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10 Foods To Avoid If You Have Arthritis

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Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and pain in the joints. There are over 100 types of arthritis, all involving some degree of inflammation.The most common is osteoarthritis, others being rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout. While diet may not directly cause arthritis, certain foods and drinks, like highly processed foods and sweetened drinks, may increase the risk of arthritis or worsen symptoms. Appropriate dietary choices can help manage symptoms, reduce complications, and improve overall well-being for those with arthritis.

This article will explain 10 foods you must avoid if you have arthritis.


10. Gluten Foods

Research has suggested a potential link between gluten, a group of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and other cereals, and increased inflammation in certain individuals with arthritis. Limited studies have indicated that a gluten-free diet may help ease arthritis symptoms, particularly in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Individuals with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten consumption, also risk developing RA more than those without celiac disease.

Preliminary research has also shown that a gluten-free, vegan diet might reduce disease activity and improve inflammation in individuals with arthritis. However, it is important to note that the existing research is limited and further studies are needed to validate these findings.

9. Advanced glycation end (AGE) products

Foods cooked at high temperatures produce toxins called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs result from the combination of proteins or fats with sugars in a process known as glycation. These compounds can damage proteins in the body, triggering an immune response involving cytokine release, leading to inflammation. The formation of AGEs occurs not only during cooking but also through the consumption of pasteurized foods.

Studies have shown that AGEs can activate immune cells and stimulate the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, contributing to increased inflammation. Avoiding foods cooked at high temperatures and opting for gentler cooking methods are recommended to minimize AGE formation. Increasing the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables may also be beneficial.

8. Inflammatory Fats

Certain fats have been found to increase inflammation in the body, and individuals with arthritis are advised to limit their consumption. Omega-6 fatty acids, present in oils like corn, safflower, sunflower, and vegetable oils, can contribute to inflammation when consumed excessively. Saturated fats, found in meat, butter, and cheese, should account for less than 10% of daily calorie intake to help manage inflammation.

Trans fats, known for their detrimental effects on cholesterol levels and inflammation, have been banned from prepared foods by the FDA, although some processed foods may still contain them. Checking nutrition facts panels and ingredient lists is important to avoid trans fat consumption. Individuals with arthritis are advised to reduce their intake of omega-6 fatty acids, saturated fats, and trans fats and opt for healthier fats like monounsaturated fats found in olive oil and avocados.

7. Nightshade Vegetables

Several nightshade vegetables, including tomatoes, bell peppers, chili peppers, eggplant, and potatoes, contain solanine. This compound has been shown to interfere with the gut microbiota and cause inflammation in some individuals. However, the evidence regarding the direct impact of nightshades on arthritis pain is limited and inconclusive.

Some studies indicate that these vegetables may have anti-inflammatory properties, while others suggest a possible link to increased inflammation. To determine if nightshades worsen arthritis symptoms, the Arthritis Foundation recommends excluding them from the diet for a few weeks and reintroducing them one by one while monitoring any reactions. Keeping a food diary can aid in tracking specific responses. If symptoms are observed upon reintroduction, avoiding the nightshade vegetable triggering the symptoms is advisable.

6. Foods Rich in Purines

For individuals with gout, a low-purine diet is often recommended alongside medications. Purines are substances found in certain foods that can be converted to uric acid, leading to gout attacks. High-purine foods include organ meats, cured meats, and some seafood. However, a 2018 review found that purine-rich vegetables like cauliflower, mushrooms, and beans have no links to gout risk. Individuals with gout need to work with healthcar professionals or registered dietitians to develop a personalized dietary plan. They can provide guidance on specific purine-rich foods to limit or avoid based on individual needs.

5. Sugary Foods

Limiting sugar intake, particularly added sugars, benefits individuals with arthritis. Added sugars can be found in various foods and beverages, including soda, desserts, and unexpected sources like barbecue sauce and salad dressings. A study involving people with rheumatoid arthritis found that sugar-sweetened soda and desserts were most likely to worsen symptoms. High sugar intake may contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress, exacerbating arthritis symptoms. Excessive sugar consumption can also lead to weight gain and increase the risk of developing arthritis and other chronic conditions.

4. Processed Meat

Research suggests a potential link between red meat and processed meat consumption and increased inflammation, which can worsen arthritis symptoms. High intake of these meats has been associated with elevated levels of markers of inflammation. A study with individuals with rheumatoid arthritis found that red meat commonly worsened symptoms. Plant-based diets may improve arthritis symptoms, according to a 2019 review.

Another study found a higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis associated with processed meat consumption but no significant link with red meat or poultry. Opting for lean meat sources, incorporating plant-based foods, and considering individual variations in response can help manage arthritis symptoms effectively.

3. High Salty Foods

Reducing salt intake may benefit individuals with arthritis as research suggests a potential link between high salt consumption and worsened symptoms. Foods high in salt, such as shrimp, canned soup, pizza, certain cheeses, and processed meats, should be limited. High sodium intake has also been associated with an increased risk of autoimmune diseases like inflammatory arthritis in humans. Salt stimulates immunological processes that lead to inflammation, potentially exacerbating symptoms. To manage arthritis symptoms, individuals are advised to reduce their consumption of high-salt foods.

2. Refined Carbohydrates Foods

Limiting refined carbohydrates is important for individuals with arthritis as they can increase inflammation and the risk of obesity. Refined carbohydrates lack fiber and nutrients and are found in white bread, baked goods, and desserts. Studies have shown that low-carbohydrate diets can reduce pain symptoms in knee osteoarthritis. Choosing healthier carbohydrate sources such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is crucial.

1. Alcohol

Excessive drinking is associated with increased cancer risks, diabetes, and stroke. Certain alcoholic beverages, such as purine-rich beer, can trigger gout. However, moderate intake of red wine, which contains compounds like resveratrol, may have anti-inflammatory properties and potentially reduce inflammation in certain types of arthritis.

It is crucial to emphasize moderation, with CDC guidelines suggesting up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. In conclusion, we have explored various evidence-based dietary factors that can influence arthritis symptoms. We can reduce inflammation, manage pain, and improve overall well-being by making informed diet choices.

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