Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mediterranean Diet Provides Relief for Arthritis

The Mediterranean diet appears to provide relief for arthritis sufferers.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune inflammatory condition of the joints, improved when they were instructed in the benefits of the diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, fish, and olive oil, and low in red meat and saturated fat. [1]

Researchers instructed 75 women from 30 to 75 years old with hands-on classes in food preparation for two hours a week for six weeks, backed up by written instructions. Another 55 women were given written instructions only, and all the women were evaluated at the start of the study and again at three and six months for food intake, arthritic symptoms, and overall health assessment.

The women who were given the hands-on classes increased their fruit, vegetable, and legume consumption, and improved the ratio of their intake of monounsaturated oils to saturated fat. The subjects who received only the written instruction did not improve their diets, suggesting the importance of specific instruction rather than just a handout without support.

Symptoms were markedly reduced in the intervention group; their pain score and stiffness were both significantly better and the overall assessment was improved. In addition, the systolic blood pressures were better in this group. The control group had no change in symptoms or blood pressure or their overall health assessment.

This study provides further proof that self-help methods in natural medicine are greatly improved by consultation with, and training from, health care professionals.

[1] McKellar G, et al., A pilot study of a Mediterranean-type diet intervention in female patients with rheumatoid arthritis living in areas of social deprivation in Glasgow. Ann Rheum Dis.2007, Sep;66(9):1239-43.

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