According to a new study published this week in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, eating an entirely plant-based or vegan diet may reduce the pain and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in adults. In the study, participants who followed a protocol first of switching to a vegan diet, then additionally eliminating other foods that are vegan but can be linked to an increase in arthritis pain, reported less joint pain, fewer painful joints, and an overall reduction in the severity of symptoms.
To conduct the experiment, the 44 participants in the study were broken into two groups. The first group switched to a vegan diet immediately for four weeks, and then went through three weeks of elimination of potential pain-trigger foods, followed by nine weeks of reintroducing those potential pain-trigger foods one by one. Meanwhile, the second group was given a placebo “supplement.” After the protocol was complete, both groups took a four-week break, then returned to switch places for the following 16 weeks.
Across both sets of test subjects, the results found that the group participating in the diet phase saw a drop in mean number of swollen joins from 7 to 3.3, while it rose from 4.7 to 5 amongst those in the placebo phase.
Neal D. Barnard, a lead author on the study, has been involved with previous research about the positive health impacts of a meat- and dairy-free lifestyle, including a 2009 study linking low-fat vegan diets to improved cardiovascular health and reduced insulin sensitivity. Dr. Barnard has also been a past contributor to Vegetarian Times.