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What Are the Foods to Avoid with Arthritis?

By Jami Yontz
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many foods to avoid with arthritis, including caffeine, sugar, carbonated beverages, and foods high in saturated fats. Certain foods should be avoided because they can complicate the symptoms of arthritis, causing inflammation of the joints and reduced calcium absorption. Other foods can cause a person to have an allergic reaction to certain nutrients in foods, which can cause pain and stiffness to occur in the person’s joints. Persons should consult a physician or dietician for information on foods to avoid with arthritis and the best arthritis pain management diet for his or her specific condition.

Arthritis is condition where the cartilage or area where two bones meet becomes inflamed, causing stiffness, swelling, pain, and discomfort to occur in the joints. The condition can be caused by the breakdown and deterioration of cartilage, which is a spongy tissue that allows joints to move smoothly and absorb pressure. It can also be caused by an autoimmune disease or infection. Reducing pain and increasing range of motion of the joint are general treatment options for sufferers of arthritis, but many people have found that a change in diet and the avoidance of certain foods can help to reduce the symptoms of the condition. A change in diet, along with exercise, lifestyle adjustments, and medications, can help greatly reduce the pain and stiffness caused by inflammation of the joints.

Sugar and caffeine are the main culprits for arthritis sufferers. Carbonated sodas on average contain 39 grams of sugar per one 12 ounce (340 grams) can of soda. Gluten and products containing refined flour may also cause inflammation and pain to occur. Some nutritionists believe that products containing solanine prevent the body from having an immune response to inflammation. The chemical solanine in found in potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and tobacco, and many arthritis sufferers find that a type of allergic reaction to these vegetables will cause his or her arthritis to flare up.

Other people suggest that fatty, red meats and dairy products, such as eggs and milk, are foods to avoid with arthritis. Acidic foods, such as oranges, grapefruit, and grapes should be avoided altogether or intake should be reduced. Vegetable oil and margarine should be used sparingly when preparing meals, and the amount of fried foods consumed should also be limited. Persons should work with a nutritionist or dietician to remove or reduce the amounts of these foods in his or her diet. Some people find that they can reintroduce certain foods back into their diet after avoiding the substance for a period of time.

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Discussion Comments

By LisaLou — On Jun 15, 2012

My sister found out she was allergic to gluten which was causing her to have arthritis symptoms. I don't understand how this happens to someone, as she has eaten bread and other wheat products her whole life.

At what point does someone become allergic to something like this? She has completely eliminated gluten from her diet and most of her arthritis symptoms went away.

Gluten is found in a lot of products, so the list of foods to avoid for arthritis for my sister was very long. These are foods she will probably have to avoid for the rest of her life. She has done a good job of finding good substitutes though and says the benefits are well worth it.

By John57 — On Jun 14, 2012

When I had my last physical I was complaining to my doctor about some general arthritis problems. The first thing she asked me was how many carbonated beverages I had in a day.

She told me the carbonation depletes the calcium in our bodies and can cause inflammation in our joints. I usually had at least one soda a day and on the weekends would have more than one.

It was hard for me to think about giving this up, but I figured it would be worth a try. I don't know how to avoid arthritis, but if I can decrease the amount of inflammation in my body, I shouldn't have as many symptoms.

By bagley79 — On Jun 13, 2012

I have the most trouble with arthritis in some of the small joints in my body like my hands and fingers. On other days I feel like I ache all over and all of my joints feel sore.

I have found that exercising is one of the best things I can do for my arthritis. Once I am limbered up and done exercising, my joints feel so much better than they did before I started.

As far as arthritis and foods to avoid, I have found that by eliminating white flour and sugar from my diet I feel much better. After giving this up for a few weeks, I couldn't believe how much better I felt.

If I slip up and eat junk food that has white flour and sugar, I will wake up the next day with sore joints.

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