Eating foods containing gluten could lead to rheumatoid arthritis, a disease characterized by inflammation and pain in the joints. Gluten intolerance leads to damage in the small intestine when gluten is present. Gluten is a protein found in most grains. Bread, pasta and pretzels are just some of the foods that contain gluten. People who are gluten intolerant may experience side effects from eating gluten, but some people do not have symptoms and could be unknowingly increasing their risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Having a gluten intolerance means that the body has a hard time digesting the gluten found in grains like wheat, barley, rye and possibly oats. If not managed, a gluten intolerance may lead to serious conditions such as diabetes and intestinal cancer. A gluten intolerance may cause aching joints, which is also a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. Additional symptoms include muscle cramps, hair loss, nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, mouth ulcers and seizures.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease disease, meaning it causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy tissue. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown; it is found most commonly in middle-aged women, though men can get it too. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include pain and stiffness in the joints on both sides of the body. Most often this affects the fingers, wrists, knees, feet and ankles. Joints may also feel tender or warm during periods of inactivity. Deformity in the joints can occur over time, according to PubMed Health.
When bacteria enters the body, the immune system recognizes the invader as something foreign. It attacks this invader to prevent illness. Unfortunately, in people with rheumatoid arthritis, the body thinks that their own body tissue is an invader and attacks it. The intestinal lining gets damaged during autoimmune attacks, which allows large food particles to pass through the damaged intestinal wall and get into the body. This condition is known as leaky gut and the autoimmune response. It may contribute to rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, according to Robb Wolf. Wolf is a a former research biochemist and the author of the New York Times bestselling book The Paleo Solution. For someone who is gluten intolerant, the body attacks grains that contain gluten, leading to intestinal damage. This allows the gluten particles to get into the bloodstream and to the joints, which the immune system then attacks and damages as well.
Dietary therapy may reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms by eliminating foods that trigger an autoimmune response, according to an article published in the British Journal of Rheumatotology in June 1993. This therapy may even slow the progression of the disease by eliminating all trigger foods from the diet. Dietary therapy is also useful as a diagnostic tool to discover unique food triggers. The therapy begins with eliminating every possible food trigger for arthritis out of the diet, such as beef, eggs, wheat, oranges, milk, peanuts, malt and soy. Food is then reintroduced one at a time to see if a person reacts to a particular item.
Sources for this article include:
RobbWolf.com: Frequently Asked Questions: Robb Wolf, http://robbwolf.com/faq/
PubMed Health: Rheumatoid Arthritis, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001467/
British Journal of Rheumatotology: Review of Dietary Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
PubMed Health: Celiac Disease: Sprue, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001280/