Foods that can lead to inflammation

According to the Arthritis Foundation, when you have arthritis, your body is in an inflammatory condition. What you eat may not just increase inflammation, but it can also set you up for other chronic conditions like obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Some food ingredients may trigger more inflammation in the human body, and should be avoided.

The first step may be to eliminate those foods from your diet. The aches and pains that come with arthritis can be a challenge to live with, and your diet may be partly to blame. This is why experts highly recommend an anti-inflammatory diet for anyone who has rheumatoid arthritis.

An autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or RA causes the body's immune system to attack normal, healthy cells mistakenly. This causes inflammation in the synovial (the tissue that lines the inside of joints), leading to the thickening of the tissue to eventually destroy the cartilage and bone that make up the joints over time. Inflammation is at the heart of RA, and a diet that helps fight inflammation may be your best starting bet to beat joint pain.

Foods to avoid for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some foods that are known to cause inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis lead to increased joint pain. As a part of a healthy RA management strategy, it's best you avoid eating these foods altogether.


1. Sugars

Not only are sugars and refined carbohydrates extremely unhealthy, but they also cause a sugar-spike, which produces pro-inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines. These worsen your rheumatoid arthritis joint pain and cause further inflammation. Also, these calorie-dense foods will make you pack on more pounds, which will exert additional stress on your joints. Give up all refined carbs and sugary treats.


2.  Excess salt

Not only will eating excess salt increase the risk of high blood pressure, researchers now believe that high sodium intake is a potential environmental factor for immune-mediated inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.


3. Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Omega 6 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid which the body requires for normal growth and development. The body requires a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Excessive consumption of omega-6s can cause the body to generate pro-inflammatory chemicals. These fatty acids are found in oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, soy, peanut, and vegetable; mayonnaise; and lots of salad dressings.


4. Gluten and Casein

Individuals who have joint pain and are allergic to gluten, found in wheat, barley and rye, or casein, found in dairy products, may find relief from preventing them. And those diagnosed with celiac disease, where gluten sets off an autoimmune reaction that damages the small intestine and sometimes causes joint pain may find relief when they embrace a gluten-free diet. There can be an overlap where some people with arthritis have gluten sensitivity or have celiac disease. Researchers now believe that rheumatoid arthritis may have genetic overlap with other autoimmune disorders. As such, it might be linked to celiac disease, and that's why if you suffer from RA, its best to cut back on a gluten-free. Launched in wheat, rye, and barley, gluten is a complex protein that's tough to digest and might contribute to inflammation.


5. Alcohol & Tobacco

Alcohol is a burden to the liver. Excessive use interrupts liver functioning and disrupts other multi-organ interactions and can lead to inflammation. It's best removed or used in moderation. Primarily, alcohol is not recommended for anyone who chooses pain medication. And in case you've got rheumatoid arthritis, it's likely that you're on these very drugs. Aside from the dangers of mixing alcohol with pain pills, alcohol also boosts low-grade inflammation. Studies also have found that IL-6 or interleukin-6 (a pro-inflammatory marker) levels were significantly related to smoking, especially among smokers. It's time to give up smoking. And should you drink, do so only occasionally.


6. Red meat

A study done at the department of food science and technology, University of California, found correlations between the consumption of red meat and processed meat and rheumatoid arthritis, along with type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and certain types of cancers. Red meat contains a high level of saturated fats,and triggers an inflammatory response in the body, which in turn can increase swelling and pain in joints. Many who have rheumatoid arthritis find that their symptoms drastically improve when they give up red meat and shift to plant-based diet like beans, legumes, and soy.


7. Processed foods

Ready-to-eat packaged foods and snacks contain additives, fillers, sugars, and preservatives to increase their commercial shelf-life. These foods aid inflammation and are far from healthy. Eliminate processed foods from your diet today, and instead choose whole nutrient-dense real foods that you grew up with.


8. Fried foods

It's time to give up on french fries, fried chicken, or fried snacks. Not only do fried foods lead to obesity and heart disease, but frying foods also leads to the formation of advanced gyration end products (AGEs) harmful compounds that are linked to oxidative stress and inflammation. According to a study done at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, dietary AGEs may play an essential role in the causation of chronic diseases associated with underlying inflammation.


9. Food additives like MSG

Found very commonly in Chinese food, MSG or monosodium glutamate is a chemical-based food additive that may trigger an inflammatory response. Your immune system is already stressed when you have arthritis. Your body's defense mechanism may identify MSG and other artificially-made food additives as foreign bodies, and that will cause even more inflammation.


10. Aspartame

Diet soda is high in aspartame, which activates inflammatory responses, especially in people that are currently suffering from an inflammatory disease with rheumatoid arthritis.


11. Dairy

For some, symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may flare up in response to casein, a protein found in milk. Research has also shown that vitamin D (a vital nutrient in dairy products) ingestion is linked with rheumatoid arthritis. It's not unusual for patients suffering from RA to also be lactose intolerant. You should cut out all dairy products from your diet to determine if it brings about any improvements in your RA symptoms.


12. Unhealthy fats

Prevent all trans fats, saturated fats, and hydrogenated oils. Instead, boost your body's ability to fight inflammation by incorporating more omega-3 fats in your diet. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, it is all the more reason to ditch regular cooking oils. Not only do these contribute to an imbalanced omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in the body, but these also activate inflammatory reactions that increase your RA pain. Research performed at Royal Adelaide Hospital, South Australia, found the potential for complementarity between drug therapy and dietary options that increase the intake of omega 3 fats and reduce consumption of omega 6 fats. In particular, there's the prospect of drug-sparing effects.

Polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as grape seed, cottonseed, safflower, and corn and sunflower oils are best avoided. Instead, use extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, cod liver oil, or macadamia oil rich in omega 3's and also oleic acid, a heart-healthy, monounsaturated fatty acid. Studies have found that olive oil and olive oil supplementation in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis generated beneficial immunologic outcomes.

It's best to cut back on saturated fats when you've got rheumatoid arthritis. In terms of trans fats, avoid them completely, as they promote inflammation.


13. Coffee

Research suggests heavy coffee drinking can increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Why not have a cup of tea instead?



Get a Consultation
(650) 539-4545
Get more information via email