Arthritis: Foods and Drinks To Avoid

Arthritis, a chronic condition characterized by inflammation in the joints, can significantly impact the quality of life of those affected. While there are over 100 types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most prevalent, followed by inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis, and gout. The severity of arthritis symptoms can be influenced by various factors, including diet. This article explores the types of food and drink that can exacerbate arthritis symptoms and those that can help alleviate them.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid for Arthritis Management

The image showcases an array of foods and drinks that are generally considered detrimental to health, especially for those managing chronic conditions like arthritis. Featured prominently are items high in added sugars, such as soft drinks, breakfast cereals, and sweet pastries, which can exacerbate inflammation.

Added Sugars

Individuals suffering from arthritis should significantly reduce their intake of added sugars. These sugars are prevalent in a variety of foods such as sweets, soft drinks, and ice cream. Research specifically involving individuals with rheumatoid arthritis has demonstrated that consumption of sugar-laden soda and desserts can often exacerbate arthritis symptoms, potentially leading to increased pain and inflammation.

Red and Processed Meats

Several studies have established a connection between the consumption of red and processed meats and an increase in inflammation, which can aggravate arthritis symptoms. These meats are known to elevate levels of inflammatory markers like interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), and homocysteine in the body. On the other hand, adopting a plant-based diet that excludes red meat has been shown to alleviate symptoms associated with arthritis.


Gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale — has been linked to increased inflammation in susceptible individuals. For those with arthritis, particularly those with a co-existing condition like celiac disease, avoiding gluten may be beneficial. Notably, the prevalence of celiac disease is significantly higher in individuals with autoimmune diseases than in the general population, suggesting a close link that could impact arthritis management.

Ultra-processed Foods

Ultra-processed foods, which include items like fast food, certain breakfast cereals, and industrially baked goods, typically contain refined grains, added sugars, preservatives, and other ingredients that can provoke inflammatory responses. Regular consumption of these foods not only potentially worsens arthritis symptoms but also contributes to obesity, a known risk factor for various types of arthritis.


Alcohol consumption can exacerbate the symptoms of inflammatory arthritis. Studies have shown that alcohol not only increases structural damage in diseases like axial spondyloarthritis — which affects the spinal cord and sacroiliac joints — but also may contribute to increased inflammation and pain.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

A diet high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3 fatty acids can worsen symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is advised to limit foods rich in omega-6 fats, such as certain vegetable oils, and increase the intake of omega-3 rich foods like oily fish to help improve arthritis symptoms.

Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs)

AGEs are harmful molecules formed when sugars react with proteins or fats. They are naturally present in uncooked animal foods and are significantly increased by cooking methods like frying, roasting, grilling, searing, or broiling. High levels of AGEs in the body can lead to oxidative stress and inflammation, which are detrimental in arthritis and can accelerate its progression.

Excessive Salt

Reducing salt intake is generally recommended for health benefits, but it is especially important for individuals with arthritis. A low-salt diet can help reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, decrease cartilage breakdown and bone destruction, and lower levels of inflammatory markers.


Understanding the impact of diet on arthritis can empower those affected to make informed dietary choices that may help manage their symptoms. While it's essential to avoid certain foods and drinks that can exacerbate symptoms, it's equally important to embrace a balanced, nutrient-rich diet that supports overall health and well-being. As always, it's recommended to consult with a healthcare provider or a dietitian before making significant dietary changes.

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The Wellyme Team

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