“It’s possible the people we studied with RA who ate fish two or more times a week were also doing other things, such as getting regular exercise or eating a better overall diet, that contributed to the decrease in their RA symptoms,” Dr. Tedeschi says. “We hope to see longer and more in-depth studies that examine how fresh fish might reduce RA symptoms.”
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Dr. Tedeschi acknowledges the group that ate fish more frequently had some traits that might be associated with improved disease activity, including higher socioeconomic status and a lower body mass index, but they also had the highest prevalence of smoking and the longest disease duration.
For now, Dr. Tedeschi says rheumatologists may consider recommending their RA patients increase their consumption of non-fried fish, along with medication, as part of their overall treatment plan.
Not many studies have looked at recommended foods for patients with RA, but Dr. Tedeschi says an anti-inflammatory diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, loaded with fish, whole grains, veggies, fruits, nuts and beans, has been shown to help those with arthritis as well as heart disease and other health conditions. The Arthritis Foundation endorses the Mediterranean diet for those with arthritis.
“[Because] patients with RA and other chronic inflammatory conditions are often at a higher risk of heart disease, eating fresh fish as part of a healthy diet can also reduce their risk of heart attack,” Dr. Tedeschi says.
The American Heart Association also recommends consuming 3.5 oz. of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week.
Linda Childers is a health writer located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Tedeschi SK, Bathon JM, Giles JT, et al. Relationship between fish consumption and disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Care Res. 2018 Mar.70:327–332.
- Proudman SM, James MJ, Spargo LD, et al. Fish oil in recent onset rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized, double-blind controlled trial within algorithm-based drug use. Ann Rheum Dis. 2015 Jan;74(1):89–95.