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10 Foods You Should Never Eat if You Have Arthritis

Do you have arthritis and keep experiencing symptoms and pain? You may notice that medicine is only doing so much to help, or that you have really bad days of pain and swelling and aren’t sure what is going on.

The truth is that arthritis is heavily influenced by your diet. While you can’t magically get rid of arthritis by changing your diet, you may be able to reduce the pain and symptoms.

To do that, you have to know what you should and shouldn’t eat. If you want to make sure that you aren’t increasing your chances of a flare-up of pain, this article will cover what foods to avoid and what to eat instead.

Added Sugars

10 Foods You Should Never Eat if You Have Arthritis- pre-made foods

It’s a good idea to reduce the amount of added sugars you are eating anyway, but if you have arthritis, it can be even more beneficial.

You may think you are already avoiding added sugars, especially if you are staying away from candy, ice creams, chocolates, and sodas. However, sugar is in a lot of things you may not realize, like certain condiments, yogurt, dressings, and even pre-made foods.

Certain sugar substitutes can also have the same reaction, like aspartame and high fructose corn syrup, so always do your research before trying a new sugar substitute. Stevia, monk fruit, dates, and honey can be good substitutes. While you may want to reduce natural sugars as well, such as those in fruits and vegetables, they aren’t as bad for you.

Trans Fats

10 Foods You Should Never Eat if You Have Arthritis- frying oil

Fats can be beneficial, but artificial fats, and especially artificial trans fats, can be dangerous. They are actually the worst out of all the fats and are common in foods like margarine, microwave popcorn, vegetable shortening, packaged desserts, soybean oil, and frying oil.

Trans fats raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower your HDL (good) cholesterol, so you should avoid them as much as possible.

Certain Vegetable Oils

10 Foods You Should Never Eat if You Have Arthritis- vegetable oils

While fats are necessary for your diet, it is important to make sure you are getting the right kinds of fats. Generally, you want to avoid excessive intake of omega-6 as often as possible. Mostly, you want to make sure that your ratio of omega-3s and omega-6s is correct.

Vegetable oils such as sunflower, safflower, soy, sesame, and corn oils are very high in omega-6 fatty acids. They contribute to the proper functioning of all cells. However, too much omega-6 fatty acid can alter cell reactions and harm cells in the heart and blood vessels. Avocado and olive oil are very low in omega-6s, while flaxseed and canola oil are high in omega-3s, so all four of these are good options for you.

Refined Carbohydrates

10 Foods You Should Never Eat if You Have Arthritis- snacks

Many people avoid carbohydrates for one reason or another.  Your body needs carbs to survive, but certain carbs are unhealthy.

When you have arthritis, you want to avoid refined carbohydrates. These carbs are devoid of bran, fiber and nutrients. Some examples are: sweets, white bread, white rice, pastries, pasta, breakfast cereals, sodas and snacks.

Carbohydrates from unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans promote good health by providing vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a variety of essential phytonutrients.


10 Foods You Should Never Eat if You Have Arthritis- baked goods

Gluten has the potential to increase inflammation in the body. While this is more common in those with celiac disease, even those without it may notice a reduction in inflammation and pain associated with arthritis, by avoiding these grains.

Generally, that means you want to avoid excessive intake of gluten-rich foods such as bread, pasta, cakes, pies, crackers, beer or pre-made foods.

However, you also want to make sure you are avoiding heavily modified foods as well. A lot of gluten-free replacements do avoid gluten but will have more sugar or sodium to make them taste better. Make sure you read the full nutrition label before buying something just because it is gluten-free.


Alcohol is another bad option for those with arthritis. Some studies show that it can lead to permanent worsening of symptoms, by causing damage to the joints and spinal cord.

Alcohol can also increase the chances of developing arthritis in the first place, especially osteoarthritis, and can lead to more frequent gout attacks.

High Levels of Sodium

Sodium causes water to be absorbed by your body, which can increase inflammation and pain. Eating unhealthy foods, such as fast food or convenience foods, means ingesting a large amount of sodium a day.

Work on reducing the amount of salt you put in your meals, and the amount of pre-made foods you are ingesting, unless they are specifically low in sodium and salt.

Nightshade Vegetables

10 Foods You Should Never Eat if You Have Arthritis- nightshade vegetables

Nightshade vegetables have a compound in them known as solanine. This may cause arthritis pain in certain individuals by changing their gut microbiota. However, this one is still a little unsure and may vary from individual to individual, as some studies have also shown that it can reduce inflammation.

The consensus now is that if you suspect, or know you have a sensitivity to nightshade vegetables, it is best to avoid them.

Some examples of nightshade vegetables include: potatoes, eggplants, chilis bell peppers, tomatoes.

Heavily Processed Foods

Processed foods are very bad for those with arthritis. This includes a variety of foods, including processed meats, cereal, fast food, and even baked goods.

Many of the things stated earlier can be found in processed foods, including a high amount of sugar, salts, grains, and even preservatives. All of these can be found in processed foods and often multiple of them at once, so it is best to avoid a processed diet whenever possible.

Red Meats

Red meats are high in saturated fats. While other meats or plants can also have these fats, they are much higher in red meats. Saturated fats can increase inflammation in the body, which increases pain and discomfort.

Red meat has been tested a lot and found to harm those with rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory arthritis.

Try to stay away from red meats like lamb, beef, veal, venison, pork, and goat. Instead, substitute them for white meats like poultry or fish.

If you find that the swelling and inflammation are going down, but not as much as you would like, you could try to go for more protein from plant sources.

In addition to foods you should avoid, you may want to look at foods that can help. There are plenty of herbs and foods out there that can reduce inflammation and help with other symptoms of arthritis. Some examples are blueberries, strawberries, garlic, leafy greens and fish.

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I haven’t been able to find a study or facts that saturated fat is bad for you. The list above are foods that are bad for evryone


I think saturated fats are fine. The rest I try to avoid!

Do you put grass finished meat in the same category as feedlot finished meat?

I was with you until the red meats. Oh well, 9 out of 10 isn’t bad.

I believe grass fed meat is good I have rheumatoid atheritis and I eat grass fed organic meat cut all the above no meds

I feed a raw meat diet to 5 of our dogs, so I can tell you everything I read says to feed them GRASS FED meats and wild game to get the best OMEGA 3 and or 3 to 6 ratio for the pets, which means also for US!

I cut the excess fat off my meats, and being a diabetic, I can attribute my high blood sugars to the excess fat on for example, corned Beef, yes a processed, salty red meat, but I eat it maybe twice a year.

Beef tongue, also a very fatty meat on the first half, excessively lean at the last half (end of tongue), I pressure cook 60 minutes with pickling spice and it tastes like corned beef.

More than you wanted to know…

Canola oil? I thought that was not fit for human consumption?

Not fit if GM, which most of it is and if organic is grown near, may have issues with drift…

Canola oil is highly processed and toxic for your body.
It can cause nasty side effects to susceptible people and is generally bad for everyone
Connor’s was developed from rape
Rape seed oil was used only for industrial purposes


yep, venison, goat: very lean meat and both grazers, seldom see goats grain fed before slaughter. Grain feed to produce milk at a higher ratio

I have read the same thing about canola oil in many publications.

If I recall correctly, Sunflower oil is high in omega 3 and I think it is E too.

For dogs: Cooked oil can cause pancreatitis, but raw fat is so healthy when grass fed and is important for healthy coat, overall function, and health.

Cooked oils not so good.

Also, I am one of those people with arthritis DUE TO FOOD sensitivities. Age 66, but first became crippling from pain in the year 2000.

This article is basic, so basic. Says you can turn to vegetable protein sources if meats don’t work out. Well, that would be lentils and dried beans: all of them make me sick now except black beans and chick peas as well as green peas and I can eat green beans, but not more than once a week, and two to three days between eating a relative. OH, I also can eat peanuts.

So this article failed in stating that individuals should be tested, or try the elimination diet, which I did both, to learn I was actually sensitive to all foods after the year 2000 and must be on a rotation diet.

Processed foods: VERY troublesome.

Soy, wheat, cane sugar, COFFEE : in darn near every processed food. All three really make me hurt, lethargic, can’t sleep, burning nerve pain in my hands and leg/foot cramps. One or all symptoms.

Coffee is one of the worst allergens. Caffeine is but I can eat chocolate on rotation diet and tea.

Completely false information on the red meat. Eating Carnavore (just meat)has been shown to help many with arthritis and many other issues. Please stop misleading people with the non sense. It’s the combination of sugars, highly processed foods and seed oils that leads to the inflammation so you were on the right track just went off the rails there at the end. I agree with the previous comments, please update your information. Even the Heart association has quietly removed that cholesterol is bad for you from their website. The “science” is changing or at least is being reported more accurately now. Even Nicole uses a low card diet to manage her MS.

Sorry for the duplicate post. Can’t see a way to delete it or edit it without reposting. Spell check got that last one a few times and I am sending this from my phone so it is hard to proof read it.

Yes and Venison is One of the most healthy lean meats you can eat ! Ask any Cardiologist. Please get you facts in order.

Agreed 👍

I agree with everyone above on the red meat issue… When you are eating, clean, grass fed red meat, you’re eating a superfood in my opinion! Also, clean source saturated fats are amongst the best fats you can eat… butter, coconut oil, ghee, tallow… Mmmm! Gives your body what it truly needs and wants!

I totally agree with William Stephanie Darrin and Doreen Grass fed red meat is good in fact the pain from my arthritis dissipates when I eat red meat

If you had a tick disease it could be very problematic to eat red meat.; I also consider it a comfort food.

Allergies, which are a TOP reason for arthritis, can be genetic. My mom’s mom, her father’s sisters and brothers, all had serious arthritis issues. I was the first to have blood tests after running 3.5 months on a food elimination diet. Nightshade family, WHICH ALSO INCLUDES TOBACCO (not mentioned in the article) and dairy are among my worst, but not so bad I can’t eat them on the rotation diet. They also were for my mom, as well as wheat and coffee. She ate less processed foods (soy in most of them as lectin or vegetable oil) and that greatly reduced her pain in later life.

My sister has MS now, totally wheelchair. Another form of arthritis as is gout.

A crime that the so called specialist MS doctor never ran a food allergy test on my sister when they were trying to find out why she fell to the ground and never walked again…

If you stop eating the food mentioned above, you might as well be dead.

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