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Learn how weight loss can decrease the effects of arthritis and help you live a better, more comfortable, life.

Foods You Should Avoid if You Have Arthritis

Arthritic treatment options and plans vary, but did you know food choices can further trigger inflammatory responses and symptom severities? Take control of your diet and rid these foods that cause inflammation in the body.


Arthritis is a condition in which joints become inflamed, potentially leading to sharp pains, swelling, muscle weakness, and fatigue. Although arthritic treatment options and plans vary, food choices can further trigger inflammatory responses and symptom severities. Additionally, a poor diet promotes weight gain, a risk factor for developing arthritis. Take control of your diet and rid these foods that cause inflammation in the body.

Foods to Avoid with Arthritis

Refined Carbohydrates and Sweets
White sugars, flours, and their products (white breads and pastas, cookies, pies, and some cereals) can trigger inflammation in the body. These products are also generally low in fiber. Low-fiber diets have been said to increase C-reactive protein, a substance produced in the liver that respond to inflammation. Choose whole grains, wheat products, and fruits and vegetables to not only increase nutrient and fiber content, but reduce further inflammatory responses in the body.

Sodium is a critical electrolyte for sustaining body processes. Unfortunately, the general population eats too much and may result in water retention and the rise of blood pressure. Individuals living with rheumatoid arthritis are oftentimes prescribed corticosteroids. The medication may cause individuals to feel more significant effects of salt, as corticosteroids cause the body to hold onto sodium more easily.

Trans Fats
Although trans fat will be banned from the food supply by 2018, avoiding its intake until then can reduce obesity and inflammation. Trans fats are found in a wide variety of desserts, prepackaged items, and margarines. Also stay be wary of trans fat disguise words such as "hydrogenated oils" and "hydrogenation."

Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are found in mostly animal products such as beef, pork, milk, butter, and shortening. Although saturated fat sources can fit into a healthy diet, too much can result in inflammation. Choose more monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acid sources, as research shows they can reduce inflammation. Sources include vegetable oils and fish, with salmon, tuna, trout, and herring offering substantial amounts of omega-3's.

In conjunction with Celiac disease, the consumption of gluten can cascade a series of unpleasant and damaging side effects. Inflammation following gluten intake may further accelerate joint pain. Since gluten is found in a wide variety of foods, it is important to confine in a medical professional or dietitian to fill in any nutritional gaps to prevent deficiencies.

Surprising research shows moderate intake of alcohol can actually reduce arthritic risk related to its anti-inflammatory properties. However, it all boils down to the word moderation. Too much alcohol may not only induce a hangover, but trigger inflammation. Alcohol also has interactions with several medications prescribed for those living with arthritis, which could lead to stomach bleeding and ulcers and liver damage.

Also known as mono-sodium glutamate, MSG is a flavor-enhancer commonly found in Chinese dishes and cuisines. Although effects of MSG vary among individuals, its use may intensify arthritic symptoms. Food companies are improving strides to identify whether or not their products contain MSG, specifically on front packaging labeled as "No MSG."

This artificial sweetener is a neurotoxin, a harmful substance that is damaging and destructing to nerve cells. Sensitivities to aspartame vary, but the body may attack it when consumed. Aspartame possibly leading to abdominal discomfort and triggering an inflammatory response. Nutra-Sweet™ and Equal™ are a couple brand names aspartame hinds behind.

Foods to Avoid If You Have Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Available at:

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on June 29, 2016. Updated on February 04, 2019.


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