Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, which means it’s caused by the immune system attacking healthy body tissue. However, it’s not yet known what triggers this. Research actively investigating the onset of arthritis has found an association to red meat.
Several studies exploring the relationship between red meat consumption and rheumatoid arthritis have yielded diverging results.
In an attempt to provide a more conclusive verdict, a study published in the journal Nature explored the association between red meat and rheumatoid arthritis in a large-scale, cross-sectional study.
From June to December 2016, a total of 733 patients were investigated, from which 707 participants were included in the analysis.
These patients were divided into two groups according to their consumption of red meat (less than 100 g/day; more than 100 g/day).
The age at disease onset for the high-intake patients was 6.46 years earlier than for low-intake patients, after adjustment for demographic and other possible confounders.
A confounder is something, other than the thing being studied, that could be causing the results seen in a study.
Upon further analyses, the researchers found the association of red meat intake with rheumatoid arthritis onset age was especially evident in smokers and overweight patients.
“In conclusion, high-intake red meat is associated with early onset of RA [rheumatoid arthritis], especially in smokers or overweight patients,” the researchers wrote.
What to eat
The Mediterranean diet varies by country and region, so it has a range of definitions.
“But in general, it’s high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil,” explains the NHS.
According to the health body, it usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods.
“The Mediterranean diet has been linked with good health, including a healthier heart.”
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