A study recently published in Arthritis & Rheumatology suggested that the Mediterranean diet could play a role in reducing the risk of rheumatoid arthritis among female smokers and women who have smoked in the past.
Women are known to be at greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than men and smoking further increases their risk of developing the disease.See Also: Health News
The 30-year study focused on females with a history of smoking and discovered that among smokers and ex-smokers who adhered to the Mediterranean diet, the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis was 383 cases per million people per year.
Meanwhile, for women in the same group with a low adherence to the MedDiet, the risk of developing the disease increased to 515 cases per million people annually.
While the exact reasons why smokers appear to decrease their risk of rheumatoid arthritis when adhering to the MedDiet were not determined, one possible factor could be the MedDiet’s proven anti-inflammatory properties.
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Another reason could be the MedDiet’s capability for increasing antioxidant levels, which could counterbalance the increased oxidant effect of smoking and thus lower the increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis brought about by smoking.
Surprisingly the French study, which examined the diets of more than 62,000 women, demonstrated no indication that the MedDiet reduced the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in the general population. Although the benefits of the diet have long been acclaimed by arthritis experts.
In 2018, a study to determine which specific elements of the Mediterranean diet were most effective in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis discovered that olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, could assist in suppressing disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
The Arthritis Foundation has recommended both the Mediterranean diet and the daily consumption of two to three tablespoons of olive oil to help decrease joint inflammation caused by the disease.
It has also been suggested that oleocanthal, a natural phenolic compound found in extra virgin olive oil, may be partially responsible for reducing the risk of contracting the disease.
Oleocanthal has similar properties to some anti-inflammatory drugs and works like ibuprofen, lowering the body’s inflammatory process and reducing sensitivity to pain which is beneficial to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
The study was based on dietary data obtained from a validated food frequency questionnaire completed in 1993. Adherence to the MedDiet was assessed using a dietary score which evaluated participants’ consumption of olive oil, vegetables, legumes, cereal products, fish, meat, dairy products and alcohol.