woman holding hand due to arthritis pain
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
June 10, 2024 ·  3 min read

Autoimmune Diseases Like Rheumatoid Arthritis Could Begin in Your Fridge

Autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), affect millions of people and can cause significant pain, joint deformity, and organ damage.1 While the exact cause of autoimmune diseases remains unknown, recent research suggests that certain environmental factors, including dietary choices, may play a role. There are potential links between diet and autoimmune diseases that focus on the impact of dairy products, bacteria, and sodium bicarbonate on conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Dairy Products

Milk factory. Robotic factory line for processing and bottling of milk. Selective focus.
Source: Shutterstock

A study conducted at the University of Central Florida reveals a possible connection between the consumption of dairy products, beef, or produce grown in cow manure and the development of rheumatoid arthritis in genetically predisposed individuals. The research highlights the role of a bacterium called Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP) in triggering the abnormal immune response associated with autoimmune disorders such as RA.

The study found that individuals with genetic mutations in the PTPN2/22 genes, which regulate the immune system, are at a higher risk of developing RA when exposed to MAP through contaminated milk or meat when these individuals consume products containing MAP, their immune cells over-activate and fail to relax even when the threat is gone, leading to chronic inflammation and autoimmune symptoms.

Understanding the molecular cause of inflammation in RA associated with environmental triggers, including MAP, provides valuable insights for developing targeted treatments and interventions. Further research will fully unravel the complex relationship between diet, bacteria, and autoimmune diseases.

Read More: Newly discovered species of bacteria may be culprit behind rheumatoid arthritis

Nutrition and Chronic Pain Conditions

Anonymous person touching his wrist, suferring from arthritis disease, close up against grey background
Source: Shutterstock

The phrase “we are what we eat” holds true when it comes to managing chronic pain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Proper nutrition can make a significant difference in managing pain and improving overall health. Physical therapists often provide nutritional advice to supplement treatment plans and enhance the effectiveness of therapy.2

Conditions such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, inflammation, obesity, and autoimmune disorders are directly influenced by diet and nutrition. For example, managing weight through diet is crucial in reducing arthritis pain, while adopting a diet with anti-inflammatory foods can help alleviate symptoms associated with inflammation-related conditions.

Read More: The #1 Arthritis Remedy That Is Often Ignored

Sodium Bicarbonate vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

Wooden bowl with sodium bicarbonate on a black background ,copy space
Source: Shutterstock

New evidence from the Medical College of Georgia suggests that sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda, can promote an anti-inflammatory environment in the body and potentially benefit individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.3 Drinking a solution of sodium bicarbonate triggers mesothelial cells, which line body cavities and organs, to signal the spleen to reduce the immune response.

Researchers found that consuming baking soda led to a shift from pro-inflammatory cells to anti-inflammatory cells, such as macrophages, in various organs and the peripheral blood. The anti-inflammatory effect lasted for several hours in humans and days in rats.

The study suggests that the cholinergic signals responsible for the anti-inflammatory response may originate from mesothelial cells rather than the vagal nerve innervating the spleen. These findings provide a potential avenue for exploring the therapeutic benefits of sodium bicarbonate in autoimmune diseases.


Female physical therapists checking senior patient's hand at medical clinic.
Source: Shutterstock

The link between diet and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis is becoming clearer with ongoing research. Avoiding dairy products and beef sourced from animals infected with MAP may reduce the risk of triggering an abnormal immune response in genetically susceptible individuals. Additionally, adopting a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help manage chronic pain conditions.

The potential use of sodium bicarbonate as an anti-inflammatory solution shows promise, encouraging the spleen to promote an anti-inflammatory environment. Further studies will help us to fully understand the mechanisms and develop safe treatment approaches for autoimmune diseases. By being mindful of what we consume and making informed dietary choices, we can potentially reduce the risk of developing autoimmune diseases and better manage chronic pain conditions.

Read More: Do These Hand Exercises In The Morning to Relieve Arthritis Pain In Your Wrists and Fingers


  1. The Cause Of Autoimmune Diseases Like Rheumatoid Arthritis Could Be In Your Fridge.” IFL Science. Aliyah Kovner. February 3, 2018.
  2. What’s In Your Fridge Could Be Causing Your Pain!Snyder Physical Therapy. January 10, 2022.
  3. Autoimmune Treatment May Be Tucked Away in the Back of Your Fridge.” Geneng News. April 25, 2018.