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  • Rheumatoid arthritis is estimated

  • to affect up to 1% of the entire population.

  • It is painful and often debilitating

  • talking inflammation in the joints,

  • the likes of which unless you have it,

  • sometimes you just can't believe.

  • And the flare ups with aura seem to come out of nowhere.

  • What triggers them?

  • Oftentimes it's a mystery, and that is what researchers

  • at the Physicians Committee wanted to figure out.

  • And today,

  • we're joined

  • by one of the lead

  • researchers of a brand new groundbreaking study

  • that analyzes the effect of diet on rheumatoid arthritis.

  • We welcome the director of clinical research

  • for the Physicians Committee, Dr.

  • Hana Kahleova.

  • Dr. Kahleova, thanks for being back here.

  • Thanks for having me, Chuck.

  • So good to see you again.

  • So good to be here.

  • Oftentimes

  • when you're on the show, we talk about diabetes,

  • but today we're talking about R.A.

  • And the thing that I know about R.A.

  • is that when I said it was painful, just a minute ago,

  • I've seen people just literally crippled over, crippled over

  • and have their days just ruined by it.

  • So when we're talking about pain

  • and R.A., I mean, how painful is this condition?

  • Yeah, that's exactly right.

  • Like, it affects the small joints in

  • the hands in the wrists,

  • the knees, but also other joints in the body.

  • And they're not only painful, but also swollen

  • and eventually over the course of many years

  • of the disease, there may be a permanent damage.

  • So it may be disability and disease also

  • you know, a big cause of disability. So

  • this is no fun.

  • We know that there's genetic factors

  • but also environmental factors.

  • And, you know, among the factors that we can influence,

  • diet seems to be one of them.

  • It's an autoimmune condition, which means that

  • it may be triggered by certain proteins.

  • And that's why we were trying to figure out,

  • you know, if we modified the diet, could we

  • could we help these people

  • with their pain and with their swollen joints?

  • And that's exactly why we conducted a clinical trial.

  • And let me share my screen with you and just tell you

  • a little bit about the study.

  • Yeah, by all means.

  • And we see the screen up on there right now.

  • Wonderful.

  • So we were looking into the effects

  • of a plant-based diet for rheumatoid arthritis.

  • And the findings have just been published

  • in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

  • And, you know, when

  • when people come in with their joint pain,

  • I need to say not all joint

  • pain is due to rheumatoid arthritis.

  • So in our study, we had a rheumatologist

  • who verified the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, and

  • he was also making sure

  • to do the count of the joints

  • and all of the assessments that rheumatologists do

  • without knowing which group the participants were

  • in, both at baseline and then and then at midpoint.

  • And then at the end of the study,

  • we recruited 44 people with rheumatoid arthritis

  • and they were randomly assigned to either

  • the diet phase

  • or the supplement phase.

  • For sixteen weeks.

  • And then after the sixteen weeks were over,

  • we re-assessed their joint pain

  • and we were using questionnaires

  • and also the rheumatologist met with them and

  • we drew their labs.

  • And after a four week washout

  • period, four, four week of a break,

  • they switched over to the opposite intervention.

  • So those who were on the diet previously went on a supplement

  • and those who were on

  • a supplement went on the diet for another six weeks.

  • And then we did all the final assessments again.

  • Now, let me describe the diet.

  • What what exactly was the diet about

  • for the first four weeks?

  • It was a low fat vegan diet.

  • That means no animal product, no meat, no dairy,

  • no cheese, no eggs for four weeks.

  • Then for another three weeks

  • on the top of eliminating all the animal foods,

  • we also eliminated certain plant foods,

  • for example, gluten containing grains.

  • So foods and certain vegetables and fruits.

  • And for the

  • last nine weeks, we were reintroducing

  • the eliminated foods one by one back into the diet.

  • And if the introduced foods didn't cause any problems,

  • the participants just kept them in the diet

  • and kept adding new and new foods.

  • However, if, let's say

  • introducing potatoes back to the diet

  • caused a lot of joint pain and so,

  • you know, the joints were swollen again,

  • then the potato was just out of the diet again.

  • And we were testing other foods which provided each participant

  • with individualized food triggers that would cause

  • the joint pain and and swelling.

  • Here's the list of all the eliminated foods

  • on the elimination diet.

  • So in addition to eliminating all the animal foods

  • during the after four weeks,

  • during the subsequent three weeks week, we excluded

  • all the gluten containing grains.

  • Some vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes,

  • and onions and tomatoes and eggplants and celery.

  • Only a couple

  • of fruits such as apples and bananas and citrus fruit,

  • nuts and peanuts,

  • soy foods and chickpea and also chocolate,

  • coffee, sugar, alcohol and nutritional yeast.

  • So these foods were eliminated for three weeks,

  • and then they were introduced one by one every two days.

  • The participants added another food from this

  • from this elimination diet list.

  • Now, the disease activity

  • measured by the DAS 28 score,

  • which is one of the the major

  • rheumatologist assessments

  • didn't change significantly

  • on the supplement or which was a placebo

  • but was reduced substantially during the diet

  • by 2.1 points.

  • And I need to say that we also did another analysis

  • looking at people who increased their medications

  • during the study.

  • When we excluded them, we we got similarly results.

  • And also when we took participants with no medication

  • changes whatsoever during the study and left

  • only them then and the results were comparable as well.

  • And another significant

  • finding from the study was the number of swollen joints

  • which was reduced by 3.7 during the diet phase

  • and did not change significantly on the placebo

  • So in conclusion, it looks like the elimination

  • plant based diet really work for rheumatoid arthritis

  • and can be definitely tried out if you have

  • rheumatoid arthritis.

  • I'd like to encourage you to give it a try

  • and we will post the whole

  • the whole paper with the list of the foods

  • that that were eliminated on the elimination diet

  • so that you can you can do it yourself.

  • Those are really fascinating results. Dr.

  • Kahleova.

  • What was your hypothesis going into this?

  • I mean, we know that plant-based

  • diets, by and large are anti-inflammatory.

  • So was it your suspicion that this

  • probably would be helpful to a lot of these study participants?

  • Yeah, exactly.

  • Our thought was let

  • let's try out how a plant-based diet can help these people.

  • We know that plant-based diets in general are

  • anti-inflammatory.

  • But then

  • also we realize that there are certain triggers

  • beyond the animal foods that are excluded from from

  • the plant, plant-based diet.

  • That's why we also included the elimination phase.

  • Unfortunately, the individual foods