Vegan diet relieves joint pain for arthritis patients, says study

The vegan diet is increasingly becoming a lifestyle choice among millennials due to its several health benefits. A new study now has found that a low-fat vegan diet can be healing for people with rheumatoid arthritis experiencing frequent joint pain. Moreover, it also improves cholesterol levels in the blood and promotes weight loss.

The autoimmune disease causes swelling in joints, and pain leading to permanent damage of joints, restricting movement in individuals.

The study published in ‘American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine’ says that a plant-based diet can relieve joint pain for millions of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The lead author of the study and president of the Physicians Committee further said that as a side effect it causes weight loss and a fall in cholesterol levels as well.

The participants of the study used a visual analog scale (VAS) to rate the severity of the worst joint pain in the preceding two weeks on a scale of “pain as bad as it could possibly be’’ to “no pain”. Their score was further adjusted to swollen joints, tender joints, and C-reactive protein values that indicate inflammation in the body, DAS28 score increases the severity of rheumatoid

Fourty four adults who were previously diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis were assigned one of two groups for 16 weeks. The first group followed a vegan diet for four weeks. Additional food was eliminated for three weeks and reintroduced individually over nine weeks

Individuals managed their own meals and purchases with guidance from the research team. The second group followed an unrestricted diet but also took a placebo capsule daily. The groups then switched their diets.

DAS28 decreased 2 points on average, indicating lesser joint pain in the vegan phase compared to a decrease of 0.3 points in the placebo phase.

The average number of swollen joints decreased from 7.0 to 3.3 in the vegan phase, while the number actually increased from 4.7 to 5 in the placebo phase.

VAS ratings also improved significantly in the vegan phase, compared with the placebo phase for participants who completed the study.

The vegan diet also led to greater decreases in DAS28 for individuals who increased medications during the study than participants making no medication changes in another sub-analysis.

Moreover, body weight decreased by about 14 pounds on average on the vegan diet, while in the placebo diet there was an average gain of about 2 pounds. There were also greater reductions in total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol during the vegan phase.

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