Arthritis is a blanket term used to describe inflammation and pain in the joints. There are various types including rheumatoid, psoriatic, and osteoarthritis to name just a few. These conditions may have different names, but if you suffer from one of these types of arthritis, you will know how debilitating the pain can be no matter where it is localized to.
If you have arthritis, you will also know by now that there is no cure. However, there are various treatments available that can provide some relief. These treatments can range from surgery and medications, but sometimes, mother nature is the one that provides the best relief. To quote one of the world’s most renowned figures in the history of medicine, Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
What you are putting in your body could very well be triggering your chronic joint pain and inflammation. While there is no specific diet to follow, there are a few foods that can trigger arthritis.
Here are a few foods you should consider scrapping from your diet:
Eating fried and highly processed foods regularly is one of the main contributing factors for developing obesity and chronic illnesses like heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type II diabetes, and certain cancers. Fast food and refined prepackaged meals are high in trans fats, which are known to stimulate inflammation that can trigger arthritis symptoms and make them worse.
Various studies have shown that cutting down on foods that are high in trans fats or cooked in hydrogenated oils helps to reduce inflammation and improve the body’s natural defenses. Cutting down on junk food also prevents highly oxidant compounds known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs) from forming in the bloodstream.
AGEs are harmful toxins that are formed when foods have been cooked at very high temperatures like during frying, grilling, or pasteurizing. The body’s only defense against AGEs is to produce cytokines or otherwise known as inflammatory messengers to prevent AGEs from causing damage to various proteins in the body, which can result in arthritis or other inflammatory disorders.
Instead of visiting the drive-through, try to cut down on foods that are extremely high in trans fats such as french fries, prepackaged frozen meals, and fried meats. Instead, turn to fresh produce and healthy grains to help keep your AGE blood levels and arthritis in check.
When it comes to sodium, there is a fine line between healthy and unhealthy. Sodium is extremely important for keeping our electrolyte and fluid levels at an optimal level. However, too much sodium can have a very negative impact on arthritis.
There is a strong link between high sodium diets and inflammation in the joints, which can exacerbate pre-existing symptoms especially for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The pain relief medication prescribed for some rheumatoid arthritis patients, which is usually corticosteroids, is also known for retaining more sodium in the body.
If you do suffer from this form of arthritis limiting your salt intake to roughly 1500mg per day can help reduce inflammation.
Omega 6 Fatty Acids
While there is no doubt that Omega fatty acids are needed in order for vital cells, organs, and tissues to function, too much of a good thing can be bad as is the case with Omega 6 fatty acids.
Excessive amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids are known to trigger inflammation, increased blood pressure, blood clots, heart attacks, and stroke.
If you suffer from any form of joint pain or arthritis, it is best to avoid foods that are rich in Omega 6 fatty acids such as baked goods, corn oil, and other polyunsaturated cooking oils.
On the other hand, Omega 3 fatty acids are known to reduce chronic inflammation and improve brain and heart health. Whenever possible, try switching out Omega 6 for Omega 3 rich sources such as salmon, tuna, walnuts, chia, and flax seeds.
Refined Sugar and Sweeteners
Table sugar and artificial sweeteners are one of the main culprits behind some major diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. There is nothing wrong with indulging in a sweet treat every once in a while, but when you eat too much of it, it actually acts as a slow-acting poison, triggering insulin levels to spiral out of control and inflammation levels to spike.
Unfortunately, manufacturers are notorious for sneaking sugar into their products and calling it something else on the ingredient list. If your arthritis tends to flare up after a decadent treat, it may be best to remove refined sugar and artificial sweeteners from your diet and morning coffee altogether.
Much like table sugar, refined carbohydrates wreak the same kind of havoc on your system. Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white flour, white rice, pasta, and baked goods are converted into glucose by the body. Glucose is used to provide the body with the energy it needs to function properly.
However, the process of breaking down these refined carbs into glucose causes a significant amount of oxidative stress to our cells and of course causes our insulin levels to peak. When insulin levels are high and harmful free radicals are attacking healthy cells, the body uses inflammation as a defense, which can cause arthritic symptoms to worsen.
Instead of eating highly refined carbohydrates, instead, switch to unrefined foods such as whole grains like brown rice, spelt berries, and Kamut. When it comes to bread and pasta, always opt for the whole-wheat varieties.
If you are still suffering from chronic inflammation especially after eating carbs, the popular high fat low carb eating plan called the Keto diet is also another option to look into. The restrictive diet requires cutting carbs down to an absolute minimum while increasing the number of healthy fats in your meals. A lot of healthy high-fat foods like nuts and fish are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which as we mentioned before is an anti-inflammatory and other beneficial nutrients that may be able to offer some much-needed relief to painful joints.
Nightshade Fruits and Vegetables
Plants that fall under the Nightshade family including tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, and peppers all contain a chemical known as solanine, which according to research can contribute to inflammation and pain in the joints.
While some experts don’t entirely agree that Nightshade plants are inflammatory, certain people are more sensitive to this chemical than others and as a result, may experience pain in the joints and muscles after consuming these fruits and vegetables.
If you start to notice that your arthritis symptoms are triggered after eating these types of fruits and vegetables, try cutting back on them for a week to see if you feel any difference. If you do feel better, it may be best to cut out Nightshade plants entirely from your diet.