Foods to Avoid With Arthritis

Avoid These Foods That Cause Inflammation

As we get older, our bodies can react differently to foods that were once staples of our everyday diet. And when you have arthritis, these negative reactions can actually become a contributor to the problem by exacerbating the pain.

It has been proven that certain foods can contribute significantly to inflammation and arthritis pain symptoms.

Although there is no cure for arthritis, eating a diet heavy in these inflammation-inducing foods has been shown to increase discomfort of arthritis sufferers. However, eliminating these foods from your diet may help to ease the symptoms of your arthritis.

Most of the foods on this list also increase your risk for becoming obese. And, in high quantities, are bad for your health in general.

Find out which foods to avoid in order to lessen your pain right now.



Refined Carbohydrates

Refined Carbohydrates - Bowl of White Rice

Credit: by Ian L.

The first inflammation-increasing foods on this list are called refined carbohydrates.

Refined carbohydrates are defined as sugars and starches that don’t appear in nature. They have gone through a modification process and have been altered in some way to make them purer and more refined.

Refined sugars and flours have been shown to cause inflammation in the joints and thus make arthritis pain worse. White flour products like breads and crackers, white rice, instant mashed potatoes, French fries and many cereals are refined carbohydrates. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition warns that processed sugars activate the release of “inflammatory messengers” called cytokines, which aggravate arthritis and increase joint pain. Also, high-glycemic index foods like refined carbohydrates have been seen to fuel the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) products which rouse inflammation.

Refined carbohydrates are not only found in food, but also are prevalent in sodas, concentrated juices, and beer.

According to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, there was a link between soda consumption and risk for arthritis. “Women who drank one soda or more daily had a 63% greater risk of arthritis than those who didn’t drink it at all.” It doesn’t even help to drink sugar-free sodas because artificial sweeteners, specifically aspartame, are also bad for arthritis and for your health in general, and we’ll get to that in a few minutes.

In order to avoid refined carbohydrates, eat more whole grains and limit the amount of sweets in your diet. This will help to reduce the inflammation associated with refined carbohydrate food consumption.



Fried, High-Fat Foods

Eating Fried Chicken Is Bad for Arthritis

Credit: by Maliz Ong

As mentioned before, AGE products can cause inflammation, and these toxins are typically found in fried foods.

Cutting back on fried and high-fat foods of this nature can reduce inflammation. Also, high-calorie foods tend to cause weight gain and should be avoided by those with arthritis. In a study of hundreds of women, they found that a familial history of obesity was linked to an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

“Pizza and cheese are the biggest sources of saturated fats in the average American diet”, according to the National Cancer Institute. Other offenders comprise of red meats and full-fat dairy products, which leads us to the next arthritis pain culprit.



Red Meat

Foods The Cause Inflammation: Red Meat

Credit: by Alex Grichenko

Red meat is responsible for increasing the symptoms of gout (which is a form of arthritis), but it is also believed that red meat may worsen the symptoms of other types of arthritis as well.

According to a study performed by the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging that found, “22.6 percent of participants who exhibited arthritis and soft tissue disorders were much more likely to consume meat regularly, or more than once per week, compared to the participants who did not.” For information about this study, read this article on about red meat and arthritis.

If you’ve already stopped eating cured pork products and grilled steak because of the high levels of saturated fat contained inside each serving, you may be able to benefit from a reduction in inflammation as well.

Foods that are cooked at high temperatures, like meats, may intensify inflammation because of the release of toxic AGEs that were discussed earlier in this article.

Your body naturally makes AGEs, also known as glycotoxins. Although some AGEs are not a problem, large amounts of AGEs inside the tissues and bloodstream can activate an inflammatory reaction. In order to avoid this excess inflammation, limit your servings of red meat in your diet.

And get more fruits and fresh vegetables in your diet. Cooked or raw, they’re low in AGEs, and many contain healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can decrease some of the damage done by AGEs.



Omega 6 Fatty Acids



Getting a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can help reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis. Conversely, eating too many omega-6 fatty acids can have a negative effect on arthritis.

According to Everyday Health, “The COX-2 enzymes responsible for joint inflammation can be activated by eating too many foods high in omega-6 fatty acids found in meat and even unsaturated fats like safflower and corn oils…An imbalance of omega-6s and omega-3s can trigger joint inflammation and make RA symptoms worse.”

While omega-6s are essential for normal growth and development, it is an unfortunate fact that unknown to a lot of arthritis sufferers, omega-6 fatty acids are extremely prevalent in our American diet.

According to Prevention “the typical American diet can contain up to 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in soybean oil, which is used in just about every packaged food you pluck from grocery store shelves.”

The Arthritis Foundation articulates that “excess consumption of omega-6s can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals” which exacerbate arthritis pain and make matters worse.

In order to avoid over-indulging in foods high in omega-6 and balance out your consumption ratio, try to eat foods that are either fortified with omega-3, or naturally high in them like fish such as salmon and other cold-water fish, walnuts, and flaxseed, and make sure to consume fewer foods that are high in omega-6 fatty acids like red meats, fried foods, margarine, egg yolks, and vegetable oils.




Homemade Bread by Lydia Jacobs

Eating a “gluten-free” is currently a national hot topic, and if you are suffering from arthritis pain, there may be something to limiting your gluten intake. News Max states that “Gluten is a protein complex that is found mostly in wheat products as well as rye and barley. Gluten is the primary suspect in Celiac disease, which is an inflammatory condition that mimics arthritis.”

It is said that normal allergens like gluten and casein may also promote inflammation, but according to the Arthritis Foundation, dairy has not been proven to actually upset arthritis symptoms.

For people existing with arthritis who also have a gluten allergy, the increased inflammatory result can be even worse.

In order to decide whether or not you have an issue with gluten, try limiting the amount of gluten you eat on a daily basis and measure whether or not your arthritis symptoms improve.


Eating Excess Salt

Consuming Excess Salt is Bad for Arthritis Pain


Humans have an undeniable taste for salt, and Americans have been known to “consume more than eight times more salt than what the body actually needs which can result in water retention, dehydration, and hypertension.” Unfortunately, people with certain types of arthritis may be at higher risk for negative effects related to high salt consumption. “People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may feel salt’s effects even more. Corticosteroids, commonly used to treat RA, cause the body to hold more sodium. Keep salt to less than 1,500 mg daily”

Unfortunately, people with certain types of arthritis may be at higher risk for negative effects related to high salt consumption. “People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may feel salt’s effects even more. Corticosteroids, commonly used to treat RA, cause the body to hold more sodium. Keep salt to less than 1,500 mg daily” says an article from the Arthritis Foundation.

Cutting back on your daily salt intake will benefit you in many ways other than just lowering your sodium levels. It can lower your risk for high blood pressure as well.

Be careful though. Even if you don’t add a ton of salt to all of your meals, almost all canned, ready-made, or frozen foods contain high levels of sodium to increase shelf life and keep them from going bad. Make sure that you read the labels on all of the pre-made foods you purchase at the grocery store.

For more tips on how to eat less salt, read the full Arthritis Foundation article here.



MSG Can Cause Inflammation


Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor-enhancing salt “food additive commonly found in packaged foods, prepared Asian foods, fast foods, prepared soups and soup mixes, salad dressings and deli meats. This chemical can activate two important pathways of chronic inflammation, and affect liver health,” states the Arthritis Foundation.

When most individuals think about MSG, Chinese food comes to mind. Interestingly enough though, monosodium glutamate is fairly prevalent in many non-organic processed and pre-packaged foods on the shelves of most grocery stores.

Glutamate, which is a component of MSG, has been found to cause injury to nerve endings when taken in excess. When this happens, there is an amplification of pain. According to a study referenced by, “researchers speculate that modulating glutamate receptors and either lowering glutamate levels in the brain or reducing its impact may be beneficial in treating various causes of chronic pain such as spinal injuries, diabetic neuropathy and rheumatoid arthritis.”

As a precaution, you should avoid consuming MSG and read all labels diligently. Other names for MSG include glutamic acid, yeast extract, hydrolyzed protein, sodium caseinate, and autolyzed yeast.




Aspartame Sweeteners


If you’re attempting to go sugar-free, you may have stocked up on foods and drinks containing an artificial sweetener called aspartame.

Aspartame is a non-nutritive, intense artificial sweetener found in more than 4,000 products worldwide. It is a neurotoxin, which means it affects the brain,” says the Arthritis Foundation. If you have a sensitivity to this sweetener, you may have an inflammatory response reaction.

Instead of purchasing foods and drinks that contain aspartame, opt for natural sweeteners like honey, agave syrup, or stevia. According to Natural News, most people who eliminate aspartame and other offensive food additives

According to Natural News, most people who eliminate aspartame and other offensive food additives experience a reduction in their muscle and joint pain after a period of avoiding these chemicals.



Final Thoughts

While it may not be easy, you should test removing each one of these from your diet for a few weeks to see if it helps with your arthritis pain. Not everything will have an impact on your health, but in general, the more you can remove from your life, the healthier you will feel. Of course, consult your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about altering your diet.


Are there any other bad foods that you think of that might cause arthritis inflammation or irritation? Has removing any of these habits from your daily routine helped you out?

Send us your thoughts on our Facebook page, we’d love to hear from you.


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