If you’re a smoker and a snacker, it may be time to finally ‘just say no’ or read your nutrition labels more closely. A new study found that smokers who eat a lot of salty foods more than doubled their risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
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Researchers from Sweden’s Umea University released their findings earlier this month in the journal Rheumatology. According to Reuters, the study set out to find if a high-salt diet was linked to the development of rheumatoid arthritis in general, but after observing participants’ dietary habits, fitness, smoking and other social factors, the link was only found in the smokers.
“Although we could not confirm our original hypothesis, we were surprised by the large influence of sodium intake on smoking as a risk factor,” Björn Sundström, lead study author, told Reuters Health via email.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that can cause severe pain, stiffness, swelling and loss of function in the joints. Usually, the pain happens symmetrically on both sides of the body. Studies have found that African Americans with rheumatoid arthritis are also likely to be current smokers.
Certain foods have been known to increase inflammation in the body and trust and believe that foods high in sodium are part of this list. In addition to giving up smoking, it would also be wise to watch your intake of these high salt foods:
- Canned and packaged foods
- Fast food
- Cured meat and fish
- Salty chips and pretzels
- Table salt
What should you eat instead? It should come as no surprise: fruits and vegetables. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, said Sundstrom.
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