Foods Arthritis Sufferers Should Avoid

Arthritis stems from the degeneration and overuse of joints. It mostly affects the knees, fingers, and hips. Individuals with this condition experience joint pain and stiffness that often gets progressively worse, especially as they age. There are many types of arthritis out there, though the two most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Although arthritis is not a pleasant condition, however, there is arthritis treatment out there. Many patients take anti-inflammatory medication to achieve arthritis relief. There are also topical ointments for arthritis out there. Some individuals even engage in pickleball for arthritis, along with other forms of physical activity. Of course, it is vital to note that individuals with arthritis must pay attention to their diet. Certain foods can have a significant and negative effect on their symptoms.

Fried Food

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Fried food contains a significant amount of saturated fat, which is a major reason it is unhealthy. Fried food is also highly processed and contains lots of artificial preservatives and salt. All of these increase the severity of arthritis! Individuals who consume a significant amount of fried food are also at an increased risk of obesity. This is vital in connection to arthritis because obesity increases the pressure on joints, particularly the knees and hips. This increased pressure can make the degeneration of the joints much faster! Thus, individuals who have arthritis should avoid eating lots of fried food.

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Processed Sugars

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Processed sugar is found in candy, cereal, doughnuts, soda, and even condiments such as ketchup. Eating too much sugar, particularly processed sugar, causes the body to create uneven insulin levels, which trigger immune cells that cause swelling. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that showed processed sugar increased the symptoms of 'pain, overheating, redness, and swelling' in arthritis patients. Sugars such as these will use the body's vitamins to complete the digestion process. The lack of these vitamins can worsen arthritis symptoms.

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Dairy

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Although dairy products are known to aid with increasing bone strength and durability, some arthritis patients will see adverse effects after consuming certain dairy products. Some studies indicate that proteins within dairy cause tissue irritation within the joints of individuals with arthritis. If patients with this condition notice joint irritation after consuming dairy, it may be worthwhile for them to look for alternatives. Many individuals with arthritis have turned to plant-based foods for their calcium and protein, and have experienced positive results. Some find milk alternatives helpful, while others speak with a physician about appropriate calcium supplements.

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Alcohol

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Alcohol contains uric acid. Uric acid causes a build-up of crystals that will gather within an individual's joints. It can trigger inflammation and pain. Alcohol can also have a negative reaction with some arthritis medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen. It can also cause stomach bleeding. Individuals who take methotrexate of leflunomide increase their chances of liver damage if they consume too much alcohol while taking these medications. Gout, a form of arthritis in the fingers and toes, has been linked to the prolonged and excessive consumption of alcohol.

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Tobacco

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Although tobacco is not a food product, it can be easily ingested and is very common. Studies have shown that smoking can increase the severity of an individual's arthritis. Tobacco can also negatively affect the arthritis medication patients take. This effect makes it harder for the medication to control the inflammation and pain associated with the condition. In particular, rheumatoid arthritis is affected negatively by smoking tobacco products. Ingesting anything with tobacco will increase the likelihood of a symptom flareup, including pain and swelling.

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Salt

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Arthritis medication can sometimes cause the body to retain more sodium. Retaining excessive sodium can have a negative effect on the inflammation associated with arthritis. Salt consumption leads to the bloodstream absorbing more water than normal, almost swelling the bloodstream itself. Due to the expansion of blood vessels, this will cause increased inflammation in some joints. Nearly all canned, frozen, and convenience foods contain a lot more salt than even healthy individuals should be consuming. This means they are crucial for arthritis patients to avoid. Many individuals with arthritis experience increased inflammation and more severe symptoms if they consume a diet high in salt.

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Oil

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It is essential to note that not all oils are bad. Many of them harness essential acids and fats that actually help with the symptoms of arthritis. However, it is equally important to know that some oils can be harmful. Thus, individuals with arthritis should pay more attention to what they are consuming. Specifically, arthritis patients should avoid corn, sunflower, soy, and vegetable oil due to their high saturated fat content. American diets are very high in this type of oil, which can trigger the production of chemicals that increase swelling and inflammation. Omega-6 oils such as the ones mentioned are not to be avoided altogether. However, reduced intake may have a positive effect on inflammation. Omega-3 oils, such as the ones found in canola, flaxseed, and grape oil, can be used as a substitute.

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Refined Carbohydrates

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Refined carbohydrates can make an individual's arthritis worse by increasing overall inflammation. These foods have a high glycemic index and cause the body to produce excess advanced glycation end products, otherwise known as AGE products. These substances are what contribute to inflammation throughout the body. Some research also indicates that refined carbohydrates could be even more responsible for chronic conditions and obesity than fatty foods. Anything baked with white flour contains refined carbohydrates. This includes white rice, crackers, white bread, rolls, and the majority of baked goods. White flour is the grain that has had most of the nutrients removed during its processing.

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Pizza

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Researchers have found saturated fats can increase the overall levels of inflammation in the body, which can lead to arthritis flareups or make existing flareups worse. Most types of pizza are a high source of saturated fat, and 4.5 grams of every one hundred grams of pizza can be made up of saturated fats. For comparison, regular cheese has about 0.2 grams of saturated fats for every twenty-one grams. This means there is only about one gram of saturated fat in every one hundred grams of regular cheese. Nutritionists and dietitians have recommended that individuals with arthritis not get over ten percent of their daily calories from saturated fats. Cutting pizza out can be very helpful in achieving this.

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Food With MSG

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The research regarding monosodium glutamate (MSG) is hotly debated. Some studies have shown that MSG has no adverse health effects. In contrast, others indicate the substance can cause inflammation flareups and overall pain, which can worsen arthritis. MSG is found naturally in foods like tomatoes and mushrooms, and natural sources (in moderation) are typically fine. However, when it is added artificially to foods, MSG tends to be highly processed. Many frozen dinners and canned foods have high levels of artificial monosodium glutamate. If individuals are trying to cut MSG out of their diet, they should look for foods made with organic ingredients. Checking ingredients lists for monosodium glutamate is also a smart idea. Patients can experiment by monitoring how they feel with MSG-containing foods versus without them to see if cutting it out is helpful.

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Omega-6 Fatty Acids

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Omega-6 fatty acids are an essential part of a healthy diet. Individuals absolutely should not cut them out of their diet completely. These acids are necessary to allow the cells and body to develop and grow normally. In an ideal diet, an individual's omega-3s and omega-6 acids will be balanced. However, individuals, particularly those with arthritis, should avoid having too much omega-6 in their diet. Excessively consuming this fatty acid can cause the body to produce chemicals that increase inflammation. Many foods contain omega-6 fatty acids, such as many salad dressings, mayonnaise, vegetable oil, peanut oil, soy-based oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and corn oil. Arthritis patients should try not to consume any of these foods or oils in excess.

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Aspartame

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Aspartame is an artificially-produced sweetener that can negatively affect an individual's pain perception. In the past, many rumors have circulated about the effects of aspartame on the body. Many of them, like the rumor aspartame causes epilepsy, are not based on any scientific fact. However, there is research supporting the idea that aspartame may increase pain perception by triggering neurons. This idea has been associated with arthritis. Many diet sodas use aspartame as a no-calorie sweetener. It can sometimes appear in low-calorie or no-calorie mints and gum. Some sugar-free gums use aspartame, but a range of less potentially-harmful low-calorie sweeteners can also be used.

J. Findlay