What is the paleo diet?

The paleo diet is sometimes called the “caveman” diet. It focuses on foods similar to those that our ancestors ate in the Paleolithic era. It includes lean meats and seafood. It incorporates plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. It also allows you to eat seeds and nuts, but not peanuts. It excludes dairy products, grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, fatty meats, trans fat, refined sugars, and processed foods.

The paleo autoimmune protocol operates on the assumption that grains, legumes, and dairy products are linked to the development of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The protocol calls for the elimination of certain foods from your diet. Those foods include breads and other grain products, beans and other legumes, regular potatoes, dairy foods, sugar, and alcohol. It also advises people with autoimmune diseases to avoid eggs, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. Spices, such as those in curries, paprika, and chili powder, are also eliminated.

Some people believe that diet plays an important role in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a form of inflammatory arthritis. Inflammation is part of your body’s natural response to injuries and irritants. These irritants may include highly processed and high-fat foods, as well as other dietary triggers. Making adjustments to your diet might help alleviate some of your RA symptoms.

While some people believe the paleo autoimmune protocol is beneficial for people with RA, others aren’t so sure. For example, the paleo autoimmune protocol calls for eliminating nuts and seeds due to antinutrients. Antinutrients, like phytic acid found in many plants, impair absorption of certain minerals. But the Arthritis Foundation suggests that nuts and seeds can be part of a healthy diet for people with RA. The paleo autoimmune protocol also advises people to avoid grains. But the Cleveland Clinic encourages people with RA eat a balanced diet that includes whole grains.

Food sensitivities and triggers can vary from person to person. What triggers symptoms for some people may not pose problems for you. Soaking, sprouting, or fermenting nuts, seeds, beans, and grains before eating can help reduce antinutrients.

Reducing or eliminating processed foods from your diet can help improve your overall health. It may also help reduce inflammation in your body, suggest researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The highly refined carbohydrates found in “white” foods, such as white bread, white rice, and white potatoes, may increase inflammation associated with RA. Foods and beverages that are high in sugar may also contribute to inflammation. Many processed foods also contain large amounts of salt, preservatives, and other additives.

Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is also important for your health. Fruits and vegetables contain natural anti-inflammatory compounds. They’re also rich sources of fiber. Some studies have linked high-fiber diets to lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), reports the Arthritis Foundation. CRP is a marker of inflammation that’s been linked to RA. Eating plenty of high-fiber fruits and veggies might help relieve your RA symptoms, while supporting your overall health and well-being.

Protein helps your body build and maintain muscles. Some sources are healthier than others. If you have RA, cold-water fish may be particularly beneficial. Examples include salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, and herring. They contain omega-3 fatty acids that are thought to reduce inflammation throughout your body.

It may also help to avoid saturated and trans fats, such as those found in butter, margarine, and processed foods containing hydrogenated oils. Olive oil is a healthier choice and may have anti-inflammatory properties.

Eating well is vital to your overall health. If you have RA, certain foods or dietary habits might be contributing to your symptoms. Ask your doctor or registered dietitian for more information about the link between diet and inflammation. Consult with them before trying the paleo autoimmune protocol or making any drastic changes to your diet. They can help you develop an eating plan to meets your nutritional needs. In some cases, they may encourage you to eliminate certain foods for a period of time before slowly reintroducing them back into your diet, one by one. This can help you pinpoint specific foods that might be making your RA worse.