Nobody wants to experience pain, especially if it’s ongoing. Chronic pain can get in the way of our day-to-day lives, making it impossible to do all of the things that we love, like spending time with our friends and family or going for a soothing walk. When you’re diagnosed with arthritis it can seem like a whirlwind of medication and doctors visits just to get a little relief from that pain. While your arthritis treatment is very important, there are some steps that you can take on your own every day to reduce the amount of pain you’re experiencing. The secret? It’s all about the food that you eat.

Sadly, arthritis is not something that will simply go away on its own. Cases of arthritis are on the rise, with a projected 78,000,000 US adults suffering from it by the year 2040 [1]. Because of the fact that arthritis is the inflammation of joints within the body, it’s important to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet if you hope to feel better on a daily basis. But in order to do that, there may be some inflammatory foods that you’ll need to cut out of your diet. So, we’ve compiled a quick and easy list for you so these changes are quick and easy to make!

Inflammatory Foods to Avoid if you have Arthritis

1. Gluten

inflammatory foods

If you have Celiac disease you’re already avoiding it, but some people may be unaware of their sensitivity to gluten, this is known as Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) [12]. You may want try avoiding foods that contain gluten if you wish to reduce your joint pain.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue instead of viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. For people who have Celiac Disease, gluten triggers a powerful autoimmune response that damages the small intestine, causes inflammation, and affects the bodies ability to absorb nutrients [2].

“In some people, the immune system sees gluten as the enemy and will unleash weapons to attack it, causing inflammation in the intestines as well as in other organs and tissues [2].” Alessio Fasano, MD, the director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

So, if you know that your body does not agree with gluten and you’re experiencing arthritis pain, then it might be a good idea to steer clear of foods that contain gluten.

2. Dairy

inflammatory foods

Between milk in our cereal and cheese in our primavera sauce, dairy is a big component to the meals that we eat throughout our day. Most of us have been told from a young age that milk will make our bones strong, but will it really help our arthritis symptoms? Some doctors say yes, and others say no.

“It’s hard to draw conclusions,” Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “Dairy isn’t a single food [3].”

What he means is that ‘dairy’ ranges in anything from milk, to yogurt, to ice cream, and that research hasn’t narrowed down which component is helpful, and which is harmful.

Until more research is conducted, and we are able to pinpoint the component within dairy that those of us with arthritis should stay away from, it may be best to avoid dairy products altogether.

3. Fried Foods

inflammatory foods

You won’t be surprised to find that fried foods make it onto this list. If you want to keep your body happy and healthy it’s important to steer clear of the fried foods, especially if you’re suffering from arthritis.

An intake of fried food is linked to obesity, and obesity increases inflammation in the body because the pressure is put on the joints due to added weight on the body [4,5]. Cutting fried food out of your diet will not only decrease inflammation within your body and reduce your arthritis symptoms, but it will get you one step closer to reaching your target weight.

4. Certain Foods Cooked at High Temperatures

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inflammatory foods

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York have found that frying, roasting, searing, or grilling certain foods at high temperatures can actually make your inflammation worse.

Our bodies formadvanced glycation end products (AGEs) as part of our metabolic process. While AGEs aren’t bad, high levels in the tissue and blood can cause an inflammatory response and have been linked to diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease [6].

But, not all foods produce high levels of AGEs when cooked at high temperatures. Beef, pork, fish, chicken, and eggs are all highest on the list of dietary AGEs [6]. Try cutting down on these foods within your diet and when you do choose to cook with them, grill them at a lower temperature to minimize AGEs.

5. Sugar

inflammatory foods

While your daily can of soda might be refreshing, it’s hurting your body more than you think. A diet high in sugar has a direct effect on the inflammation within your body, and it will make your arthritis symptoms worse.

A study of 29 healthy people found that just one can of soda (40 grams in a 375 ml can) leads to an increase in inflammatory markers, insulin resistance and LDL cholesterol [7].

6. Alcohol & Tobacco

inflammatory foods

If you have arthritis, and you’re one to enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner or a cigarette on your back porch in the evening, for the sake of your body you may want to reconsider.

Tobacco has been proven to cause many problems in the body, one of which being increased weight, which leads to pressure on the joints, and inflammation [10]. A few studies have shown that alcohol, however, may have some beneficial elements that could actually reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis [8]. The key is moderation.

“We saw that for women who drank between 5 and 10 grams of alcohol a day, there was a reduced risk of RA [8],” says Dr. Costenbader, a rheumatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

That works out to less than a glass of wine or beer daily.

7. Refined Carbs

inflammatory foods

Refined carbs are also known as simple carbs or processed carbs. These are carbs that have been stripped down of all fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and they have also been linked to inflammation in the body [9].

The main dietary source of refined carbs are white flour, white bread, white rice, pastries, sodas, sweets, breakfast cereals, and added sugars, and you should cut down on all of these if you wish to reduce inflammation in your body.

8. Nightshade Vegetables

inflammatory foods

A nightshade vegetable is not one single veggie, but rather a family grouping of vegetables. There are more than 3000 varieties in this group, but the most commonly seen in the average kitchen are:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Potatoes
  • Paprika
  • Chili Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper

Studies have shown that potato compounds (or glycoalkaloids) increase intestinal inflammation and intestinal permeability in rats[11]. While the effect on humans is currently unknown, countries that eat the most fried potatoes have the highest rate of irritable bowel syndrome, which suggests a potential relationship [11].

At the end of the day, more information is needed to know for sure if this grouping of vegetables is responsible for further inflammation. If you are curious to see how these veggies are affecting your arthritic inflammation, you can try an elimination diet to find the root cause of the problem.

If some of your favorite foods have made it onto this list, consider the benefits that your body will have if you phase these foods out of your diet: your inflammation may lighten, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll feel more motivated to do the things that you love again. The foods that we put in our mouth is one of the few things that we can fully control in life, so why not make the best choices possible for our body?

Keep Reading: Study Lists 33 Foods Proven to Relieve Rheumatoid Arthritis

[1] Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis-Related Statistics. (March 6, 2017). https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/arthritis-related-stats.htm

[2] Linda Rath. The Connection Between Gluten and Arthritis. (July, 2015). https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/anti-inflammatory/gluten-free-diet.php

[3] Arthritis Foundation. Dairy: Arthritis Friend of Foe? https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/healthy-eating/dairy-and-inflammation.php

[4] Guallar-Castillon P, Rodriguez-Artalejo F, Fornes NS, Banegas JR, Etxezarreta PA, Ardanaz E, Barricarte A, Chirlaque MD, Iraeta MD, Larranaga NL, Losada A, Mendez M, Martinez C, Quiros JR, Navarro C, Jakszyn P, Sanchez MJ, Tormo MJ, Gonzalez CA. Intake of fried foods is associated with obesity in the cohort of Spanish adults from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. (July 2007).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17616781

[5] Andrea Kane. How Fat Affects Arthritis. https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/obesity-arthritis/fat-and-arthritis.php

[6] Arthritis Foundation. High Cooking Temperature can make Inflammation Worse. (Feb. 13, 2018). http://blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/high-cooking-temperature-inflammation/

[7] Aeberli I1, Gerber PA, Hochuli M, Kohler S, Haile SR, Gouni-Berthold I, Berthold HK, Spinas GA, Berneis K. Low to moderate sugar-sweetened beverage consumption impairs glucose and lipid metabolism and promotes inflammation in healthy young men: a randomized controlled trial. (Aug. 2011). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21677052

[8] Arthritis Foundation. Alcohol and Arthritis. https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/foods-to-avoid-limit/alcohol-in-moderation.php

[9] Spreadbury. Comparison with ancestral diets suggests dense acellular carbohydrates promote an inflammatory microbiota, and may be the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity. (July 6, 2012). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22826636

[10] Leo Niskanen, David E. Laaksonen, Kristiina Nyysso¨nen, Kari Punnonen, Veli-Pekka Valkonen, Ricardo Fuentes, Tomi-Pekka Tuomainen, Riitta Salonen, Jukka T. Salonen. Inflammation, Abdominal Obesity, and Smoking as Predictors of Hypertension. (Oct. 18, 2004). http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/hypertensionaha/44/6/859.full.pdf

[11]Patel B1, Schutte R, Sporns P, Doyle J, Jewel L, Fedorak RN. Potato glycoalkaloids adversely affect intestinal permeability and aggravate inflammatory bowel disease. (Sept. 8, 2002). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12479649

[12] Mansueto, P., Seidita, A., D’Alcamo, A., & Carroccio, A. (2014). Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: Literature review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24533607

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The Hearty Soul
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We believe in using natural ingredients to be as healthy as possible. We believe dieting will never work as well as a lifestyle of healthy habits will. We believe you can treat pain and disease without relying on addictive drugs. We believe being happy is a big part of a healthy life.
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