8 Foods to Avoid if You Have Arthritis

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I know what you’re thinking: what do foods have to do with arthritis, right?

Arthritis is a pretty common health condition that involves chronic inflammation in your joints. It can cause pain and damage to joints, bones, and other body parts depending on which type of arthritis you have.

Osteoarthritis, for example, is a noninflammatory disease, and it’s the most common one out of 100 types out there. Even more, up to 40% of men and 47% of women might be diagnosed with osteoarthritis at this point.

Meantime, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis are two inflammatory conditions that fit the autoimmune disease description. Gout is another type of inflammatory arthritis.

Lots of research are showing that dietary interventions, like eliminating the specific type of foods and beverages, might have something to do with how severe the symptoms feel, especially in people with inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis. Here are 8 foods you shouldn’t eat anymore if you have arthritis.

Added sugars

It is generally recommended you limit your sugar intake, but this applies even more if you have arthritis. Added sugars that are found in candy, soda, ice cream, and many other foods, might include less obvious items, such as barbecue sauce.

There was a study conducted on 217 people who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis that noted how among 20 foods, the sodas that were sweetened with sugar, and desserts were the ones that would worsen RA symptoms.

Even more, sugary drinks such as soda might have a significant impact on your arthritis. In another study in 1,209 adults aged between 20-30 years old, those who were drinking fructose-sweetened drinks 5 times a week or more were more at risk of having arthritis than those who consume few to no drinks sweetened with fructose.

Processed and red meats

Some research has linked red and processed meat to inflammation, as it might increase your arthritis symptoms. For example, a couple of diets that are heavy in processed and red meats have demonstrated enormous levels of inflammatory markers such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), and homocysteine.

The study, which was conducted on 217 people with RA mentioned above, also found that red meat was way worse for Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms. Plus, a study of 25,630 people concluded that high red meat intake might be a risk factor for inflammatory arthritis.

On a completely different note, plant-based diets that exclude red meat are known to alleviate arthritis symptoms.

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Gluten-containing foods

Gluten is a group of proteins that can be found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale, which is a cross between wheat and rye. There are some studies that proved how gluten is linked to increased inflammation and suggests that going gluten-free might have a positive impact on arthritis symptoms.

Even more, people who suffer from celiac disease are even more at risk of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis. On the same note, those who suffer from autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis might have a higher prevalence of celiac disease than other people.

There is a 1-year study on 66 people that showed how a gluten-free, vegan diet might reduce disease activity and improve inflammation. Even if these findings are promising, there should be even more studies to confirm if a gluten-free diet benefits people who have arthritis.

…Trying to live gluten-free? This can get you started!

Highly processed foods

Ultra-processed foods such as fast food, breakfast cereal, and baked goods are usually higher in refined grains, added sugar, preservatives, and many other potentially inflammatory ingredients, which might all worsen arthritis symptoms.

Research proves that Western diets that contain only heavily processed foods might increase your risk of RA, but contribute to inflammation and risk factors such as obesity.

Even more, in a research conducted on 56 people who suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis, those who consumed bigger amounts of ultra-processed food showed higher heart disease risk factors, including higher levels of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), a long-term marker of blood sugar control.

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Alcohol

As alcohol might only make things worse, anyone with inflammatory arthritis should definitely restrict or avoid it. In a study of 278 people who had axial spondyloarthritis, which is inflammatory arthritis that is primarily affecting the spinal cord and sacroiliac (SI) joints, the alcohol intake only increased spinal structural damage.

Studies have also shown that alcohol intake might worsen the frequency and severity of gout attacks. Even more, chronic alcohol consumption is also associated with an increased risk of osteoarthritis, even if not all studies showed a connection between them.

Some vegetable oils

Diets that are high in omega-6 fats and low in omega-3 fats might worsen your symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These fats are highly needed for your overall health. Even so, the imbalanced ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in the majority of Western diets might be linked to increased inflammation.

Reducing the number of foods that are high in omega-6 fats, like vegetable oils, while also increasing the amount of omega-3-rich foods such as fatty fish might have a positive impact on your arthritis symptoms.

Foods rich in salt

While cutting back on salt might actually be a good decision for people with arthritis, at least it’s worth knowing why right? Well, products that are high in salt can vary from shrimp, canned soup, and pizza, to specific types of cheeses and processed meats.

Foods high in AGEs

Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are basically those molecules that were created through reactions between sugars and proteins or fats. They might naturally exist in uncooked animal foods are might even be formed when you cook food in a specific way.

High protein, and high-fat animal foods that you fry, roast, grill, sear, or broil are some of the richest dietary sources of AGEs. These might include bacon, pan-fried or even grilled steak, roasted or fried chicken, but also broiled hot dogs.

Other delicious and beloved foods that are also rich in AGEs are french fries, American cheese, margarine, and mayonnaise.

When your body accumulates high amounts of AGEs, oxidative stress and inflammation might happen. Oxidative stress and AGE formation are linked to disease progression in those with arthritis.

People who suffer from inflammatory arthritis might have been proven to have bigger levels of AGEs in their bodies, much more than people without arthritis. AGE accumulation in bones and joints might also play a big role in the development and progression of osteoarthritis.

Replacing foods that are high in AGE with more nutritious, whole foods approaches such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and fish might have a positive impact on the total amount of AGE in your body.

If you enjoyed reading this article, we also recommend reading: 10 Subtle Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

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