7 Foods To Avoid If You Have Arthritis
Eating right with arthritis can make all the difference. It’s why we’ve put together a host of recipes packed with good-for-arthritis ingredients. But knowing what not to eat when managing arthritis can be just as important and knowing what you should.
You should always eat a healthy, balanced diet, but there are certain foods which have inflammatory properties. Some people think inflammatory foods can make arthritis pain worse. Arthritis already causes inflammation (i.e. swelling and pain) in the joints, so foods with inflammatory properties may increase those painful symptoms.
People have different experiences with different foods and you definitely don’t have to totally remove something you enjoy from your diet, but this guide will help you identify foods which you may want to avoid or cut down on to see if it can reduce your joint pain. Read on for 7 foods to avoid when you have arthritis!
High-fat milk products
While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some of your favourite dairy products in moderation, full-fat dairy products with added sugar are inflammatory and can make arthritis symptoms worse.
This doesn’t mean you should avoid all dairy products (unless you’re lactose intolerant), because some milky foods - like kefir and yoghurt - contain probiotics which may help keep your gut healthy, lower inflammation and actually improve symptoms of arthritis. As with anything, listen to your body and see how you feel after eating dairy.
A little salt is essential for controlling blood pressure, nerve and muscle function, as well as promoting overall good health. Too much salt, however, can be harmful. Research suggests that too much salt can lead to inflammation and may increase the chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis, which is a chronic inflammatory disorder.
Don’t remove all salt from your diet, but try to reduce your consumption by using seasoning and herbs which do not contain sodium to enhance the flavour of your cooking.
Sugary food and drinks
Evidence suggests that consuming too much sugar can cause inflammation in the body. The added sugar in desserts doesn’t have any nutritional value. You are recommended to have just 9 teaspoons of sugar per day, which is much less than you probably think.
It’s no secret that processed foods like fast food and microwave meals aren’t healthy. Many of these contain preservatives, extra sugar, refined grains and other potentially inflammatory ingredients. Some studies suggest that a diet full of processed foods can make rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, and even heart disease more likely. This doesn’t mean you can never eat processed foods, but try - as much as possible - to build your diet around home-cooked meals, wholegrains, fruit and vegetables.
White rice and white bread have been stripped of most of their fibre and nutrients, which means they are simple carbohydrates and are more likely to increase inflammation and spike your blood sugar. You should mostly eat complex carbohydrates like brown rice, wholewheat grains and quinoa, which is high in protein.
Not all alcohol is bad for you. A glass of red wine is rich in antioxidants and contains a compound called resveratrol, which may have anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies have found less inflammation and better overall health in people who have a glass of wine a day. Drinking too much alcohol, however, can contribute to gout, osteoarthritis and general poor health. Additionally, your joints contain essential fluids like synovial fluid (crucial in carrying nutrients), so dehydration from alcohol can lead to these fluids being depleted and increasing the chance of joint pain.
Red & processed meat
Some studies suggest a link between red meat consumption and inflammation, which may make the symptoms of arthritis worse. A study of people with rheumatoid arthritis in 2017 found that red meat made their symptoms worse, while other studies have found that a plant-based diet can improve symptoms of arthritis, reduce inflammation and improve gut health. You don’t have to go full vegetarian if you don’t want to, but consider swapping some red meats for lean proteins instead. Things such as fish and chicken are much better for you. And you’d be amazed at how easy it is to cut back on meat entirely when you find something delicious like this tempeh, kale and rice bowl.
So what should you eat if you have arthritis?
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for your overall health. When combined with exercise, eating a balanced diet with wholegrains, lean proteins and healthy fats can also help you maintain a healthy weight - which is especially important if you have arthritis, because the more weight you have the more pressure you put on your joints. Try incorporating more oily fish, fruit, vegetables and whole foods into your diet.
You may have heard that vegetables and fruits in the nightshade family - i.e. tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and peppers - contain a chemical called solanine which can make arthritis pain worse. There isn’t much concrete evidence to support this, but if you personally find that eating these foods appears to have a negative impact on your health then you may want to cut down on them and see if that helps.
What foods do you feel exacerbate your arthritis symptoms? Let us know on Facebook.