Arthritis is characterized by inflammation in the joints, which often causes pain, stiffness, and swelling. The levels of inflammation in your body are influenced by a number of factors, including diet. Some foods in particular have been shown to increase inflammation, thus exacerbating arthritis symptoms. To help control your arthritis, here are some foods to limit or avoid.
The oil used for frying often contains omega-6 fatty acids, which have been linked to increased inflammation. Because they’re associated with a number of other health issues, including heart problems, they’re best avoided altogether.
Salt is found in many different foods, but it’s important for people with arthritis to control their consumption. The mineral can increase the body’s inflammatory response, and it’s also been associated with an elevated risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Flavor your food with joint-healthy seasonings, such as cumin, ground pepper, or garlic powder, instead.
Added sugars have a broad range of health risks, ranging from their association with obesity and type 2 diabetes to elevated inflammation. Even low to moderate intake of sugary drinks such as sodas, juices, and sweet teas has been linked to heightened inflammation. If plain water seems too bland, considering adding a fresh wedge of lemon or cucumber slices to give it some flavor.
Moderate alcohol intake can reduce inflammation in certain types of arthritis. For instance, the antioxidants in red wine help to promote joint health in RA with a daily five-ounce serving. Yet, alcohol can also trigger symptoms in other types of arthritis, including gout. If you’re unsure about how drinking could affect your arthritis, it’s best to talk to your rheumatologist.
Red meat is notoriously high in saturated fat, which has been linked to inflammation that leads to joint swelling. Other types of protein, including plant-based sources and poultry, are lower in saturated fats, and thus better for joint health.
High-Fat Dairy Products
Like red meat, full-fat dairy products, including cheese, yogurt, and milk, have high levels of fat. They also typically contain more added sugars than low-fat varieties. Some people with arthritis eliminate dairy from their diets altogether to reduce its inflammatory effects, while others enjoy low-fat options. Low-fat yogurt, in particular, may be worth keeping in your diet, as it contains probiotics which can actually help control inflammation.
Heavily Processed Foods
Heavily processed foods such as refined carbohydrates, candy, lunch meat, and baked goods often have additives that contribute to inflammation. Many are loaded with added sugars or excess salt, and can therefore aggravate arthritis symptoms. Whenever possible, choosing primarily whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein, will be best for controlling inflammation and arthritis symptoms.
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