Woman eating from fridge. Foods to avoid

7 Foods To Avoid With Arthritis

Sometimes it all gets too much and we need, crave those enticing comfort foods like a bag of salty chips or tub of ice-cream while curling up in front of the latest Netflix series.

Then, we groan with guilt, knowing we probably haven’t done our arthritis symptoms any favours.

So what foods should you avoid if you have osteoarthritis?

South Australian Shark Cartilage values clean and natural alternatives to treating your arthritis pain and stiff joints. There is so much information out there on what to eat and what not to eat, so we’ve compiled a list 7 foods to avoid if you have osteoarthritis.

1. Sugar

Avoid sugar for arthritis

Ah ha, you knew that was coming. Sigh! I know. Oh that sweetness that takes the edge off a day. But it’s the refined sugars that we need to be wary of.

The problem with this kind of sugar is that it triggers the release of cytokines, a group of proteins which can activate inflammation in the body.
(Study) Inflammation is not good for osteoarthritis because it can exacerbate the pain in your joints.

Those alluring items on the supermarket shelves like cookies, cakes and chocolate as well as pasta, peanut butter and salad dressings can be full or refined sugars.

If you’re really keen to kick sugar, check out the I Quit Sugar 8-week program, founded by Australian writer/journalist Sarah Wilson, which has seen 1.8 million quit the sweet stuff and completely transform their bodies, health and wellbeing and lives!

You can still add that sugary buzz to your dishes with natural sugar substitutes such as coconut sugar, honey and maple syrup

2. Salt

Avoid salt for arthritis

Craving salty food? Who doesn’t love to dig into a bag full of salt covered crisps?

These kinds of food products can be full of sodium which can cause cells to retain water, thus aggravating osteoarthritis by a swelling of the joints.
Some salt is necessary in our diet but too much can increase this swelling and worsen pain.

Healthline suggests replacing salt with other flavours that can be just as satisfying such as lemon zest or garlic pepper. 

3. Saturated Fats (Red Meat)

Many of us have grown up in a meat-loving world where throwing some snags and steaks on the barbie every weekend or doing a Sunday roast is just…what we do. While the meat and three veg may seem like a healthy enough diet, research says red meat is linked to inflammation (and thus, arthritis symptoms).

Red meat on a cutting board

Meat contains a harmful compound called AGE (Advanced gylcation end) which can form in foods when exposed to high temperatures such as grilling and frying. This compound in meat, especially when fried, can stimulate inflammation, hence why we’re all warned to avoid fried foods.

Processed meats such as sausages, hot dogs and salami are also full of AGEs and should be avoided

4. The White Stuff

Carbohydrates to be avoided

Carb cravings? All the white stuff we like to munch on for comfort eating such as white bread, pasta and crackers are, unfortunately, not great for arthritis symptoms. These are known as refined carbohydrates (or refined grains) and can trigger a spike in blood glucose levels which increases inflammation in the body.

Healthline recommends going for whole grains instead of white bread. These white refined wheat products also contain gluten which may also worsen arthritis pain.

5. MSG

Chinese food. Avoid MSG for arthritis

MSG (Monosodium glutamate) is a food additive which enhances flavour in many foods but is commonly found in Asian dishes and soy sauce. It’s also very common in many fast foods, salad dressings and deli meats. According to arthritis.org, this chemical “can trigger two important pathways of chronic inflammation, and affect liver health”

6. Alcohol

Before you groan at this one, you may not need to completely give up that glass of red of an evening. According to the Arthritis Foundation, “Red wine has a compound in it called resveratrol, which has well-established anti-inflammatory effects.”

But before you start upping your dose to a bottle a night, most experts agree that excessive alcohol consumption (more than a glass or two a day) can have detrimental effects not just on your arthritis symptoms but your overall health including sleep disturbance, weight gain and depression. In many cases the lack of sleep quality due to alcohol abuse leads to an increase in joint pain.

Drinking alcohol can trigger arthritis

The dehydration caused by alcohol consumption causes a reduction in joint lubrication which in turn aggravates joint pain. According to news-medical.net, our body’s natural nutrient content can be reduced by alcohol which subsequently leads to “suppression of the immune system and aggravation of joint inflammation.”

7. Omega-6

Omega 6 in oils. Arthritis pain

When it comes to the omegas, we need to be careful with how much omega-6 we take in. Omega-6 is found in many oils including safflower, sunflower, peanut and corn oils. It’s also high in most meats and egg yolks. arthritis.org says “Excess consumption of omega-6s can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals.”

It’s best to focus on omega-3, the healthier of the essential fatty acids which is found in foods such as oily fish, walnuts and flaxseeds.

Before you start eliminating all these from your diet, it’s important to speak to a health professional and ascertain your own individual requirements.

Knowing what not to eat is just as important as what to eat. Check out our article on 10 Foods To Soothe Arthritis for some tips on which foods may help reduce your symptoms.

With just a few small (and hopefully not too painful!) tweaks to your eating habits you can start feeling lighter and more freed up.

Start small and notice the difference.


Nick Dale
Nick Dale

Nick is a lover of all things mentally and physically healthy, a personal development geek and trained yoga teacher. With a background as an ESL Teacher, Actor and Writer, communication in its many and varied forms is what keeps him sparked.