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Rheumatoid Arthritis: Elderly Diet and Lifestyle Guide

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

If you’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis as an elderly person, you’ll know that there are now a number of effective medical treatments for the condition, although there is no cure.

But did you know that your diet and lifestyle can also make a difference when you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis? Today, we’ll learn more about how you can take steps to help improve your health through what you eat and do daily as a senior.

What causes rheumatoid arthritis symptoms?

Before we discuss how diet or lifestyle might help with rheumatoid arthritis in older people, let’s review what’s going on in the body for elderly rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. We don’t know why this happens, but in rheumatoid arthritis the immune system starts attacking the body’s own joints the same way it would attack an infection. This causes pain, stiffness and inflammation.

Some of the diet and lifestyle steps we’ll discuss are aimed at reducing inflammation in the body. Others focus on reducing pain and stiffness in the joints.

Ready to get started with your rheumatoid arthritis diet and lifestyle changes? Read on!

Try the Mediterranean diet

Is there a recommended diet for rheumatoid arthritis? UK doctors say the Mediterranean diet is your best bet.

Doctors recommend the Mediterranean diet for two reasons. Firstly, the Mediterranean diet has been proven to be an extremely healthy one for the body overall, helping fight heart disease and diabetes. And if your body is already struggling with rheumatoid arthritis, you want to be in the best health possible otherwise.

Secondly, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to fight inflammation, which, as you know, is a key component in rheumatoid arthritis.

Of course, you should always check with your doctor to ensure this is right for you, especially if you have other conditions that also affect your nutritional needs.

What to eat on the Mediterranean diet

Is it easy to follow this diet for rheumatoid arthritis? UK elderly patients should find everything they need at the supermarket. Some foods to eat on the Mediterranean diet are:

  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables (potatoes not included!). Doctors say that ensuring you eat a variety of colours in fresh produce helps you to get lots of nutrients. Green leafy vegetables like kale are particularly recommended because of their calcium and iron content.
  • Olive oil. This is central to the Mediterranean diet. Try a fresh salad with olive oil dressing, or in the winter you can drizzle olive oil over vegetables like bell peppers, courgettes, broccoli, and more to make a tray bake in the oven.
  • Nuts and seeds. These are natural snacks with good oils and fibre too. If you buy these roasted, make sure to get a product without added oil or sugar.
  • Fish, particularly oily fish like tuna, salmon or mackerel.
  • Whole grains, like brown rice or whole wheat bread.
  • Beans
  • A moderate amount of poultry.

Our helpful article on nutrition in older adults provides even more information.

Avoid less healthy foods

Since the Mediterranean diet is generally the most recommended rheumatoid arthritis diet, then the foods to avoid for rheumatoid arthritis patients will be foods that are not part of the Mediterranean diet. It’s key to note that for most older people these foods can still be eaten occasionally, such as on special occasions, but they just shouldn’t be daily foods or a central part of your diet.

Some foods to avoid for rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Red meat
  • Unhealthy fats, such as fats that are solid at room temperature and oils that aren’t olive oil
  • Refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta
  • Sweets

It can be relatively simple to modify your meals to follow a rheumatoid arthritis diet and swap out these foods to avoid. For rheumatoid arthritis patients, opting for whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta, a bowl of blueberries instead of sweets, nuts instead of crisps and a bean chilli instead of a beef one can all be great steps to improve health.

Make sure your body is at a healthy weight

Since rheumatoid arthritis means that joints are already under stress, you want to reduce any other stresses or strains on your joints. That means ensuring that your weight is within a healthy range so that your joints won’t hurt from carrying additional weight.

What weight is right for you? The answer is complicated and involves your age, proportion of muscle and other factors. It’s best to check with your doctor to see what weight range is best for your health.

Quit smoking

As with the Mediterranean diet, quitting smoking is something that improves health for your entire body, and that’s important when you have rheumatoid arthritis and your body is already under strain. Since it’s believed that smoking causes inflammation in the body, quitting smoking can reduce inflammation, which is always good for elderly rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Stay active in the way that’s right for you

We’ve been talking a lot about reducing stress on the body and strain on the joints. So, is it best to reduce your activity so that your joints can rest?

The answer is that you want to find the happy medium that’s right for you. Too much exercise can be hard on the joints, but too little exercise can lead to muscle weakness and stiffness. If you have rheumatoid arthritis in the lower body, this can create a vicious cycle – a lack of exercise means stiffness and weakness, which makes it harder to exercise, which creates more stiffness and weakness.

It's best to talk with your doctor about how you can keep mobile in a way that’s good for your rheumatoid arthritis. Many elderly people find that water aerobics classes are gentle on painful joints. And gentle walking in the outdoors can also boost mental health, which can be important if you’re suffering rheumatoid arthritis pain.

If you’re worried about falling while you’re being active, an automatic fall detection alarm is a great option for peace of mind. That way, you don’t even need to press a button to ensure help is on its way – the alarm does that for you.

SureSafe and staying mobile safely with rheumatoid arthritis

Although living with rheumatoid arthritis in your later years can be challenging, it’s good to know that there are steps you can take to ensure your health is the best it can be – like keeping mobile, quitting smoking, and following a Mediterranean diet for rheumatoid arthritis. UK rheumatoid arthritis patients also have lots of great resources available for these changes, such as the NHS rheumatoid arthritis page.

Mental health is a big component of wellness when you have rheumatoid arthritis too. If joint stiffness and pain from rheumatoid arthritis makes you worry about falling, let SureSafe help with a personal alarm that ease anxiety. A mobile personal alarm with GPS tracking lets you walk freely outdoors in the knowledge that you can still call for help if you need it away from home. And our attractive wrist alarms look just like a smart watch, ensuring that you’re kept safe discreetly.

Curious to know more about SureSafe’s simple and affordable personal alarms? Chat with us at 0800 112 3201, get in touch with our expert team via live chat, or request a call back.

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