JRA.... Journal of a Radical Arthritis Chick

Here I give advice, speak of my experiences and give information to those who want to better understand Rheumatoid Arthritis. I am NOT a medical professional, and you should always seek advice from a doctor.

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Location: MA, United States

Hello everyone! I am 28 years old and was diagnosed with JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) when I was just 3 years old. I've had my battles with this disease over the years, and have decided to create a blog. I want to share my stories and adivce with other RA chicks, or anyone interested, to raise awareness and get insight from others. Feel free to comment/question me about anything. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why a Gluten-free diet?

"I'd like to see more on the connection (or lack of) between wheat/gluten and RA. I've read the theories on why gluten and casein (dairy) can influence RA and it makes sense. I'm still completely new to all this." -- Callie.  Thank you for asking this Callie, I too have wondered this same question.  I don't really know much about gluten free diets at all, but I see so many chicks discussing that they are on it and it's been so great for them.  First, let's take a look at what "gluten free" actually means.

A gluten-free diet is a diet completely free of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts and triticale. Gluten is also used as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent, often hidden under "maltodextrine", "dextrine", and "dextrose". A gluten-free diet is the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease, the related condition dermatitis herpetiformis, and wheat allergy. Additionally, a gluten-free diet may exclude oats, however medical practitioners are divided on whether oats are an allergen to celiac disease sufferers or if they are cross-contaminated in milling facilities by other allergens.

Alright, so what foods are gluten-free? Which foods can I and can I not eat? Grains are used in the processing of many ingredients, so it will be necessary to seek out hidden gluten.  The following terms found in food labels may mean that there is gluten in the product.
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP), unless made from soy or corn
  • Flour or Cereal products, unless made with pure rice flour, corn flour, potato flour or soy flour
  • Vegetable Protein, unless made from soy or corn
  • Malt or Malt Flavoring, unless derived from corn
  • Modified Starch or Modified Food Starch, unless arrowroot, corn, potato, tapioca, waxy maize or maize is used
  • Vegetable Gum, unless made from carob bean, locust bean, cellulose, guar, gum arabic, gum aracia, gum tragacanth, xantham or vegetable starch
  • Soy Sauce or Soy Sauce Solids, unless you know they do not contain wheat
Foods that are gluten-free include: fresh meat, cheese, milk, fresh herbs, fruit, eggs, corn tacos, Jell-O, Wine Vinegar, jam, honey, almonds, popcorn and more.  You can see a whole list of foods that are safe for gluten-free diets at the gluten-free chef.  You can read more: HERE

There is now ample information in the medical literature to indicate that a prebiotic rich diet leads to demonstrable health benefits.  These include:
  • Increased calcium absorption
  • Stronger bones and bone density
  • Enhanced immunity
  • Reduced allergies and asthma in infants and children
  • A lower blood triglyceride level
  • Appetite and weight control
  • Lower cancer factors in the gut
  • Other benefits, including an increased sense of well being

So, how and why is gluten-free good for those of us with RA? There have been some reports that gluten-free can help lower inflammation, and help reduce further damage on the joints.  According to John Hopkins Medicine "Following a gluten-free vegan diet appears to be an effective way of reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke in people with rheumatoid arthritis".  A study was done to determine how this works.  The study took patients with RA and spilt them into two groups, one that went gluten-free and no meant, the other was a control group.  The patients stuck with the diet for a year, and afterwards the results showed that they had lost an average of 9lbs, reduced their BMI, lowered their cholesterol, and had a higher level of a certain antibody that helps protect the the buildup of plaque in the arteries.  You can read the entire study HERE   I also found this great blog that has more info on gluten-free and RA, and some yummy recipes that are gluten-free.  You can read more about it HERE

It seems that overtime, gluten-free can be beneficial to those with RA.  It's mostly used to treat Celiac disease, and it was found that 26% of those with RA, also have Celiac disease.  One study claimed that if Celiac is in your family, or your have RA, you could go gluten-free to prevent that from happening.  I'm still debating on whether or not to go gluten-free.  I know it has worked very well for many people, so it could be a great consideration.  If you are considering starting ANY diet, always talk with your doctor about it first, some diets could interfere with medications or health problems.

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Blogger Dutch said...

I always wonder about this. Thanks for putting it on here.

February 2, 2011 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Bariatric Food Products said...


Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, malts,etc. Gluten is also used as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent. A gluten-free diet is the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease. Thanks for sharing these necessary information.

Bariatric Surgery Diet

February 17, 2011 at 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our daughter was diagnosed with JRA in the fall of 2008 - after reading some studies, we decided to go dairy/gluten free to see if it would help. We did this concurrently with treatment with first Methotrexate and now Enbrel injections. Which is making the bigger difference is unclear, but Ava was officially pronounced in remission 6 months ago! I can say that since switching our diets (and being mindful all around), we have all noticed that we deal with less GI and fatigue problems.

September 16, 2011 at 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughters name is Ava as well and she is 3 years old....she was diagnosed 9 months ago and is currently taking methotrexate and Celebrex. She still has not gone into remission and the meds seem to have her losing large amounts of hair. I want to try a gluten/dairy free diet I just don't know where to start

May 6, 2014 at 11:41 PM  
Blogger Maddie said...

Hi there! I am a writer with Everydayhealth.com (29 million readers monthly!) working on an article about diet and RA. I would like to include your thoughts about gluten free eating and RA, if you are willing. Can we speak or email this week? madeline.vann@gmail.com

June 28, 2015 at 2:14 PM  

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