How does a healthy diet help?

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Cheryl Dines
(Rheumatoid arthritis)

I have tried lots and lots of different diets to see whether they would affect my RA. For me I haven’t had any results with a dietary change. I had a fairly good diet before I got RA so it’s not like I was eating lots of junk. So I was always eating quite healthy food and I eliminated lots of different things in my diet to see if that would make any difference and they haven’t. For me the main thing is to eat healthy so that your body is strong. Because if your body is strong, it’s easier to manage the disease. If you eat a whole lot of junk food and become overweight, it’s actually more painful for you to have extra weight on your joints. So for me it’s all about just staying healthy and staying strong.

Prof. Ian Hickie

There are a whole range of things from a mental health point of view that we know are important: physical activity, sleep, medications, and diet is another. There are certain kinds of diets that matter to certain kinds of people. So different people need to look at their diet – total amount that they eat, when they eat, what they eat – in terms of its effect on what they care about; is it their weight, is it their physical capacity, is it their energy, is it their mood, and work out what works for them. I often say, “Oh look I don’t think that works but I think this works.” You’ve got to find out actually does it work for you. Does increasing your fish content or the protein or reducing the carbohydrate content, or adding other particular supplements; what works in your situation. This is an area which we don’t have a lot of systematic good evidence but we do know that individually some of these things make a big difference so people find strategies. Whenever you experiment, test it, record the outcome, and see whether it makes a difference for you. The more you’re in control of this yourself, the more likely you are to have better wellbeing and less likely to then have additional health problems.

Max Stoneman
(Ankylosing spondylitis)

Diet definitely does play a role for me personally. I found healthy food really does help and not so bad food, you can have the occasional, that’s fine; you don’t have to get rid of it completely because I still like my treats. You’ve just got to ask my family but its fine. I found just generally eating a little bit better. If you can focus on what you’re eating then that will really help and then also alcohol consumption. During the couple of years I was drinking a fair bit of alcohol. It wasn’t alcoholic beverages, it was drinking and you could classify it as a binge but now I don’t. I wouldn’t even have a beer a week or a fortnight. I’d really only have a beer if I see some friends or go to a birthday party, and that really does help.

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