Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cushion of cartilage between your joints breaks down and wears away. It can cause severe joint pain and swelling.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is an inflammatory condition. Its symptoms can be aggravated by eating foods that contribute to inflammation in the body. Avoiding certain foods could help you to avoid triggering OA flare-ups.
We’ll explore six foods to avoid when you have osteoarthritis.
Sugar-rich carbohydrates, such as processed cakes, cookies, and bakery items, may actually change your body’s immune-response to disease according to one study. This reaction can worsen inflammation and leave your strained joints feeling even weaker.
Natural substitutes such as pure maple syrup and honey may appease your sweet tooth without contributing to arthritis symptoms.
Eating too much salt (sodium) causes your cells to retain water. This means that they swell up.
Your body does need sodium to function. However, eating too much leads to an inflammatory reaction. This can contribute to joint damage.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most Americans consume too much sodium daily. To cut back on sodium, try swapping out your salt for other spices, like lemon zest, or flavored peppers, like garlic pepper, to enhance your food.
The Arthritis Foundation points out that foods high in saturated fats, such as french fries and donuts, can increase inflammation in the body and make arthritis pain worse.
The chemical reaction in your body caused by the oils used to fry food can raise your cholesterol, too.
Stick with foods that are baked without any oil additives. When you need to use oil to cook with, opt for a small amount of olive or avocado oil instead.
Refined wheat products, like white bread, stimulate your body’s inflammatory response. That’s why eating a lot of refined pastas, cereals, and grain products might make your arthritis pain flare up.
To avoid this, choose whole grains whenever possible. Avoid bread products that have been heavily processed. Gluten-containing whole grains and yeast additives may also impact arthritis pain.
According to the Harvard Medical School, you should limit your intake of foods containing omega-6 fatty acids, such as egg yolks and red meat. Saturated fats may increase levels of inflammation in the body, making arthritis pain worse.
Eating foods rich in omega-3s, such as salmon, almonds, and beans, will give you the protein you need without worsening your OA symptoms.
Dairy products are believed to cause inflammation in some people, and that triggers arthritis pain. A study found that people with arthritis who avoided animal milks experienced a significant improvement in their symptoms.
Substitute dairy with a healthy source of fats, like almond milk, or an anti-inflammatory, like flax milk. Make sure to avoid carrageenan in these milks, which is an additive derived from seaweed that can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and weaken intestinal permeability.
Most experts discourage drinking alcohol to excess when you have osteoarthritis. Drinking alcohol, especially beer, can contribute to flare-ups because of high purine levels in commercial alcohol products.
Moreover, most arthritis medication should never be mixed with alcohol because it interacts with the effectiveness of the drug and can be dangerous.
Foods that people with osteoarthritis should avoid also happen to be foods that interfere with a healthy diet.
Limiting these foods can benefit your arthritis in two ways. First, it reduces levels of inflammation in your body. Second, it may help you lose a bit of weight.
Even small incremental weight loss can make a difference in arthritis symptom severity. Speak to your doctor about how your diet might be affecting your arthritis symptoms.