The Benefits Of Fish Consumption For People With Rheumatoid Arthritis

2013-09-06 | |
Last updated: 2014-11-25

BenefitsOfFishRheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic disease that can severely affect the quality of life for those who develop the disorder due to the pain and loss of mobility that it can cause. Treatment for the disease is getting better but the disease continues to affect the lives of millions of people as they await better treatments. For those at risk for the disease and for those who already have it, the good news is that research is finding that dietary changes can affect both the risk of the disease and its severity.

Some Background On Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) mainly affects women of middle age and older. The hands and feet are often the parts of the body to show the first symptoms of the disease. Before these symptoms appear however, the immune cells of the body have already started attacking the joints of the body including the fingers, wrists, arms and legs, causing them to become stiff and painful due to swelling. Rheumatoid Arthritis often leaves those with the disorder suffering in considerable pain as it becomes increasingly difficult for them to perform even mundane tasks such as dressing or cooking. The most advanced of the current treatments for this condition are ‘anti-TNF’ or inflammation suppressing therapies such as those with drug names such as Humira and Remicade.

The Benefits Of Fish Oil In Reducing Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk

The first study to mention is one conducted in Sweden that revealed that the risk of acquiring this disease can be reduced with a prescribed diet. Research carried out by the Karolinska Institute in collaboration with the Karolinska University Hospital reveals that introducing oily fish in one’s diet can significantly reduce the risk of acquiring Rheumatoid Arthritis. The study was conducted on 32,032 women, born between the years 1914 to 1948 in Sweden.

The women in the study were asked to fill questionnaires on their lifestyle such as food habits, alcohol consumption, medicinal use, etc. The survey also took into account other factors that could affect the results such as cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, aspirin intake, energy intake as they influence the diet and health of the women involved in the study.

Amongst those in the study, 205 women had been found to suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis at the time of the survey conducted during the years 1987 and 1997. From the research, it was observed that the women who consumed Omega-3 fatty acids in amounts consistently exceeding 0.21 grams per day over two meals had a 52% reduced risk of developing the disease. The Swedish researchers also showed more specifically that the women following a diet of one serving of oily fish a week or 4 servings of a lean fish such as Cod were less likely to develop the disorder.

For those potentially at risk for the disease and looking to make such changes to their diet, it is important to note that the human body does not produce Omega-3 fatty acids; it needs to acquire it from external sources in the form of the food that is consumed.

Fortunately, there are numerous sources for these Omega-3 fats. Oily fish such as Herring, Mackerel, Pilchard, Salmon, Sardine, Trout, Fresh Tuna, Anchovies, Whitebait, Halibut, Scallops, and Shrimps are all rich in the appropriate type of Omega Fatty Acids to reduce the risk for developing Rheumatoid Arthritis. Of these fish, Salmon and Mackerel are the most popular and most effective choices according to the study.

Fish is a rich source of protein and if one consumes the bone of certain fishes, it can also fulfill the calcium requirement in the body. Additionally, these fish contain Vitamin A and together these ingredients can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases while promoting brain development.

Consuming Fish Is Beneficial For Those Already Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis

The Swedish study was performed to show the effects of diet on the occurrence of RA. However, a healthy Mediterranean diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and seafood in combination with regular exercise regime is also likely beneficial for preventing the disease. Professor Alan Silman, Medical Director of Arthritis Research UK suggests that consuming high levels of fish oils can prevent inflammation from occurring in the joints. The research seems to indicate that Omega-3 acts as an inflammation reducing material in the body.


Even though the Swedish Research was extensive, it is still only one study showing that consumption of oily fish can reduce the risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis. More evidence is needed to reach a conclusion and diet has always been a controversial subject, as its effect may vary based on both the habits of a person and the response of their bodies. However, for both woment at risk for the condition and those suffering from this condition, introducing fish into their diet is a safe option that may allow them to derive some health benefits in reducing the inflammation and pain caused by the disease.

Author Bio: Jason Phillips wrote this article. He is a food and nutrition consultant at various sites in related niches, such as the site he works for which provides a wide range of omega oils and other fitness supplements.

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Category: Disease Information, Disease Prevention, Medical Research

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