Effects of a very low-fat, vegan diet in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis

J Altern Complement Med. 2002 Feb;8(1):71-5. doi: 10.1089/107555302753507195.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diet therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted*
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritional Status
  • Patient Compliance
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome