Foods to Avoid if You Have Arthritis

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Common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis, caused by wear and tear on the joints; rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own joints; and gout, caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body. Regardless of the type of arthritis you have, cutting back or eliminating foods that can aggravate inflammation may help alleviate the pain and swelling.

High-Calorie Foods

Obesity is directly linked to osteoarthritis, especially of the knees, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Every pound of excess weight puts 4 pounds of extra stress on your knees. And fat itself creates chemicals that can aggravate inflammation, which explains why obese people are also at higher risk of arthritis in the hands. Obesity is linked to rheumatoid arthritis and gout as well, says the Arthritis Foundation. Cutting back on foods that are loaded with fats and sugars, especially empty calories like soda or foods that trigger you to overeat, can help peel off pounds.

Foods Cooked at High Temperature

Advanced glycation end-products, or AGEs, are substances present in many foods, especially high-fat foods, processed foods and foods that are fried, grilled, microwaved or baked. Although foods loaded with AGEs have not been linked directly to arthritis, cutting back on them can help fight inflammation, report researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. In an article in the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association," the researchers noted that you can cut back on AGEs by eating more fish, vegetables, fruits, grains and low-fat dairy products and fewer meats and high-fat dairy foods. You can also cook foods at lower temperatures or by moist-heat methods, or steep meats in an acid-based marinade before grilling, baking or frying.

Food Sensitivities

Gluten sensitivity can cause a variety of symptoms, including joint pain. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis have reported that dairy foods, citrus fruits or plants in the nightshade family such as potatoes or chili peppers aggravated arthritis symptoms. There’s little science to back that up, reports the Arthritis Foundation, but a 2006 study reported in “Gut” did find that many rheumatoid arthritis patients had elevated levels of antibodies to foods, including dairy, soy, cod, pork, eggs and cereals. The researchers hypothesized that food sensitivities might aggravate the autoimmune responses in rheumatoid arthritis.

High-Purine Foods and Alcohol

If gout is the problem, cut back on foods high in purines since they cause an increase in uric acid. High-purine foods include anchovies, asparagus, organ meats, herring, mackerel, sardines, scallops and dried beans and peas. Alcohol can also increase uric acid, according to the National Institutes of Health.