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The 8 Worst Foods for Joint Pain & Arthritis

BY PUREHEALTH RESEARCH | Oct 08, 2021

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Constant, nagging joint pain can disrupt and even prevent you from your daily tasks and activities. Simple things like getting out of bed in the morning, putting away dishes, and rising from a chair can become a monumental effort. And after the agony of descending a couple of flights of stairs, most sufferers just want to stop moving and lie down.

Many people with joint pain end up shying away from their favorite hobbies and exercise. As a result, joint pain can dramatically reduce your activity level, increasing your risk for weight gain and putting your health in jeopardy. And it can increase your risk for falls and fractures.

Common causes of joint pain include mechanical wear and tear (osteoarthritis), infection, injury, inflammation (arthritis), and autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis, gout, lupus, and more).1 Although osteoarthritis isn’t caused by inflammation, the damage from wear and tear will trigger an inflammatory response. Research shows that up to 40% of men and 47% of women will be diagnosed with osteoarthritis during their lifetime.2

Evidence shows that certain foods help fuel the flames of joint inflammation. Avoiding these foods can dramatically choke off the inflammatory attack on your joints and provide relief. So, let’s explore these.

Inflammatory Foods to Avoid

Growing up, your family likely enjoyed some traditional recipes that aren’t particularly healthy, but they score happy memories. And you might have developed habits like picking up a pizza after a long work week and crashing in front of the TV with a slice to decompress. Usually, we don’t consider the consequences of that pizza, the corned beef on rye eaten at lunch, or the BBQ burgers and hot dogs served at the backyard get-together. But these foods do have harmful consequences. They drive inflammation and disease, including joint pain.

1. Added Refined Sugars

Refined SugarAdded refined sugars are bad news. Sugar feeds inflammation, obesity, heart disease, type II diabetes, bowel diseases, and more, including joint pain. Yet, sugar is added to every processed food, box, bottle, can, condiment, ready-made food, bread, and fast-food joint food out there. Why? Because sugar is addictive. And companies rely on that fact to keep you buying their products. And to keep you in the dark, they’ve gotten sneaky by changing the types of sugar used in their products. This list shows some of them.

Added refined sugars are bad news. Sugar feeds inflammation, obesity, heart disease, type II diabetes, bowel diseases, and more, including joint pain. Yet, sugar is added to every processed food, box, bottle, can, condiment, ready-made food, bread, and fast-food joint food out there. Why? Because sugar is addictive. And companies rely on that fact to keep you buying their products. And to keep you in the dark, they’ve gotten sneaky by changing the types of sugar used in their products. This list shows some of them.

Refined Sugar

Statistics show that the current average consumption of sugar is 42.5 teaspoons per day, which works out to a whopping 152 pounds every year.3 The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar intake to about 6 teaspoons for women and 9 for men.4 However, there is absolutely no nutrient value to sugar. It spikes blood sugar and reduces insulin sensitivity, harms your gut flora, increases free radical damage, sparks inflammation, and leads to disease.

2. Processed and red meats

Shelves SupermarketEating sausages with your eggs or snacking on beef jerky after a ham sandwich or a bacon cheeseburger is like pouring gasoline on the fire in your joints. Processed meats are those that are either smoked, salted, cured, dried, or canned. Studies show that regularly eating processed meat increases inflammatory markers, including interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive proteins (CRPs), and homocysteine.5 6 These markers attack your joints and other organ systems. For example, homocysteine can also harm the lining of arteries, leading to clots, hardening of the arteries, stroke, and heart disease.

Eating sausages with your eggs or snacking on beef jerky after a ham sandwich or a bacon cheeseburger is like pouring gasoline on the fire in your joints. Processed meats are those that are either smoked, salted, cured, dried, or canned. Studies show that regularly eating processed meat increases inflammatory markers, including interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive proteins (CRPs), and homocysteine.5 6 These markers attack your joints and other organ systems. For example, homocysteine can also harm the lining of arteries, leading to clots, hardening of the arteries, stroke, and heart disease.

Shelves Supermarket

The above study also showed that processed and red meats worsened symptoms of RA. Additionally, another study in 25,630 people found that a diet high in red meat increases the risk of inflammatory arthritis.7 8 And to further highlight this point, the flip side shows that plant-based diets improve arthritis symptoms.9 Avoiding processed meats, choosing grass-fed lean meats, and limiting your intake to twice per week, can significantly reduce joint pain symptoms.

3. Gluten & Refined Grains

Rafined GrainsGluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten causes intestinal permeability or Leaky Gut. It harms the delicate lining in your gut, allowing undigested food and other nasties to enter your bloodstream, triggering inflammation. Studies show removing gluten from your diet gives your gut a chance to recover and dramatically reduces inflammation – and may reverse it altogether.10 11

Gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten causes intestinal permeability or Leaky Gut. It harms the delicate lining in your gut, allowing undigested food and other nasties to enter your bloodstream, triggering inflammation. Studies show removing gluten from your diet gives your gut a chance to recover and dramatically reduces inflammation – and may reverse it altogether.10 11

Rafined Grains

Another study in people with RA found that a gluten-free, vegan diet significantly reduced disease activity and inflammation.12 13 Avoiding gluten may have beneficial effects on joint swelling and discomfort.

All refined grains are processed. They’re stripped of most of their goodness, including fiber, minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids. This leaves a pro-inflammatory fuel that aggravates joint pain and arthritis symptoms.14 Choose whole grains, preferably ancient grains, such as amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, arrowroot, flax, gluten-free oats, millet, sorghum, and teff.15 16

4. Processed Foods

SupermarketProcessed foods, as previously mentioned, including baked goods, refined grains, sugars, preservatives, artificial colors, and more, promote inflammation and worsen joint pain and arthritis symptoms. They also increase your risk for obesity, disease, and RA. Studies found that people with RA who often eat processed foods showed higher glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels. This marker shows blood sugar control.17 Simply put, processed foods place your health at risk for diseases.

Processed foods, as previously mentioned, including baked goods, refined grains, sugars, preservatives, artificial colors, and more, promote inflammation and worsen joint pain and arthritis symptoms. They also increase your risk for obesity, disease, and RA. Studies found that people with RA who often eat processed foods showed higher glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels. This marker shows blood sugar control.17 Simply put, processed foods place your health at risk for diseases.

Supermarket

Studies also show that the high salt content of processed foods affects Th17 cells, increasing interleukin-17 (IL-17) markers and aggravating the severity of arthritis and RA.18 Additionally, a mouse study showed that a low-salt diet produced less cartilage breakdown, bone destruction, and lower inflammatory markers.19 Swapping out processed foods for whole foods can catapult your health to new levels and significantly improve your joint health.

5. Alcohol

AlcoholAlcohol is toxic to your body – period. That’s why it’s called “intoxication” when you drink too much. That toxicity drives inflammation. One study tied alcohol intake to increased spinal damage in 278 people with axial spondyloarthritis – arthritis of the spinal cord and sacroiliac (SI) joints.20 Studies also show it plays a role in the frequency and severity of gout attacks.21 22 23 24 In fact, studies show that even moderate alcohol consumption is linked with an increased risk of osteoarthritis and worsening of symptoms.25

Alcohol is toxic to your body – period. That’s why it’s called “intoxication” when you drink too much. That toxicity drives inflammation. One study tied alcohol intake to increased spinal damage in 278 people with axial spondyloarthritis – arthritis of the spinal cord and sacroiliac (SI) joints.20 Studies also show it plays a role in the frequency and severity of gout attacks.21 22 23 24 In fact, studies show that even moderate alcohol consumption is linked with an increased risk of osteoarthritis and worsening of symptoms.25

Alcohol
6. Nightshades

NightshadesNightshades are a group of foods that contain a glycoalkaloid poison called solanine.26 This poison acts as the plant’s defense system against pests. However, in humans, solanine is toxic. It could cause symptoms ranging from nausea to cardiac dysrhythmia.27 It also promotes inflammation and joint pain in people with arthritis.

Nightshades are a group of foods that contain a glycoalkaloid poison called solanine.26 This poison acts as the plant’s defense system against pests. However, in humans, solanine is toxic. It could cause symptoms ranging from nausea to cardiac dysrhythmia.27 It also promotes inflammation and joint pain in people with arthritis.

Nightshades

These foods include white potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, paprika, salsa, peppers (bell, sweet, chili, jalapeno), curry, cayenne, chili powder, and goji berries.28

7. Dairy

Milk ProteinDairy contains milk proteins called casein and whey. These are milk sugars and the reason why dairy causes food sensitivities and stomach pain. But the harmful effects don’t stop there. Dairy can also cause congestion, sinusitis, postnasal drip, and ear infections. This means dairy flares an inflammatory response, which can also attack your joints.29

Dairy contains milk proteins called casein and whey. These are milk sugars and the reason why dairy causes food sensitivities and stomach pain. But the harmful effects don’t stop there. Dairy can also cause congestion, sinusitis, postnasal drip, and ear infections. This means dairy flares an inflammatory response, which can also attack your joints.29

Milk Protein
8. Eggs

Eggs can adversely affect some people more than others. When some people eat too many eggs in their diet, it could swell up joints and spike pain. Eggs contain arachidonic acid and saturated fat, which can trigger an inflammatory response. Arachidonic acid is broken down into inflammatory prostaglandins that lead to increased swelling and joint pain.30

EggsThat said, eggs are incredibly nutritious containing vitamins, and essential nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus, zinc, choline, and vitamins A, B1, B12, D, E, and K. It also contains potent antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect your eyes from damage and the risk of cataracts.31 Recent studies show that large amounts of dietary cholesterol in general (including eggs in particular) don’t correspond to high cholesterol levels or increased risk of heart disease.32 33

That said, eggs are incredibly nutritious containing vitamins, and essential nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus, zinc, choline, and vitamins A, B1, B12, D, E, and K. It also contains potent antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect your eyes from damage and the risk of cataracts.31 Recent studies show that large amounts of dietary cholesterol in general (including eggs in particular) don’t correspond to high cholesterol levels or increased risk of heart disease.32 33

Eggs

Avoiding the foods on the above list can dramatically ease your movement and range of motion. The resulting reduction of inflammation, swelling, and pain also slows its damaging effects on joints. And as the roar of joint agony fades, you’re free to reclaim your favorite hobbies and complete your daily activities with freedom!

REFERENCES:
  1. https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/arthritis-gout
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK518992/
  3. https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/documents/sugar.pdf
  4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/added-sugar-in-the-diet/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6746966/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3893727/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5563270/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15593211/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6746966/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705319/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5827298/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5827298/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11600749/
  14. https://www.nasabone.com/blog/foods-to-avoid-if-you-have-chronic-joint-pain
  15. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/gluten-free-diet/art-20048530
  16. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-gluten-free-grains#1.-Sorghum
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31902026/
  18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30554495/
  19. https://ard.bmj.com/content/74/Suppl_2/73.1
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6692958/
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546606/
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991555/
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6125106/
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5134876/
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5878837/
  26. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanine
  27. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/solanine
  28. https://blumhealthmd.com/2020/01/09/4-foods-to-avoid-right-now-if-you-have-joint-pain/?doing_wp_cron=1631763278.0827279090881347656250
  29. https://blumhealthmd.com/2020/01/09/4-foods-to-avoid-right-now-if-you-have-joint-pain/?doing_wp_cron=1631763278.0827279090881347656250
  30. https://www.nasabone.com/blog/foods-to-avoid-if-you-have-chronic-joint-pain
  31. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/whats-the-difference-between-egg-yolks-and-egg-whites#egg-yolk-nutrition-calories-vitamins-and-fats-in-egg-yolks
  32. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/whats-the-difference-between-egg-yolks-and-egg-whites#egg-yolk-nutrition-calories-vitamins-and-fats-in-egg-yolks
  33. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/08/15/are-eggs-good-for-you-or-not
  34. https://www.liverdoctor.com/the-best-and-worst-foods-for-arthritis/
  35. https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/47428602313131670/
  36. https://ecobooks4kids.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/processed-meats-no-longer-safe-to-consume/
  37. https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/selection-gluten-free-food-1020163204
  38. https://www.theguardian.com/food/2020/feb/13/how-ultra-processed-food-took-over-your-shopping-basket-brazil-carlos-monteiro
  39. https://mealpreponfleek.com/nightshades/
  40. https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/various-dairy-products-627224804
  41. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323001#cholesterol-
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