Arthritis is a painful condition that results in degeneration and chronic inflammation of the joints or nearby tissues. We often think of arthritis as an unavoidable part of the aging process, but scientists beg to disagree. Research has shown that certain foods may predispose some people to arthritis or exacerbate symptoms in individuals who’ve already received an arthritis diagnosis. Below are several foods to avoid if arthritis is a concern.
Salt. According to the Arthritis Foundation, too much salt can negatively impact anyone who has rheumatoid arthritis (RA). That’s because corticosteroids that are frequently used to treat RA create unhealthy sodium levels within the body. As a result, anyone with RA is urged to limit their salt intake to half a teaspoon a day, switch to a salt substitute, or ditch salt altogether.
Sugar. If you have a sweet tooth, beware. Sugar, especially refined products like high fructose corn syrup, can cause the body to release inflammation-producing proteins called cytokines that can result in arthritis flare-ups. Since people living with arthritis already produce an overabundance of cytokines, sugar only makes matters worse.
Dairy Products. Milk and cheese are often touted as helping bones and joints, but dairy products may actually be detrimental. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Nutrition determined that dairy may produce low-grade inflammation. Another study discovered that people who consumed large amounts of dairy were more likely to need hip replacement surgeries.
Alcohol. Some people think that wetting their whistle with a glass or two of alcohol is a surefire way to relieve aches and pains, but medical experts have seen mixed results. While some research has shown that small amounts of alcohol may help reduce cytokines, a 2015 study noted that drinking even beer increased the risk of knee and hip osteoarthritis.
Nightshades. While a healthy diet that’s loaded with fresh vegetables is excellent for keeping arthritis pain in check, there are a few you may want to cross off your shopping list. Nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes contain a chemical called solanine, which may aggravate arthritis symptoms.
Red Meat. Anyone suffering from RA should limit their meat intake. A 2004 study that tracked subjects’ food diaries revealed that heavy meat eaters were more than twice as likely to report arthritis flare-ups. Scientists suspect several culprits, including high protein intake, meat collagen, or possibly additives.
Keep in mind there are plenty of foods that can help reduce arthritis inflammation and pain. Some of these include fish, nuts, broccoli, cherries, and beans. Speak with your physician or nutritionist if you, a loved one, or a friend need sound advice on creating a healthy diet that keeps arthritis symptoms at bay.