Bad Foods for Arthritis

Foods that increase arthritis pain

If you suffer from Osteoarthritis (OA) and the pain that goes along with it, there are some things that you need to learn about food. That’s right. Food can affect your arthritis. In fact, I learned that in the most unexpected way.

So, how did I learn about this?

Actually, it happened quite by accident. One day, I went to the doctor’s office to get some new X-rays of my arthritic knee. And, while I was there I was thumbing through a magazine to pass the time when all of a sudden I overheard two men talking. Both of them very loud.

The men were arguing about food of all things. It definitely caught my attention because they were talking about less arthritis pain.

 One was saying that there were “good foods” to eat if you have arthritis. He also said that the issue was “inflammation” and that certain foods cause more inflammation and in turn, that caused more pain. The other gentleman was just plain skeptical. He said basically that “whatever he ate it didn’t seem to matter to his joints.” So, he had no interest in changing his lifestyle and it seemed clear to me that he did not believe that food had anything to do with pain.

It turned out that the first gentleman was right. Certain foods can really cause big pain issues if you have arthritis. And, inflammation is the key. I found this out because I discussed their conversation with the doctor when I saw him. And, he agreed 100% that certain foods will help you a lot if you have arthritis. He even gave me a pamphlet that he had prepared for his patients that outlined all of this.

Let’s take a look at how you can help yourself at the table.

The good foods for Arthritis Sufferers

The first thing I asked the doctor when I got in to see him was about this argument I heard in the waiting room. And, he was quick to say, “It’s true. The foods you eat when you have arthritis can make a difference in your pain levels.”

He went on to say that he had created a chart of both “healthy food for arthritis” and “foods that could cause pain for those with arthritis.”

Here is an example of the chart he prepared for foods to eat and which to avoid:


arthritis foods chart

via Harvard Health Publishing

Bad foods for those with Arthritis

In general, foods can be divided into non-inflammatory and those that cause inflammation. Of course, inflammation can cause pain to increase. Why is that? The clinical studies suggest that eating anti-inflammatory foods will reduce your pain. So, it is important.

Here is a list of “inflammatory” foods

  • Dairy products

Most of us are raised to believe that consuming dairy products is healthy for our body. While that may be true when we are young, it may not be such a good idea as we get older. When you are consuming too many dairy products you run the risk of increasing your arthritis pain. The reason is that there is a protein found in these products that might irritate the tissue around your joints. In spite of that, a 2017 study found that milk is anti-inflammatory. So, we have that contradictory evidence.

So, what should you do? This writer would recommend “testing” some milk in your diet to see how you feel. It may be the only way to find out which is correct.

  • And, the lactose in dairy

As well, the lactose found in dairy products is usually broken down by an enzyme called lactose. Lactose is produced inside your small intestine. However, most adults have little ability to produce lactose after they are no longer after they leave infancy. So, what happens when you consume dairy products?

The dairy you ingest is going to cause bloating, diarrhea, gas, and even pain as your body is trying in vain to digest it.

A handful of adults can digest lactose so it then becomes glucose. Glucose can raise your blood sugar; and, cause chaos with inflammation throughout your body. So, either way you are going to have inflammation and pain.

  • Foods with sugar content

Food with high sugar content can cause increases in AGE’s. In turn, that causes inflammation. What is AGE’s? (Advanced Glycation End products).

That fancy description means this:

AGE’s are either proteins or lipids that become “glycated” when exposed to sugar. That leads to aging and exposure to many degenerative diseases. Examples? Atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic kidney disease. And, that’s not all.

  • Sugars and refined carbohydrates

Excessive amounts of sugar in your diet will increase the incidence of AGE’s which in turn will cause inflammation. And, we know that inflammation increases pain.

In brief, lose the sweets. The sodas, the ice cream, candy, processed foods, baked goods made with white flour, etc..

  • AGE’s and other foods

AGE’s also occur naturally in many foods. Most are those that are derived from animals that are rich in fat and protein. And, certain things cause an increase in some foods that are cooked at high temperatures or cheese that is aged.

  •  Salt

When you consume too much salt (sodium) your cells tend to retain water. That means it equals inflammation. And while salt is good for your body, too much is definitely not a good thing. Excessive salt consumption will cause inflammation and in turn, it can contribute to damage to your joints. Studies have confirmed that most of us use too much salt. You might try some alternative spices such as black pepper containing flavors. Consuming too much sodium will also cause your cells to retain water. In turn, this causes inflammation. And we know, that leads to more pain. Studies by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)  has found that Americans consume far too much salt.  So, for your own good just lay off the salt 

  • Preservatives in Food

Fried food is loaded with saturated fat. And, most has a high salt content as well as artificial preservatives. These types of foods also contribute to obesity and of course, that is a factor in both arthritis and pain. Obesity will only accelerate joint deterioration. And, worst on list? Fried meat! An American favorite.


Modify your lifestyle. Read over this list of bad foods for arthritis and change the way you eat. You are not losing anything you can’t live without. You are gaining a leg up on arthritis pain. Not only that, you are also going to live a longer and healthier life.


Be smart. Eat right. Lose pain.


Make sure to read our follow up post: Good Foods for Arthritis.