Have Arthritis? 9 Inflammatory Food Ingredients to Avoid!

Would you be surprised to learn that more than 52 million Americans are living with some form of arthritis? An estimated 1 in 2 people will develop symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee by the time they reach 85. In short, arthritis is more common than you realize and something you should be aware of.

Woman's knee hampered by osteoarthritis symptoms

Arthritis is not just an old person’s disease.

This is why we celebrate Arthritis Awareness Month every May. One of the most important things to understand when it comes to arthritis is how much what you eat affects your condition. Studies have shown that many foods can increase bodily inflammation and experts suggest that you limit or remove these items from your regular diet.

1) Sugar

Are you a big fan of sweets and desserts? Many of us are, but the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition strongly warns against the consumption of sugar. Processed sugars actually trigger the release of cytokines– chemical messengers that increase inflammation in the body. Look out for words ending in “ose” on the ingredient labels. If it contains a lot of sucrose or fructose, then you might want to avoid them.

(Are you living with rheumatoid arthritis? You could qualify for an RA clinical trial in Birmingham.)

2) Saturated Fats

Several high profile clinical trials have shown that saturated fats will trigger adipose– fatty tissue inflammation. This not only exacerbates inflammation for osteoarthritis and psoriatic arthritis, but it is also a risk factor for heart disease. For the average American, cutting back on cheese could significantly reduce their intake of saturated fat. Additional food items to be wary of include:

  • Grain-based desserts
  • Meat products (especially red meat)
  • Pasta dishes
  • Full-fat dairy products

3) Trans Fats

Health nuts have been avoiding trans fats since the early 1990s and for good reason. They’re found in most fast food products and can really play havoc on those affected joints. Check out the ingredient labels during your next grocery store trip and be sure to avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils. Here are some common food items containing trans fats:

  • Fried foods
  • Processed snack items
  • Cookies
  • Frozen breakfast products
  • Donuts
  • Stick margarines (most of them)
  • Crackers


These oils are a rich source of  omega 6

Too much Omega 6 could lead to problems in your joints.

4) Omega 6 Fatty Acids

If you’re sitting there saying “WHAT??” it’s probably because you’re thinking about omega 3 fatty acids. omega 3 has proven beneficial for arthritis, but omega 6 can trigger the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body. Omega 6 is still an essential fatty acid that can be found in oils made from:

  • Sunflower
  • Corn
  • Safflower
  • Soy
  • Grapeseed
  • Peanut
  • Vegetable

(Omega 6 can also be found in mayonnaise and salad dressings.)

5) Refined Carbohydrates

New research actually suggests that the leading culprit behind obesity and many other chronic indications could be processed carbohydrates (as opposed to fats). These types of foods rank high on the glycemic index and trigger the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) products that in turn produce more inflammation. Common examples of refined carbohydrates include:

  • White rice
  • Rolls, breads and other flour-based products
  • White potatoes (includes french fries and mashed potatoes)
  • Many popular cereal brands

6) MSG

Ever heard of Mono-sodium glutamate (or more simply MSG)? This is a flavor additive that is found in many popular Asian foods like soy sauce. However, you’re just as likely to find MSG in things like:

  • Fast food
  • Soup mixes and prepared soups
  • Salad dressings
  • Deli meats

MSG has been linked to chronic inflammation in arthritis patients and can even damage your liver permanently.

7) Gluten and Casein

Luckily, there are now an ever growing range of options available for people with a gluten allergy. It’s a good thing, because it can quickly exacerbate your worst symptoms. If you also live with an inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis, things like gluten and casein allergies are quite common.

Gluten can be found in any foods made from these grains:

  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Wheat

Casein can be found in any whey protein food products.

8) Aspartame

OA and RA patients trying to avoid sugar should be wary of food items containing aspartame. This artificial sweetener acts as a neurotoxin and can be found in many popular products, such as Diet Coke and more than 4,000 other items. It can trigger an immune response that will lead to additional inflammation.

OA patient orders a Diet Coke during dinner

Diet Coke is one of over 4,000 products containing Aspartame.

9) Alcohol

A disease like rheumatoid arthritis not only attacks the joints– it can affect vital organs like the liver. Gout flare-ups can be triggered by drinking too much beer. If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, then it’s in your best interest to limit or avoid alcohol consumption.

Managing a condition like arthritis is no easy task, but it can be done. Cut back on these types of inflammatory foods and make sure that you eat plenty of lean meats, fruits and veggies. You’ll be surprised by the difference this can make in your symptoms. Be sure to check back in a week for our next post. We’ll be looking at some of the best foods to include in your arthritis-friendly diet plan.



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