Avoid These Foods If You Have Arthritis


Arthritis is a group of inflammatory conditions that cause pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting around 30 million Americans. It indicates a slow, gradual deterioration of the cartilage that protects and cushions the ends of your bones.

Rheumatoid arthritis is less common but still affects roughly 1% of people. It can manifest at any age, involving the body’s immune system attacking its joints.

Genetics plays a significant role in who gets arthritis and when there are lifestyle factors that can also increase – or reduce – your risk.

Foods That Worsen Inflammation and Arthritis

Both types of arthritis are characterized by inflammation, so eating foods known to exacerbate inflammation is not a good idea.

If you’re living with arthritis, you may find that some foods aggravate your condition and make your pain worse.

Foods that have been linked to increased inflammation and arthritis symptoms include:

  • red meat
  • processed meats
  • dairy products
  • eggs
  • fried foods
  • fattening foods
  • refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, pastries)
  • sugar-sweetened beverages (soda, juice)
  • excess salt

Several studies have demonstrated that reducing or excluding animal products from a patient’s diet can significantly improve arthritis symptoms. As our digestive system breaks down meat, dairy, and eggs, pro-inflammatory metabolites are produced that can aggravate our joints.

Obesity is also closely associated with worsened arthritis symptoms. Fat tissues secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines that can trigger and worsen inflammation. Excessive body weight can reduce the effect of medication, reduce the likelihood of disease remission, put extra stress on weight-bearing joints, worsen health outcomes, and increase the overall risk of disease mortality.

By avoiding foods that worsen inflammation and stimulate weight gain, you can help reduce your arthritis symptoms.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Strategies

In addition to avoiding problem foods, it’s also essential to focus on eating healthful foods that can improve your symptoms, general health, and quality of life.

Researchers have designed an anti-inflammatory diet plan that has shown to be feasible and effective for helping people with arthritis. The ITIS diet recommends:

  • Eat nuts and seeds daily for increased intake of monounsaturated fatty acids.
  • Eat vegetables daily for increased intake of fiber and antioxidants.
  • Eat yogurt and miso daily for probiotics.
  • Eliminate pre-cooked meals to reduce salt intake
  • Avoid tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes because nightshade plants contain glycoalkaloids which can affect intestinal permeability.
  • Avoid red meat and processed meats to decrease pro-inflammatory fatty acids.
  • Eat more fatty fish for increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Replace refined wheat products (bread, etc.) with whole grains to reduce gluten consumption
  • Replace coffee with green tea for increased intake of antioxidants
  • Replace dairy milk with plant-based milks to improve digestion

Improving your diet is one of the most important things you can do for your arthritis. 

Medications are also available to help your symptoms, but you shouldn’t overlook your diet’s influence on your condition.