Home Auto-immune disease One overlooked reason low carb diets work that has nothing to do...

One overlooked reason low carb diets work that has nothing to do with being low carb


Read this from a comment on Jimmy Moore’s website

“I  have suffered for 35 years with devastating Rhuematoid arthritis… I have taken prednisone daily for all those years. ….Now for the real shocker at least for me. I have been able to wean almost all the way off prednisone – down from 5 to 2…”

Are you under the impression a low carb diet is miraculous for Rheumatoid arthritis? If this was you getting these results – wouldn’t you be shouting from the rooftops, espousing the miracle that a ketogenic diet is?

But what if this miracle had nothing to do with being on a ketogenic diet?

I am currently studying post-grad nutrtition science and doing a small research topic – interviewing people with Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who have achieved significant improvements through changing their diets. I am also conducting a review of the literature on dietary intervention studies that have been done on those with RA.

Here’s what I have found from 2 interviews I’ve done so far:

Grains – in particular gluten grains, and nightshade foods – in particular potatoes cause fast and dramatic increases in pain and joint inflammation in both women.

However other starchy vegetables like sweet potato and a moderate amount of fruit are well tolerated without causing flares.

In one case study and a small elimination diet study that both had significant results from removing specific foods from the diet  – these foods caused a notable increase in inflammation:  maize starch (1), cereals, wheat, pulses and rice products (2).

Have a think about a very low carb diet – what foods are taken out?

All grains, all potatoes (if not all nightshades), all pulses (legumes).

So what if the dramatic effects that some people get from a very low carb diet are purely a result of the foods that have been removed – i.e. cereal grains, legumes and potatoes – and have nothing to do with the diet being low in carbohydrate?

When you change your diet and get improvements in health factors – you simply MUST look at all the changes that were made – and please don’t assume that it is the low carb, or the zone diet balance or eating for your blood group, or vegan. Look at the foods you removed – could they be a food that you are reacting to? For example: gluten, nightshades or FODMAPS, diary etc.

If you don’t do this you will become a fanatic for the wrong cause.



1. Williams, R. (1981). RHEUMATOID-ARTHRITIS AND FOOD – A CASE-STUDY. British Medical Journal, 283(6290), 563-563.

2. Beri, D., Malaviya, A. N., Shandilya, R., & Singh, R. R. (1988). EFFECT OF DIETARY RESTRICTIONS ON DISEASE-ACTIVITY IN RHEUMATOID-ARTHRITIS. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 47(1), 69-72. doi: 10.1136/ard.47.1.69






  1. I hear ya. An example is the ‘eat right for your blood type’ diets. 2 of 3 of them eliminate wheat so no wonder people are going to feel better on them.

  2. I just finished reading ‘Keto Clarity’ (good book) and I agree w/ you, Julianne; The Arthritis improvement is more likely to be from elimination of grains, legumes and potatoes. I have talked to several people who had major improvement in arthritis symptoms after eliminating gluten.

    In ‘Keto Clarity’, Jimmy Moore says: “It stands to reason that because being in a state of ketosis is anti-inflammatory, it would be beneficial for people suffering from arthritis. But to date we’ve seen no scientific proof that a ketogenic diet can help with this. Nevertheless, many people are convinced their arthritis improved once they started eating a low-carb, high-fat diet.”.

    The testimonial you posted is a great example of how a ketogenic diet can reverse type 2 diabetes and dramatically help with weight-loss…; My husband experienced these benefits, plus LDL cholesterol changing from the dangerous small particles to the fluffy “good” pattern. We applied Keto-Paleo principles, but keto is not required to make these changes for everyone. My husband uses keto because it is the only reliable way for him to lose weight. For him, the biggest factor is complete lack of hunger on a ketogenic diet. But, I think that low carb paleo will work for many people to make the above improvements.

    When experiencing dramatic health improvements, it is so easy to assume that all of the benefits are from one cause. In reality, Keto was the umbrella under which other variable changes also occurred, resulting in arthritis improvement.

  3. Agree but perhaps room for synergy. Did avoiding food triggers completely resolve arthritis or just improve it?
    Very low carb diet has antiinflammatory effects that would lower sensitivity at same time as foods are being eliminated? TNFa, and so on.

  4. I have inflammatory arthritis (diagnosed May 2013) and have benefited greatly from autoimmune paleo (late May 2014). After having been mostly paleo for more than 5 years with many food intolerances, removing the last few things I was reacting to worked wonders (nuts, peanut butter, coconut and coconut oil, ghee, nightshades). I would be interested to know if any of the mechanisms for inflammation involving night shades have been discovered. I also am still able to consume coffee and chocolate without issue, so I am also curious why this may be. Thank you for your work in this area!

  5. I will suggest an interesting supplement for you to add to your study.
    Pruvit is launching the first exogenous ketones – now you can drink your ketones and be in ketosis. I suggest you contact me to try KETO-OS ketone supplement to put the body in ketosis, but keep eating the grains, cereals, legumes and allergens.
    This would be a remarkable way to study your hypothesis!!!

  6. I’ve been low carb for almost two years. After a couple of months of being low carb (20-30 grammes a day), the aches and pains in my knuckles and fingers went away. Last month I totally fell off the wagon and I’ve been stuffing carbs ever since, and as of yesterday, the aches and pains in my knuckles and fingers has returned. Maybe a coincidence, maybe not.

  7. Really? You’re going to advise a woman who was diagnosed with T2D to eat fruit and sweet potatoes? Shame. Maybe the RA improved buy taking out the nightshades and grains, but let’s not forget she was T2 and there is nothing better for blood sugar than a low-carb diet.

    • You clearly didn’t read my post properly. That is NOT what I said. I was adressing the fact that RA symptoms reducing were more likely as a result of taking out food that causes flares, not low carb per se.
      In this context – I said for the women I interviewed with RA – sweet potato and fruit was not a problem – i.e. they did not cause a flare in RA symptoms. I said nothing about type 2 diabetes.

      And for the record, if carbs are not tolerated for whatever reason (like elevating blood glucose in type 2 diabetes) I do think they are best avoided.

  8. Interesting…I was talking to a T1D yesterday and he notices that pork really shoves up his blood glucose. So I asked him if lamb does the same and he said no. I wonder if it is because the pigs are grain-fed but lambs tend to be grass-fed.

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