What Foods to Avoid for Arthritis
Changing one’s diet can help relieve arthritis symptoms for some people. Avoiding foods high in inflammation, such as saturated fat and sugar, maybe a part of this strategy. Avoiding foods high in purines may also be necessary. Here are five foods to avoid for arthritis you may want to steer clear of, as well as some that may be helpful.
Foods to Avoid: What You Need To Know
Inflammation in the body is exacerbated by a variety of fats. People with arthritis are advised by the Arthritis Foundation to:
- Omega 6 fatty acids: Corn, safflower, and sunflower oils, as well as vegetable oil, fall into this category. When consumed in reasonable amounts, omega 6 fatty acids aren’t harmful. However, the average American consumes far too much of them.
- Saturated fat: This type of fat is found in foods like meat, butter, and cheese. A person’s daily calorie intake should contain no more than 10% saturated fat.
- Trans fats: As a result of raising inflammation and lowering “good” cholesterol, trans fats are harmful to human health. In recent years, manufacturers have begun to remove trans fats from most pre-packaged foods, but check the nutrition facts panel to be sure.
A study published in the journal Nutrients found that regular soda drinkers were more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. Harvard Health warns that excessive sugar consumption also raises the risk of heart disease death. Obesity, inflammation, and other long-term health problems are all possible outcomes of this practice.
Sugars are commonly added to many products. Breakfast cereals, sauces, and soft drinks all contain hidden sugars that should never be overlooked.
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs)
Age-related epidermal growth factor (AGE) is an inflammatory compound that can build up in the body’s tissues. Patients with diseases like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis often have elevated AGE levels, according to an article in Patient Education. It’s possible that cutting down on AGEs could help alleviate inflammation.
Both fat and sugar raise the body’s AGE levels. High-temperature cooking and some food processing methods also raise the AGE levels in food.
Solanine is a compound found in nightshades, a group of vegetables. Despite the lack of conclusive evidence, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine suggests that removing nightshades from the diet can help alleviate symptoms in some people with rheumatological conditions.
Nightshade vegetables include:
- bell peppers
- chili peppers
People with arthritis who are concerned that nightshades may aggravate their symptoms should cut them out of their diet for a couple of weeks and then reintroduce them one at a time, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Individuals may benefit from keeping a food diary in order to better understand how certain foods affect them.
Foods high in purines
A doctor may recommend a low-purine diet and medication for people with gout.
Uric acid is formed when the body breaks down purines, which are found in many foods. Gout attacks can be caused by an excess of uric acid in the bloodstream. The following foods, according to the CDC, have high purine content:
- red meat
- organ meat, such as liver
- beer and other alcohol
- cured meats such as ham, bacon, or lunch meats
- some seafood, such as mussels and scallops
There is some evidence that purine-rich vegetables like cauliflower, mushrooms, and beans are not linked to an increased risk of gout.
Types of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions that cause joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Others include:
- rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- psoriatic arthritis
- juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- ankylosing spondylitis
The CDC estimates that 23% of adults in the United States suffer from some degree of arthritis.
Can diet help arthritis?
What a person eats can help:
- lower the body’s inflammatory response
- a healthy weight is one that is maintained over time.
- promote the healing and health of tissues
- trigger foods are avoided by a person
Inflammation is usually beneficial to the body because it helps fight bacteria and promotes wound healing. However, if inflammation continues for a long time, it can lead to long-term symptoms.
Inflammation levels can be affected by what a person eats. Inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods can be found in a variety of foods.
Many studies show that anti-inflammatory foods can reduce arthritis pain and progression, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Inflammation levels are also affected by a person’s weight. Cytokines, immune cells that increase inflammation, are produced by fat cells. Diet can be used to maintain a healthy weight, which may reduce joint pressure and inflammation.
Finally, certain foods can act as arthritis triggers in some people. Foods high in purines, for example, can exacerbate a gout attack.
Foods to eat
Inflammation is reduced by consuming these fats, according to the Arthritis Foundation:
- Unsaturated fats: Among these oils are olive, avocado, and nut/seed oils. An ingredient in extra virgin olive oil called oleocanthal is similar to ibuprofen in terms of its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish like salmon, sardines, and herring. Two servings of oily fish a week are recommended by arthritis researchers. Fish oil supplements can also be taken as an alternative. Fishery oil has been shown to reduce joint stiffness, swelling, and pain by taking 600mg–1000mg daily. Walnuts and walnut oil are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids for vegetarians and vegans.
It’s possible that coconut oil can help ease the symptoms of arthritis. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties, despite the fact that it is saturated fat. To confirm this benefit in humans, researchers need to conduct more controlled studies.
Fruits and vegetables
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says that some studies show that RA symptoms can be reduced by a plant-based diet. For arthritis patients, the Arthritis Foundation recommends that they eat the following fruits and vegetables:
- Onions, garlic, and leeks: These all contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory compound. Sulfur compounds found in these foods may also help protect cartilage from wear and tear.
- Sweet potatoes, squash, and carrots: Carotenoids, which are found in orange and red vegetables, are antioxidants. However, there is some evidence that carotenoids may reduce the risk of developing RA.
- Green leafy vegetables: Calcium, which is essential for bone health, can be found in vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, Swiss chard, and spinach. Antioxidants are also present in these foods.
- Citrus fruits, strawberries, and kiwi fruit: According to the NIH fact sheet on vitamin C, consuming foods high in vitamin C helps to protect bone and cartilage from degeneration.
Anti-inflammatory diets can help people avoid the symptoms of inflammation and stay healthy. The Mediterranean diet is a well-researched anti-inflammatory diet.
Dietary components of the Mediterranean diet include:
- olive oil
- whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
- lean meats, eggs, and fish
- nuts and seeds
Moderate amounts of dairy products are also included in the diet, but sugar, alcohol, and red meat are restricted.
Osteoarthritis sufferers who eat a Mediterranean diet are less likely to suffer from pain and inflammation, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Because the Mediterranean diet is primarily plant-based, some people can lose weight without counting calories or limiting portion sizes.
Men who eat a Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to a large population-based 2018 study. RA sufferers may benefit from the antioxidants found in Mediterranean diets, according to another study.
Other tips for managing arthritis
Arthritis sufferers may also benefit from the following advice:
- Low impact exercise: This type of exercise is good for the joints because it doesn’t strain them. Walking, swimming, and cycling are all recommended by the CDC.
- Cooking methods: Cooking techniques vary in their ability to preserve or release nutrients from food. Nutrition can be more easily absorbed by steaming or lightly frying in a healthy oil rather than deep-frying. Short-term microwaving in very little liquid preserves the nutrients as well.
- Sun exposure: Arthritis Foundation: Vitamin D is essential for bone health because it aids in the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D can be found in a variety of foods, but the best way to get enough is to spend some time in the sun.
Sugar and saturated fat, which are known to cause inflammation, can exacerbate arthritis symptoms. Foods high in purines and nightshades may also be a trigger for arthritis flare-ups for some people.
The best way to figure out which foods set off an attack is to eliminate them from the diet for a couple of weeks before gradually reintroducing them.
Arthritis sufferers may benefit from eating anti-inflammatory foods. Incorporating these foods into your diet can help reduce inflammation in the body. A registered dietitian may be able to help an arthritic person find the best eating plan.
Joanna is a busy executive assistant and mother of two. She loves to read but finds that she doesn’t have enough time to do so as often as she would like. Joanna is a novice writer and is working on improving her skills. She also enjoys learning about healthy living and tries to incorporate new information into her own life whenever possible.