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Originally published April 1 2008

For Rheumatoid Arthritis, Choose a Gluten-Free Vegan Diet

by Tom Mosakowski

(NaturalNews) For people with rheumatoid arthritis, switching to a gluten-free vegan diet may significantly improve the symptoms associated with this autoimmune disease. A diet free from gluten and animal products was found to relieve some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by beneficially affecting the immune system. People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis often acquire symptoms that put them at risk of atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries, and cardiovascular diseases. This diet has been shown to lower levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), the type of cholesterol that is associated with clogged arteries, as well as increase levels of the antibody called anti-PC, which is believed to have a role in preventing atherosclerosis.

These results were published in Arthritis Research & Therapy and came from a study conducted by Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute.

The study involved 66 volunteers with rheumatoid arthritis who were randomly assigned to either a diet free of animal products and gluten, found in wheat, rye and barley, or a well-balanced non-vegan diet for 12 months. Thirty eight were assigned to the vegan diet and 28 to the conventional diet. Average ages for both groups were very close to 50 years and each group's current state of disease activity was very similar.

The results for those eating a vegan diet were significantly better than those on the well-balanced non-vegan diet. After 12 months, patients on the vegan diet reduced their weight from 66.4 to 62.2 kg (9.24 lbs), where as the other group decreased from 67.8 to only 67.1 kg (1.54 lbs).

After just 3 months, those on a vegan diet had a significant decrease in total cholesterol, LDL, and the LDL/HDL ratio (HDL is often called the "good cholesterol"). The other group did not significantly change.

The rheumatoid arthritis disease activity of the vegan group also substantially decreased after just 3 months. The non-vegan group had a slight decrease. Rheumatoid arthritis disease activity was measured in 28 joints for each patient by taking into account the number of swollen and tender joints and the patient's overall assessment of their condition.

This study matches previous findings of vegan or vegetarian diets in patients without rheumatoid arthritis, which showed a decrease in body weight, blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Thus, a diet low in animal products can benefit healthy people too.


"Gluten-free vegan diet induces decreased LDL and oxidized LDL levels and raised atheroprotective natural antibodies against phosphorylcholine in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized study." ( .

About the author

Tom Mosakowski, B.S. Biochemistry.

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