The Paleo Diet and Rheumatoid Arthritis

I can remember many years ago, when I was a teenager, seeing my great-grandmother’s horrible gnarled hands. Each one of her fingers was twisted over the one next to it, and had been for years. She could hold things, but it took some work to get her

fingers wrapped around the object, and even then, her grip was very weak. My great-grandmother had a very advanced stage of rheumatoid arthritis before she passed-away in her mid eighties.

Her two main vices were smoking cigarettes, and drinking a nightly bottle of Guinness …..both of which she did until the day she died. Here’s what PubMed say about RA:

“Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term disease that leads to inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. It can also affect other organs.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of RA is unknown. It is an autoimmune disease, which means the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue.

RA can occur at any age, but is more common in middle age. Women get RA more often than men.

Infection, genes, and hormone changes may be linked to the disease.


RA usually affects joints on both sides of the body equally. Wrists, fingers, knees, feet, and ankles are the most commonly affected.

The disease often begins slowly, usually with only minor joint pain, stiffness, and fatigue.

Joint symptoms may include:

  • Morning stiffness, which lasts more than 1 hour, is common. Joints may feel warm, tender, and stiff when not used for an hour.
  • Joint pain is often felt on the same joint on both sides of the body.

Over time, joints may lose their range of motion and may become deformed.”

So they know that RA is an autoimmune disease, but do they know how to treat it?


RA usually requires lifelong treatment, including medications, physical therapy, exercise, education, and possibly surgery. Early, aggressive treatment for RA can delay joint destruction.”


Some people with RA may have intolerance or allergies to certain foods. A balanced nutritious diet is recommended. It may be helpful to eating foods rich in fish oils (omega-3 fatty acids).”

I’ve got a better idea. Instead of undertaking early aggressive treatment for RA, why not just stop eating wheat, and other gluten containing grains?

You see, it turns out that the nightly beer drinking habit could actually have been the cause of my great-grandmother’s RA, because of the gluten protein found in wheat and barley (amount other things). Gluten is often a trigger for autoimmune diseases just like RA, and many others. Could it really be as simple as cutting out the gluten? I think so, yes.

Treating a disease like RA with anti-inflammatory steroids is an easy way to relieve the swelling associated with the disease, but it doesn’t address the cause…’s a band-aid so to speak…..a cop out.

With a potentially disfiguring disease like rheumatoid arthritis, it makes sense to try and find a way to stop its progression, instead of just masking the pain and allowing the disease to keep right on trucking. An easy way to do this could be with a nice, whole food based diet, like the Paleo Template that excludes Gluten containing grains. It’s not a sure thing, but if you have rheumatoid arthritis…..or just about any other autoimmune disease for that matter, I’d be willing to bet a bunch of Krispy-Kreme glazed Donut holes, that if you give the Paleo Template a try, it might exceed your wildest dreams.


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Barry Cripps is a Paleo-based, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, who

operates out of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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2 Responses to The Paleo Diet and Rheumatoid Arthritis

  1. Rainer May 20, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    When is someone going to take this paleo nutrition to the media,eg 60minutes,current affairs programs and or have a fair dinkum scientific debate about what the human body should be eating so we all can know exactly what is right and wrong
    There are so many different diets out ( with so called scientific back up ) that I and probably everyone else don’t k ow who is right. Most of them make sense to me and therefore I try and do what I think is right which is probably wrong. Just a note if you don’t live in or near a major city you have no hope in following the paleo diet because of a lack of variety etc.
    Please reply.

    • Lila Solnick May 22, 2012 at 10:56 am

      Hi Rainer.
      Actually there is media coverage of this diet. The most recent was a series last week on the local affiliate of CBS news in San Francisco. It was a lead up to the premiere of a new movie on the ancestral diet called “In Search of The Perfect Human Diet”. You can see this here:
      Is this 60 minutes? No, but even that program has been having some interesting segments lately. Their most recent was about toxic sugar. It was covered on this site. Just search for toxic sugar and you will find it.
      One thing you must realize is that the main stream media (MSM) gets it’s money from advertising. Who are the major advertisers for the networks? Drug and food companies. If the MSM allowed true information to be aired, they’d lose advertisers. Or the advertisers would strong arm the media to no broadcast the material. Because of this, independent film makers like CJ Hunt - In Search of the Perfect Human Diet and Tom Naughton - Fat Head (, have to create movies without substantial funding and make them available on the internet.

      As far as rural people not being able to be Paleo, that’s not necessarily true. In fact some rural people may have access to better quality products at a lower price. If I could buy grass fed meat directly from the producer, I would be spending a lot less. I have friends who are Paleo living in remote areas who can get raw milk, beef, organic vegetables and more without trouble and for less. Are there areas where it’s hard to find the right food? Yes, of course. But that also applies to some cities too. Keep in mind that many different foods can also be purchased online. If you have no access to grass fed steak, you can still buy it from US Wellness.

      Thanks for commenting!