- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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March 16, 2013
Does diet have a role in rheumatoid arthritis?
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
In rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory and immune reactions target joints (and in some cases body organs) causing swelling, pain and deformity. An estimated 1.5 million Americans have this condition.
Emerging research seems to indicate a link between diet and inflammation. Although the exact mechanisms are still unclear, some foods seem to offer protection against inflammation. Even though studies are still underway, here are some tips that might help:
- Eat fish and other foods that contain omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats play a role in modifying the inflammatory process and regulation of pain. Salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel and herring are high in these fats. Vegetable sources include soy foods (tofu, soy-based milk, yogurt or cheese, and edamame). Walnuts, pecans and ground flaxseed are good sources too. Although extra-virgin olive oil doesn't contain omega-3s, it does have some anti-inflammatory properties.
- Eat more foods rich in antioxidants. Oxidation is a natural process associated with inflammatory arthritis that leads to cell and tissue damage. Antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, carotene, lycopene and flavonoids slow down this process. Colorful vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants: leafy greens including spinach and kale, beets, blueberries and cranberries. Beans, nuts, green tea, red wine, dark chocolate, and certain spices such as cinnamon, ginger and turmeric are also rich in antioxidants.
- Ask your doctor about supplements. Omega-3 fish oil supplements has been shown to improve pain, tenderness and stiffness related to rheumatoid arthritis. Research suggests that about 2.7 grams a day is needed. More studies are needed to determine if supplemental forms of vitamin of C, E and other antioxidants have any affect. At this time food sources (listed above) are preferred. However, before starting any supplement — including herbal remedies — talk with your doctor.
Does a healthy diet based on plenty of plant foods, healthy fats and that includes several fish times a week sound familiar? This healthy eating pattern has long been recommended for reducing the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, and preventing unwanted pounds. So what do you have to lose? Give it a try if you have rheumatoid arthritis — it might just help ease your symptoms.
- Jenniferblog index
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/rheumatoid.htm. Accessed March 11, 2013.
- Galland L. Diet and inflammation. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 2010;25:634.
- Chang-Miller A, ed. Mayo Clinic on Arthritis. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2013.