✓ Evidence Based

9 Foods to Avoid with Arthritis

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States. Believe it or not, nearly half of all adults will have arthritis by age 65!

Arthritis is a general term for more than 100 different conditions involving inflammation of one or more joints.

Foods to avoid with Arthritis

If you have arthritis, it’s important to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables along with other foods known to reduce inflammation, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon. There are, however, many foods that you must avoid to prevent the inflammation of the joints from getting worse.

1. Gluten

If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, then you must have gone through a lot of changes in your diet. This is because most doctors would advise avoiding certain foods which might aggravate the symptoms of arthritis.

One such food that you must avoid is gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is often used as an additive in many processed foods and can be found even in some medications.

Gluten can be extremely harmful to people who have rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, several studies suggest that people with this condition should completely avoid gluten from their diet.

The reason behind this is that gluten may cause inflammation in the body and trigger the immune system to react against other organs as well. This reaction can further aggravate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and increase joint pain a lot!

2. Red meat and processed meat

Even though red meat doesn’t seem like it would be bad for your arthritis, it’s actually a very high source of saturated fats. Saturated fats increase cholesterol levels in the blood and can eventually lead to heart disease, which is another condition that can make arthritis worse. Red meat also contains protein-like substances called carnitine that can cause inflammation in joints if consumed in excess amounts.

Processed meats include bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and deli meats. They are basically anything that comes from an animal that has been cured or smoked before it’s sold at grocery stores. These products typically contain nitrites, which are preservatives used to delay spoilage and discoloration of food products. Nitrites have been linked with cancer because they produce carcinogenic compounds when heated.

Studies have shown that eating red meat increases your risk of developing osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. Red meat also contains high levels of iron which can exacerbate existing joint problems by increasing free iron levels in the body.

3. Added sugars

Sugar is one of the most dangerous food groups for people with arthritis. While it may seem like the perfect way to boost your energy and get through the day, sugar can actually have a negative impact on your health.

Sugar has been shown to increase inflammation, which can make your symptoms worse. It also increases insulin resistance, which can cause joint damage if left untreated. Sugar also causes blood sugar fluctuations that can lead to fatigue, mood swings, and headaches which are all symptoms of arthritis!

According to the Arthritis Foundation, 25 percent of people with arthritis report having a history of high blood pressure or diabetes. These conditions are linked to chronic inflammation. The same is true for heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

One of the easiest ways to cut down on added sugars is to read nutrition labels. The Nutrition Facts table on food packages lists the total grams of sugar per serving. If a food has more than 20 grams of sugar per serving or more than 5 grams of added sugar per serving, then you may want to think twice before eating it!

4. Alcohol

People with arthritis often drink alcohol to relieve pain and reduce stress. But this is a dangerous combination. Alcohol can interfere with the action of some medications for arthritis and cause your symptoms to get worse.

Alcohol is a diuretic and can cause dehydration, which in turn can increase pain and stiffness in joints. It also increases inflammation in the body, which can make the condition worse. There’s even evidence that alcohol can actually cause more damage to joints than it prevents.

If you have arthritis, avoid drinking alcohol or limit how much you drink. If you do drink, do so only in moderation. One drink for women and two drinks for men should be the daily amount of alcohol consumed. And only if it’s part of a meal!

Also, have a glass of water with each alcoholic beverage. This will help slow down how quickly your body absorbs alcohol and keep you hydrated so that you don’t become dehydrated from drinking too much.

5. Highly processed foods

Highly processed foods such as ready meals, instant noodles or canned soup are not good for your health in general. They can be particularly bad if you have arthritis because they contain lots of additives that can irritate the lining of your digestive tract.

Foods that are highly processed, like chips and cookies, are often high in sodium, which can cause swelling and inflammation. But it’s not just the amount of sodium you eat, it’s also how quickly your body absorbs it. When you consume foods that are high in sodium, they tend to raise blood pressure. And if your blood pressure is up, then there’s more fluid that needs to be pushed through the blood vessels. That extra fluid can lead to joint pain and stiffness.

6. Foods high in salt

Salt is a mineral that is essential to our health. It helps regulate blood volume and blood pressure, it regulates the body’s acid-base balance and allows muscles to contract. It also helps with digestion, absorption of nutrients, and water balance.

However, too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which may increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. High sodium intake is also associated with osteoporosis because it increases urinary calcium excretion, which leads to loss of bone density.

7. Certain vegetable oils

Vegetable oils are a popular source of fat and calories in our diet. They’re used in cooking, baking, and frying.

Vegetable oils are high in saturated fat and may raise your bad cholesterol levels. This might increase inflammation in your body, which may worsen arthritis symptoms. The top two vegetable oils that should be avoided if you have arthritis are corn oil and safflower oil.

Corn oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can promote inflammation in your body. Avoid all corn products unless they’re labeled organic, as they often contain genetically modified organisms, which may trigger an immune response that causes inflammation.

Safflower oil is another omega-6 fatty acid-rich vegetable oil that should be avoided. Safflower oil can raise blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It’s also high in linoleic acid which is an essential fatty acid that can irritate the gastrointestinal tract when taken by mouth or through the skin.

8. Foods high in AGEs

Advanced glycation end products or AGEs are a type of molecule that forms when sugar reacts with protein. AGEs can be formed in a number of ways, but the most common way is through cooking. The formation of AGEs is promoted by cooking at high temperatures, especially frying or grilling. They are also found in some foods such as beef and dairy products.

AGEs have been linked to many health problems like arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and kidney failure but there is little evidence that they cause these conditions by themselves. There are few studies on how AGEs affect arthritis symptoms and joint pain, so it’s difficult to know if avoiding foods high in AGEs would help ease these symptoms.

9. Dairy

While it’s true that some people with arthritis can tolerate dairy products in moderation, many others find that they cause symptoms of inflammation and pain.

If you have an inflammatory form of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis, it’s best to avoid all dairy products. These types of arthritis are caused by an immune system that mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in the joints. Eating dairy products causes your body to produce more antibodies that attack healthy joint tissue as well as invade pathogens. This can aggravate your joints and make them feel worse than they would otherwise.

If you have osteoarthritis, which is the most common type of arthritis, there is no evidence that avoiding dairy will help reduce inflammation or relieve pain. However, some people do report relief from symptoms when they eliminate all animal proteins from their diet including meat and fish but not eggs or beans.

4 ways you can eat healthier if you have arthritis

If you have arthritis, you might think that the only way to eat well is to follow a strict diet. But in fact, there are many healthy ways to eat if you have arthritis. Eating a slightly healthier diet can actually help reduce inflammation. Here are some tips for making better food choices:

1. Cook with olive oil instead of butter or margarine. Butter and margarine contain trans fats that can increase inflammation in people with arthritis. Olive oil contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that help reduce inflammation in joints and lubricate them so they move more easily without pain or stiffness.

2. Choose fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, or mackerel at least twice a week for their anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3s have also been shown to help relieve joint pain in people who don’t have rheumatoid arthritis.

3. Use a steamer instead of boiling vegetables. Boiling water adds heat to your home and increases stress on your joints. Steaming vegetables keep heat out of your home, making it easier for you to cook without straining your joints too much. You can also use a pressure cooker for many foods like beans or rice!

4. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D from foods like milk or fortified foods such as orange juice or cereal bars. If you don’t get enough vitamin D from these sources, talk to your doctor about taking supplements daily during autumn through spring when sunlight isn’t strong enough.


There is no doubt our lives are affected when we get arthritis. We can find that we miss out on getting away to the shop or being able to do some of the usual things we like such as gardening or actively playing sports. So it’s good news that there are some diet tips you can follow to help reduce pain, stiffness, and inflammation associated with the condition.

You always have to be careful about what you eat. It will just take some time to get used to new diet changes when you are diagnosed!