If you have arthritis, you may have heard that certain foods can worsen your symptoms.
While there is no definitive list of foods that all people with arthritis should avoid, there are some general guidelines that may help you manage your condition more effectively.
Here are five foods you may want to avoid if you suffer from arthritis:
1. Sugar and refined carbohydrates
Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates may contribute to inflammation in your body, which can worsen arthritis symptoms.
In one study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” in 2014, researchers found a high-sugar diet was associated with an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
To reduce your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates, try cutting back on sugary drinks and snacks, and choosing whole-grain carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa, and wholewheat bread instead of refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta.
2. Fried and processed foods
Fried and processed foods, such as fast food and processed snacks, may be high in unhealthy fats and additives that can contribute to inflammation in your body.
A study published in the “Journal of Nutrition” in 2015 found that a diet high in processed foods was associated with an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
To avoid fried and processed foods, try cooking more meals at home using fresh ingredients like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
You can also choose healthier snack options like nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits instead of processed snacks like chips and crackers.
3. Nightshade vegetables
Nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant contain a compound called solanine that may contribute to inflammation in your body.
While the evidence is not conclusive, some people with arthritis may find that avoiding nightshade vegetables helps alleviate their symptoms.
If you suspect that nightshade vegetables may be worsening your arthritis symptoms, try eliminating them from your diet for a few weeks and see if you notice any improvement.
You can also try substituting other vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and leafy greens in your meals.
4. Dairy products
Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt may be high in saturated fats, which can contribute to inflammation in your body.
A study published in the “Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics” in 2017 found that consuming dairy products was associated with an increased risk of developing knee osteoarthritis.
To reduce your intake of dairy products, try substituting plant-based alternatives like almond milk and soy cheese.
You can also choose lean protein sources like chicken, fish, and beans instead of high-fat dairy products like cheese and cream.
Alcohol consumption can contribute to inflammation in your body and may worsen arthritis symptoms.
A study published in the “Journal of Rheumatology” in 2015 found that alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of developing gout, a type of arthritis.
To reduce your alcohol intake, try limiting yourself to one or two drinks per day, or eliminate alcohol from your diet entirely.
You can also choose non-alcoholic alternatives like sparkling water or fruit juice.
While avoiding certain foods may help some people with arthritis, it is not a substitute for other important aspects of arthritis management, such as treatments, medication, exercise, and physical therapy.
In addition to avoiding certain foods, there are also foods that may help reduce inflammation in the body and improve arthritis symptoms. These include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish like salmon and sardines, as well as nuts and seeds like flaxseed and chia seeds.
Other anti-inflammatory foods include fruits like berries and cherries, and vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and kale
If you are considering making changes to your diet to manage your arthritis symptoms, it is important to approach it in a balanced and sustainable way.
Work with a registered dietitian or health professional to create a plan that meets your nutritional needs while also helping you manage your arthritis symptoms.