Health effects of a low-inflammatory diet in adults with arthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Nutr Sci. 2020 Aug 27;9:e37. doi: 10.1017/jns.2020.31. eCollection 2020.


The aim is to systematically assess the health impact of a low-inflammatory diet intervention (full-diet or supplement), compared to usual diet or other dietary interventions, on weight change, inflammatory biomarkers, joint symptoms, and quality of life in adults with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or seronegative arthropathy (psoriatic, reactive, ankylosing spondylitis or IBD-related), on outcomes assessed in prospective studies within 6 months of intervention commencement (PROSPERO CRD42019136567). Search of multiple electronic library databases from inception to July 2019, supplemented by grey literature searches, for randomised and prospective trials assessing the above objective. After exclusion of 446 ineligible studies, five randomised and two prospective trials involving 468 participants with either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis were included. GRADE assessment for all outcomes was very low. Meta-analyses produced the following standardised mean differences (SMD) and 95 % confidence interval (CI) 2-4 months following commencement of the diets favouring the low-inflammatory diet: weight SMD -0⋅45 (CI -0⋅71, -0⋅18); inflammatory biomarkers SMD -2⋅33 (CI -3⋅82, -0⋅84). No significant effects were found for physical function (SMD -0⋅62; CI -1⋅39, 0⋅14), general health (SMD 0⋅89; CI -0⋅39, 2⋅16) and joint pain (SMD -0⋅98; CI -2⋅90, 0⋅93). In most studies, the quality of dietary intervention (dietitian input, use of validated dietary compliance tool) could not be gauged. In conclusion, very low-level evidence suggests that low-inflammatory diets or supplements compared to usual diets are associated with greater weight loss and improvement in inflammatory biomarkers. More high-quality trials are needed to assess the health effects of a low-inflammatory diet more comprehensively and conclusively in arthritic conditions.

Keywords: Anti-inflammatory diet; Low-inflammatory diet; Mediterranean diet; Osteoarthritis; Rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diet therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / diet therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis / psychology
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic