Diet-MediterraneanDiet-VeganRheumatoid Diseases

Benefits of a vegan diet for rheumatoid arthritis

Dietary manipulation helps people regain a sense of control over their disease.

In addition, researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden report changes that might be beneficial.

First, the details.

  • 66 adults with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were randomly assigned to a vegan diet free of gluten or a well-balanced non-vegan diet for 1 year.
  • 30 out of 38 patients in the vegan group completed more than 3 months on the diet regimen.
  • Data and blood samples were obtained at the start of the study, and after 3 and 12 months.

And, the results with gluten-free vegan diet.

  • Significantly induced lower body mass index (BMI) and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Significantly higher anti-PC IgM levels.
  • BMI, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol significantly decreased after 3 and 12 months.
  • Low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) decreased after 3 months.
    • oxLDL is an atherogenic agent (capable of producing atheromatous plaques in arteries).
  • Triglycerides and HDL (good) cholesterol did not change.
  • IgA anti-PC levels increased significantly after 3 months.

In the control diet group

  • IgM anti-PC levels significantly decreased after 3 and 12 months.

When separating vegan patients into clinical responders and non-responders at 12 months, the effects on oxLDL and anti-PC IgA were seen only in responders.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “A gluten-free vegan diet in RA induces changes that are potentially atheroprotective and anti-inflammatory, including decreased LDL and oxLDL levels and raised anti-PC IgM and IgA levels.”

An earlier study of a very low-fat, vegan diet in people with RA reported that patients with moderate-to-severe RA who switch to a very low-fat, vegan diet can experience significant reductions in RA symptoms.

Others who have looked for associations between diet (lacto-vegetarian, vegan, or Mediterranean diets) and RA concluded that the benefits are not simply related to weight reduction.

3/20/08 22:16 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.