Food to Avoid with Arthritis

If you knew what food to avoid with arthritis, would you change how you eat? Making changes in dietary habits is one of the most difficult challenges in improving health. But for many with arthritis symptoms, the choice is either more medication with the associated side effects or making some lifestyle changes. At a minimum, learning what the research indicates regarding food and inflammation can help you make choices that can help provide pain relief.

Avoid Bad Fats

It comes as no surprise that a food to avoid with arthritis is fat. Not only does fat have negative cardiovascular effects but can also increase inflammation in the body. As arthritis is an inflammatory condition, avoiding bad fats can help minimize inflammation.

So what are the bad fats? Saturated fats, Trans fats, and arachidonic acid are considered unhealthy. Arachidonic acid is a lesser known polyunsaturated fat that is more commonly known as an Omega-6 fatty acid. Although the body does need Omega-6, excess amount of this fatty acid has strong negative effects. And the typical American diet is generally overloaded with Omega-6.

What foods contain these substances? Arachidonic acid is found in fatty meats, egg yolks, and organ meats. Saturated fats are found in animal products including meat, dairy products, eggs, and seafood. Some plants also contain saturated fats including coconut oil and palm oil.

Trans fats are generally our liquid fats used in processed foods because they increase shelf life. They are also commonly used for frying foods such as French fries in fast food restaurants.

To help minimize the bad fats in the diet, limit the amount of fast food, red meats, processed meats, dairy products, and of course junk food. Read the label on all processed food to evaluate the amount of saturated and Trans fat the product contains.

If you are looking to build your knowledge on what to put in your body, how to take care of it and how to help others, consider

Limit Sugar Intake

Another type of food to avoid with arthritis is sugar. Foods that contain simple sugars or refined carbohydrates also create an inflammatory reaction in the body.

Not only are foods that are high in sugar associated with inflammation in the body but are also associated with increased obesity. For those with hip osteoarthritis or knee osteoarthritis , limiting the stress on these joints is an important aspect in reducing pain. Body weight plays a significant factor in joint stress and efforts should be made to minimize body weight.

Foods high in sugars include sweetened cereals, sodas, cookies and pastries. Watch for hidden sugars in foods that appear healthy. White bread and pasta are sources of processed carbohydrates. Foods such as yogurt, fruit juices, spaghetti sauces, and even peanut butter can be higher in sugars than we may think. Make sure to read the labels of all processed foods to evaluate the sugar content.

What about Nightshades?

Are nightshades another class of food to avoid with arthritis? Nightshades are foods that contain alkaloids and include white potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, all peppers (except for black pepper) and tobacco.


The internet is filled with information regarding the benefits of eliminating these foods for those suffering from arthritis symptoms. And, many doctors do recommend eliminating these foods from your diet, especially when other treatment recommendations have proven unsuccessful.

Unfortunately there is no published research on the effectiveness of eliminating nightshade foods with reducing arthritis symptoms. Obviously minimizing these foods in your diet will not hurt you, but there is currently no evidence that it will reduce joint pain.


As with many dietary recommendations, anti-inflammatory diets are fairly straight forward. Foods that increase inflammation in our bodies are foods we should all generally limit, whether we have arthritis or not. Minimize the intake of processed foods, fast food, junk food, red meat, processed meats, dairy products, sugars, and processed carbohydrates like pastries, white bread, and pasta.

Dr. Perricone, a well known anti-aging doctor, summarizes these recommendations for an anti-inflammatory diet in this video:

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