“Arthritis” is a general term encompassing conditions that share joint pain and inflammation. There are many different types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.
Typical treatment involves inflammation and pain-reducing medications. There’s no single diet to follow. However, research suggests including anti-inflammatory foods in your diet and limiting foods that may trigger joint pain.
Read on to learn about the arthritis trigger foods you should avoid.
Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine examined disease prevention through diet. In their 2009 study, they found that decreasing the amount of fried and processed foods eaten can “reduce inflammation and actually help restore the body’s natural defenses.”
What you can do: Cut down on the amount of fried and processed foods you eat, such as fried meats and prepared frozen meals. Include more vegetables and fruits in your diet.
AGE doesn’t refer to how many birthdays you’ve celebrated. An advanced glycation end product (AGE) is a toxin that appears when foods are heated, grilled, fried, or pasteurized.
AGEs damage certain proteins in your body. Your body tries to break these AGEs apart by using cytokines, which are inflammatory messengers. Depending on where the AGEs occur, they may result in arthritis or other forms of inflammation.
What you can do: Research has shown that reducing the amount of food cooked at high temperatures in your diet could potentially help reduce blood AGE levels.
High amounts of sugar in your diet result in an increase in AGEs, which can cause inflammation.
What you can do: Cut out candies, processed foods, white flour baked goods, and sodas to reduce your arthritis pain.
Dairy products may contribute to arthritis pain due to the type of protein they contain. For some people, this protein may irritate the tissue around their joints. Others living with arthritis have success switching to a vegan diet, which contains no animal products whatsoever.
What you can do: Instead of getting protein from meat and dairy, try getting most of your protein from vegetables like spinach, nut butters, tofu, beans, lentils, and quinoa to see if your symptoms improve.
Tobacco and alcohol use can lead to a number of health problems, including some that may affect your joints. If you smoke, you’re at risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis. If you consume alcohol, you have a higher risk for developing gout.
What you can do: Healthy joints require a balanced diet, physical activity, and an adequate amount of rest — all of which can be compromised by alcohol and tobacco use.
Consider cutting back on drinking and smoking. Make sure your daily activities include healthy meal choices, regular exercise, and quality sleep.
Know what’s in your food. Many foods contain excessive salt and other preservatives to promote longer shelf lives. Excess consumption of salt may result in inflammation of your joints. Reducing your salt intake to as modest an amount as is reasonable may help.
What you can do:Read labels to avoid preservatives and additives. Less salt may help you manage your arthritis, which includes avoiding prepared meals. Though they’re convenient, prepared meals are often very high in sodium.
Many baked goods and snacks contain corn or other oils high in omega-6 fatty acids, which may trigger inflammation. According the Mayo Clinic, some studies have found that fish oil, which contains omega-3s, may help with joint pain relief.
What you can do: Replace foods containing omega-6 fatty acids with healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 alternatives such as olive oil, nuts, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
There’s no established arthritis diet plan. What works for one person may not work for someone else. Trial and error will help you determine which foods you need to remove from your diet.
In general, experts advise people with arthritis to maintain a healthy body weight and eat a balanced diet.