People With Arthritis Should Never Eat These Foods

It’s estimated that around three million new people get diagnosed with arthritis every year with symptoms including pain, swelling, stiffness, and steady loss of movement. This is a very common disability that’s usually treated with inflammation and pain-reducing medication, but having a certain kind of diet also reduces the risks.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, people with arthritis should be on an anti-inflammatory diet avoiding things such as fried and processed foods, dairy, and sugar. Keep in mind that avoiding these foods won’t necessarily cure arthritis pain.

Try To Live Gluten-Free

a baker holding five things of dough about to go in the oven
Jens Büttner/picture alliance via Getty Images
Jens Büttner/picture alliance via Getty Images

In recent years it’s been more common to see both grocery stores and menus that include gluten-free options. According to Harvard Health Publishing, gluten is a protein most commonly found in wheat, rye, and barley that can cause damage to the lining of the small intestine.

The main group of people affected by gluten are those with celiac disease, but arthritis patients with a gluten intolerance may get a lot of inflammation by consuming it. Health expert and nutritionist Joy Bauer also notes that celiac and arthritis are autoimmune diseases that often come together.

It’s Time To Take Candy Out Of Your Diet

a close-up of a bowl of skittles
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Candy is always something that should be consumed in moderation because it tends to have a high sugar content. When blood sugar levels start to increase it triggers an inflammatory response in the body called cytokines. This causes arthritis symptoms to become stronger.

Those who long for a sweet snack should skip the candy and try healthier options such as fresh fruit, nuts, or sunflower seeds. One of the worst kinds of sugars to eat are processed ones, which are mainly found in candy.

Put Down The Bacon

close-up of pieces of bacon
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Bacon is one of the trendiest foods in the United States, with people adding it to their salads, donuts, burgers, and more. It is also loaded with saturated fat that increases cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Health.com notes there was a 2015 study where bacon caused cancer due to its carcinogens.

The amount bacon can disrupt the lives of people with arthritis depends on its fat content and how high of a temperature it was cooked. Bacon causes high levels of inflammation when it contains advanced glycation end products (AGEs).

Hands Off The Tomatoes

a close-up of someone squeezing small tomatoes
Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

Although tomatoes are a fruit, they can still have detrimental effects on those with arthritis. The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine stated that tomatoes are part of the nightshade plant group. Nightshades can have harmful substances that contribute to increasing inflammation.

While tomatoes are used in countless dishes, people with arthritis need to figure out a substitute that won’t worsen their symptoms. Other fruits and vegetables that would be more acceptable include apples, pears, green beans, and spinach.

Butter Is Definitely Not An Option

butter on a frying pan
Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Arthritis Research Campaign agrees that those who are overweight or obese are more prone to develop tougher cases of arthritis. Butter is one of the main foods that can lead to a bunch of health issues because it’s rich in calories, high in fat, and can cause swelling in the body.

The same goes for butter substitutes such as margarine. These are made from trans fats and have been linked to inflammation, heart disease, and cancer. On the bright side, there are other things that can be used in place of butter including apple sauce and mashed bananas.

Keep Those Pizza Slices To A Minimum

someone putting toppings on a pizza
Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Pizza is a staple in the American diet, but it, unfortunately, has the ability to cause many health problems. The combination of the cheese, tomato sauce, bread, and toppings would make someone with arthritis get unprecedented levels of inflammation.

One of the main ways it triggers the symptoms is the high amount of saturated fat. According to the health site Eat This, Not That!, pizza and other saturated fats cause the body’s fat tissues to become inflamed. This can also lead to heart disease.

You Better Ditch The French Fries

french fries being scooped out of a food truck
Philippe Huguen/AFP via Getty Images
Philippe Huguen/AFP via Getty Images

French fries don’t really have nutritional value for anyone, but should specifically be avoided with arthritis sufferers. When the Mount Sinai School of Medicine did a study on fried food they found that the less amount of it people ate contributed to “reduced inflammation and actually helped restore the body’s natural defenses.”

Fried foods also have advanced glycation end products, which are harmful toxins that can damage certain proteins in the body. The salt added to french fries may result in the inflammation of joints as well.

Slow Down On The Coffee

a cup of coffee getting filled by a coffee maker
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A study from the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health suggests that drinking coffee can lead people to develop arthritis. People who drank at least four cups of coffee daily were twice as likely to develop arthritis than those who drank less or not at all.

Although there are some health benefits to drinking coffee it should always be done in moderation. Every situation is different. For example, people with rheumatoid arthritis should definitely avoid it, but those with psoriatic arthritis may not be affected.

How To Eat Eggs If You Have Arthritis

a raw egg in a frying pan
Anjelika Gretskaia/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Anjelika Gretskaia/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

While eggs are a great source of protein they also contain certain things that worsen arthritis symptoms. Eggs are known for being high in cholesterol and the yolks are filled with saturated fat. Also, the yolks have arachidonic acid, which produces prostaglandin and causes inflammation.

Since it’s mainly the yolk that causes the health issues people with arthritis should be fine if they stick to egg whites only. Make sure to avoid cooking them in butter or adding salt, cheese, or meat.

White Rice Has No Nutritional Value

white rice in a yellow and pink ceramic bowl
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Nutritionist Joy Bauer claims that refined carbohydrates are one of the worst things someone with arthritis can eat. These are made by removing the bran and germ from whole grains, which are the two parts that contain the most nutrients.

Arthritis gets worse when refined carbs with pro-inflammatory compounds such as cytokines enter the body. White rice can also spike blood sugar because it lacks nutrients. It’s advised for people to switch to whole-grain options in all of their foods including cereal, bread, and pasta.

Arthritis Patients Need To Steer Clear From Ice Cream

someone holding a vanilla ice cream cone
Christoph Soeder/picture alliance via Getty Images
Christoph Soeder/picture alliance via Getty Images

Ice cream may be a delicious treat enjoyed by people all over the world, but it’s a nightmare for those with arthritis. It contains large amounts of saturated fat and added sugars, which is a one-way ticket to inflammation.

Many arthritis patients are eliminating dairy products after the Dietary Inflammatory Index claimed that saturated fat is linked to inflammation. Luckily, those with a sweet tooth can opt for the numerous dairy-free ice cream options made with products such as coconut milk or soy.

What’s Hidden Inside Frozen Meals

a marie callender's fettuccine with chicken and broccoli frozen meal
Julie Thurston/Getty Images
Julie Thurston/Getty Images

Many frozen foods contain excessive salt and preservatives that are added to make the meal last longer. Eating large amounts of these things can cause inflammation of the joints. Also, a decent number of frozen meals are loaded with sodium. People with arthritis need to limit their sodium intake.

When those with arthritis are using corticosteroids for treatment it allows their body to hold onto more sodium than normal. According to Amy Gorin Nutrition, it’s recommended to consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.

White Flour Is Highly Inflammatory

woman making a pie from flaky pastry dough
Anjelika Gretskaia/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Anjelika Gretskaia/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A study in The Journal of Nutrition found that white flour is one of the main causes of inflammation. They discovered that “white flour accentuates the omega-3 deficiencies that powerfully impact joint pain by suppressing prostaglandin E3.” When your body isn’t receiving enough omega-3s it is more prone to developing diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Some of the most common foods that contain white flour include white rice, potatoes, bread, and crackers. Those who don’t want to give up these foods can look up ways to cook them that increases resistant starch.

If Your Fruit Is In Syrup We Have Bad News For You

canned pineapple pieces in syrup
Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Fruit is usually a healthy alternative to a lot of other snacks out there, but there’s one kind that people with arthritis should avoid. The fruit that comes packaged in heavy syrup is one of the worst things for someone with arthritis to eat because it triggers the release of proteins called cytokines.

Cytokines are most associated with the body’s increase in inflammation. This doesn’t mean that all fruit is bad to eat. Dried and canned fruit without syrup or just regular fruit are fine for people with arthritis to enjoy.

Milk Is Not Meant For Adults

salma hayek holding a glass of milk
Michael Tran/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Michael Tran/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Many nutritionists agree that around 60 percent of the population has a hard time digesting milk after childhood. The proteins found in milk are one of the leading causes of inflammation in the body. Luckily, not all dairy products are going to increase inflammation.

It’s best to eat dairy products with probiotics including unsweetened Greek yogurt and fermented milk with yeast and bacteria. Milk is mainly meant to be ingested by babies and small children who are still growing, so when adults with arthritis drink it they can experience a great deal of discomfort.

There’s A Secret Molecule Inside Sausage

sausage on display at a butcher shop
Oliver Berg/picture alliance via Getty Images
Oliver Berg/picture alliance via Getty Images

Sausage is one of the most processed meats of all time. It’s filled with AGEs (advanced glycation end products) that are known to increase inflammation and worsen arthritis symptoms. Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that red meat contains a molecule that humans don’t naturally produce called Neu5Gc.

When that molecule is ingested it has the possibility of triggering a chronic inflammatory response for those with arthritis and can also lead to cancer and heart disease. If you do need to eat red meat choose grass-fed animals with lean cuts.

Don’t Pass The Pretzels

pretzels at the end of a production line
Patrick Hertzog/AFP via Getty Images
Patrick Hertzog/AFP via Getty Images

Pretzels are a salty, filling, and addictive snack and have quite a negative effect on arthritis patients. A study called Clinical Evidence for the Microbiome in Inflammatory Diseases observed that the “sub-optimal biomes” found in products such as pretzels triggered inflammation for people with arthritis.

In order to have a healthy microbiome people need to eat whole fiber-rich foods including chickpeas, pistachios, and quinoa. Since the grains in pretzels are refined they lack vitamin B and fiber and can hasten the onset of degenerative diseases including cancer, coronary disease, and diabetes.

Avoid Those Sugary Sodas

a glass and bottle of coca-cola
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sugar is one of the leading causes of inflammation and a product that contains some of the largest amounts of it is soda. For example, a 12-ounce can of Sunkist orange soda contains 44 grams of sugar, which far exceeds the maximum daily allotment.

Sugar is bad enough on arthritis patients, but sugar-sweetened soda has been found to increase arthritis symptoms in women. A study in the US National Library of Medicine stated that people who drink only one sugary soda a day increase their risk for arthritis by a whopping 63 percent.

Why It’s Important To Use Balanced Cooking Oils

someone pouring cooking oil into a small bowl
Philippe Desmazes/AFP via Getty Images
Philippe Desmazes/AFP via Getty Images

Almost every time someone cooks a meal they will end up using some form of cooking oil, whether that be corn, soybean, canola, avocado, or sunflower. They are all rich in omega-6 fatty acids but are lacking nutritional omega-3s. Nutritionists claim that the imbalances with the omega-6 and omega-3 can lead to inflammation.

The imbalanced ratio also breeds illnesses such as heart disease or cancer. It’s crucial that people eat oils with a good omega-6 and omega-3 balance, which include macadamia oil or extra virgin olive oil.

Cheese Is More Than Just Addicting

four pieces of hard ripened cheese garnished with cilantro leaves
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Cheese has the ability to be addictive because it contains a protein called casein that can trigger cravings in the brain. It also has a high amount of saturated fats, which can cause inflammation for people with arthritis and heart disease.

The Arthritis Care & Research Center found that cheese has the ability to give people excruciating knee pain, even though milk made knee pain better. Those who usually get their protein from dairy products can switch to high-protein vegetables such as spinach, lentils, beans, and tofu.

Baked Goods Aren’t So… Good

cinnamon buns are bad
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Cinnamon buns are one of the most popular baked goods in the United States. It’s impossible to walk around a mall in America without being led to the Cinnabon thanks to the smell of the product.

Unfortunately for arthritis sufferers, it’s best to avoid baked goods, “Trans fats are linked with inflammation in the body—and regularly consuming these fats increases your ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, lowers your ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, and increases your risk of heart disease.”

Margarine Isn’t Better Than Butter

margarine is bad
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Earlier we briefly touched on how margarine is just as bad for arthritis sufferers as butter is. The reason, according to Meg Marie O’Rourke, RD-LDN, is how the trans fats are linked to health problems including heart disease.

The reason margarine is high in trans fat is because, “Vegetable oils such as corn oil are put through a process called hydrogenation, changing the chemical formation from a Cis to a Trans. Trans fats are found in many [sweets such as cakes, cookies, and pie crust] and increase biomarkers of inflammation.”

Refined Sugars Aren’t So Sophisticated

sugar is bad
Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images
Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images

Everyone knows that too much sugar is not healthy. For arthritis sufferers, refined sugars are the worst of the worst. Refined sugars are those that have been processed and extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets.

According to experts, “High amounts of added sugar in your diet can also exacerbate inflammation. Additionally, if your diet is high in sugar, it may be lower in anti-inflammatory foods like vegetables and fruit. Limit added sugar by reading ingredient labels, and look out for sneaky sources of hidden added sugars.”

Excess Sodium Is A Major Problem

GettyImages-462419228
LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images
LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images

If you haven’t guessed already, too much salt is a bad thing for anyone with arthritis. While the seasoning can help bring out much needed flavor in food, it can also wreak havoc on the health of arthritis sufferers.

Lisa DeFazio, MS, RD. says, “Salt may result in inflammation of joints… Avoid preservatives and additives. Less salt may help manage arthritis, so avoid prepared meals and limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day.”

Red Meat Aids Inflammation

steak is bad
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Just like you want to avoid fried foods if you have arthritis, you also will want to steer clear of red meats. Although delicious, red meats contain advanced glycation end products at high levels.

When red meat is grilled, roasted, fried, or broiled, these products help stimulate inflammation. Chicken fried steak might be hard to pass up, but it’s better for your helath to try. Healthy alternatives to red meat include chicken and fish, as long as they are not fried, of course.

Pasta Is A Refined Carbohydrate

pasta is bad
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Another white flour product to avoid that we haven’t mentioned yet is pasta. The common food is a refined carbohydatre and can cause spikes in blood glucose levels, increasing inflammation in the body as a result.

The good news is if you can’t quit pasta, there are plenty of non-white flour made pastas available for purchase today. Just make sure you check the ingredients first to make sure the pasta is going to be body friendly.

Leave Chinese Takeout At The Restaurant

chinese takeout is bad
Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images
Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

Don’t feel like cooking when you get home from work? Chinese takeout can be a popular choice for an easy dinner after a long day. The problem is that this meal tends to be high in Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG).

MSG is a common additive in several foods such as deli meats, fast foods, and salad dressings, but is most often associated with Chinese food. It can trigger inflammation, and should be avoided as a result.

Mayo Shouldn’t Be Used In Everything

mayo is bad
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

You might not realize just how much food mayo is used to make. Not just a sandwich condiment, it can also be used in salad dressings and even baking. That’s right, some cake recipes call for mayo to help keep it moist.

The problem is that, for as widely used as mayo is, it’s one of the worst foods you can put in your body. It’s full of advanced glycation end products and saturated fats. That’s a double whammy of inflammation triggering products!

The Trick With Trans Fats

GettyImages-56517467
Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Trans fats are something you should obviously avoid if you have arthritis, but how do you identify if food contains it? Many products will label on the front of the packaging whether or not they contain trans fats. Other won’t.

Even worse, on many food labels, trans fats aren’t even labeled as trans fats. Instead, they are labeled as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils,” which honestly doesn’t sound that much better to us.

Fried Chicken A Ticking Time Bomb

GettyImages-72301202
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Not only is fried chicken bad for you because it is, well, fried. It also tends to be high in salt and fat. When food is fried, it can be overcooked, destroying any nutritional value and adding carcinogens into your body.

This, like so many other foods on this list, will lead to inflammation. Instead of fried chicken, opt for grilled, but still be careful to monitor how much salt is being used in the cooking process.

Cookies Have Everything You Don’t Want

cookies are bad
Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Here’s a basic list of ingredients found in cookies: refined sugar, white flour, and butter. Those are three major ingredients to avoid if you have arthritis. If you absolutely can’t live without cookies, either decrease the amount you eat, or find an arthritis friendly recipe.

With how advanced cooking and baking has become, we bet there is a recipe out there for healthier cookies that taste like the bad ones we know and love.

Donuts Are More Like Do-Nots

donuts are bad
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Donuts are one of America’s favorite breakfast treats. They are also high in sugar and fried. You know what that means. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a good workaround for donuts if you have arthritis.

The best thing to do is to avoid them whenever possible, and make sure they are not a part of your normal every day diet. We know that sounds hard, but your body will thank you when you do.

Fast Food Is Notoriously Unhealthy

fast food is bad
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Fast food is addicting. In a pinch it’s a satisfying way to satisfy your hunger. Being full of sugar, fat, and salt, however, makes most fast food one of the worst types of meals you can put in your body.

Even when you order the salad, thinking your are making a healthier option, you probably don’t realize how much sugar is contained in the salad dressing. You’re better off just going home and making your own salad.

BBQ’d Anything

bbq is bad
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

You might think that putting vegetables on the BBQ instead of meat is the healthier option, but if you have arthritis that truth isn’t so tasty. Whenever you BBQ any kind of food, you’re adding smoke and char, which leads to AGEs.

Once these AGEs enter your body, it doesn’t know how to react and becomes inflamed as a result. When that happens, it can have a devastating impact on your already aching joints.

Tomatoes Aren’t The Only Nightshade Vegetable To Avoid

potatoes are bad
Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tomatoes, as you’ve already read, are not a friend to anyone with arthritis. They are considered a part of the nightshade vegetable family, a group which contains alkaloids, which can contribute to unwanted inflammation.

Other vegetables in this family include eggplant, goji berries, tomatillos, and potatoes. Not all types of potatoes, though. If you’re obsessed with sweet potatoes, you can keep eating them. Avoid yellow potatoes as much as possible.

Read The Label On Fruit Juices

fruit juice is bad
Alexander Pohl/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Alexander Pohl/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Fruit juices tend to be much higher in sugar than we think they are. Always read the label when buying fruit juice. You’d be shocked to find how many brands produced their product from concentrate or use added sugar.

When you can, only buy fruit juice with no extra sugar added. It will taste more like the original fruit, too. You can also avoid potentially buying a giant sugar bomb by juicing your own fruit as well.

Fried Vegetables Aren’t Healthier

fried veggies are bad
Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Just like grilling veggies, when you fry them you inadvertently turn them into arthritis bombs. Frying foods adds fat and kills nutrients. And don’t forget that most food is salted as soon as it comes out of the fryer.

Next time you’re at a restaurant and thinking to yourself you’ll get the tempura green beans instead of the french fries, you might be cutting back on calories, but not necessarily the impact on your health.

White Bread Is Empty

white bread is bad
Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images
Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images

Full of white flour and refined sugar, white bread is the last kind of bread you should be making a sandwich out of. Sure, it’s a childhood classic and goes perfect with peanut butter and jelly, but that’s about it.

White bread is not only full of shocking amounts of sugar, it also tends to be highly processed. Bread is best bought fresh from the baker, where what goes into it can be more controlled.

Pre-Prepared Soups Are Full Of MSG

canned soup is bad
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Pre-packaged and canned soups can be tricky. Several options looks healthy, but really aren’t. Before you put that can of chicken noodle in your cart, check the nutrition label, the amount of salt will surprise you.

These kinds of soups also tend to be high in MSG, which as you know can lead to inflammation. Make your own soup and stock for a healthier and far more rewarding taste experience.

Flour Tortillas Are Best Left Alone

flour tortillas are bad
Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Tortilla come in a variety of styles, most commonly flour or corn. If you are given the choice, corn is the better option. Flour tortillas in the United States tend to be made from white flour.

More traditional tortillas are also high in fat and are often made with animal lard. Corn tortillas are made from corn that has been pounded into masa and are the more traditional option for a more authentic eating experience.