Objective: To demonstrate the effects of a very low-fat, vegan diet on patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Design: Single-blind dietary intervention study. SUBJECTS AND STUDY INTERVENTIONS: This study evaluated the influence of a 4-week, very low-fat (approximately 10%), vegan diet on 24 free-living subjects with RA, average age, 56 +/- 11 years old.
Outcome measurements: Prestudy and poststudy assessment of RA symptomatology was performed by a rheumatologist blind to the study design. Biochemical measures and 4-day diet data were also collected. Subjects met weekly for diet instruction, compliance monitoring, and progress assessments.
Results: There were significant (p < 0.001) decreases in fat (69%), protein (24%), and energy (22%), and a significant increase in carbohydrate (55%) intake. All measures of RA symptomatology decreased significantly (p < 0.05), except for duration of morning stiffness (p > 0.05). Weight also decreased significantly (p < 0.001). At 4 weeks, C-reactive protein decreased 16% (ns, p > 0.05), RA factor decreased 10% (ns, p > 0.05), while erythrocyte sedimentation rate was unchanged (p > 0.05).
Conclusion: This study showed that patients with moderate-to-severe RA, who switch to a very low-fat, vegan diet can experience significant reductions in RA symptoms.