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6 Foods And Drinks That Aggravate Arthritis Symptoms


Arthritis stands out as one of the common conditions that affects millions of people worldwide every year. However, the long-term persistence of this condition makes life difficult. It can cause stiffness, pain, and swelling, making simple tasks like walking, writing, and even holding a cup difficult. The pain can be so intense that it affects your mood and overall well-being. It can also limit your mobility, impacting your ability to work, exercise, and enjoy activities you love. 

Some foods can worsen your arthritis symptoms. By just avoiding these food items, you can ease symptoms and improve overall well-being. Let’s spill the beans on the foods and drinks that may worsen and increase arthritis symptoms.


Arthritis pain and its treatment


Added sugar: 

Limiting the consumption of sugar benefits almost everyone, especially people living with diabetes and Arthritis. People who take sugar in large amounts are prone to developing conditions like high blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes, inflammation, etc. Unfortunately, all these conditions increase the risk of heart disease. Therefore, keep an eye on your sugar intake to live a healthy and happy life. 

Following are the foods that hold the added sugar in excessive amounts. If you are someone who eats such foods now and then, it’s high time to reconsider your choices. By cutting down on the following foods, you can prevent arthritis symptoms from worsening and decline your risk of coming across other severe health conditions: 

  • Soda

  • Candy 

  • Ice cream 

  • Barbeque sauce 

  • Salad dressing 

  • Ketchup 

A study conducted on 217 people with Arthritis revealed out of 20 foods, desserts, and sugar-sweetened sodas were highly responsible for aggravating their symptoms. Therefore, eat these food items in a limited amount to be safe. 

Processed and red meats: 

Certain studies show a connection between inflammation and processed meat & red meat. Inflammation, as a result, can worsen and increase your arthritis symptoms. 

People who eat red and processed meat are usually found with higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and homocysteine. These all are the indicators of inflammation. 

A study was conducted to know the effects of red and processed meat on people with Arthritis. As a result of the study, it was found that these food items also worsen the arthritis symptoms. On the other hand, a study found that eating a plant-based diet may improve the symptoms of Arthritis. 

Foods with gluten: 

Gluten comes out as the set of proteins found in various food items like wheat, rye, barley, and cereals. Some studies link gluten with increased inflammation, which may worsen your arthritis symptoms. Healthcare professionals ask people to go gluten-free to improve their arthritis symptoms. 

If you are living with a disease known as celiac, you are more likely to develop arthritis condition than people without celiac disease. If you have this medical condition, you should pay more attention to your health to prevent such conditions. 

A few studies have revealed that following a gluten-free diet can improve inflammation and ease Arthritis symptoms. More research is needed to confirm whether a gluten-free diet helps in easing arthritis symptoms or not. 

Highly processed food: 

Highly processed foods are high in refined grains, preservatives, added sugar, fructose, and other inflammatory ingredients, which may increase and worsen arthritis symptoms significantly. Foods like breakfast cereal, baked goods, and fast foods are a few examples of ultra-processed food. 

Consuming highly processed food items daily increases your risk of developing Arthritis by making you prone to conditions like inflammation and obesity. These two conditions are the main risk factors for Rheumatoid arthritis. 

Eating ultra-processed food items is detrimental to your overall health, including Arthritis. These food items can increase your risk of several other conditions as well.

Specific vegetable oils: 

If you are someone who takes a diet rich in omega-6 fats and low in omega-3 fats, you may encounter severe arthritis symptoms. Fats like omega-6 and omega-3 play several vital roles in the body. However, the imbalance of these fats can contribute to inflammation. 

Good sources of omega-3 are oil fish, green vegetables, oily seeds, etc. On the other hand, you may find omega-6 in the following food items: vegetable shortening, margarine, cooking oils like sunflower and corn, etc.

Working on the balance of these fats can result in improved symptoms of Arthritis. Therefore, kindly keep a check on the consumption of these fats for better overall well-being. 

Foods with high salt component: 

Reducing your salt intake can be advantageous for your overall health, including Arthritis. To cut back on salt, try avoiding the following food items: canned soup, pizza, certain cheeses, processed meats, shrimp, and other processed items. 

A mouse study conducted in 2019 revealed that symptoms of Arthritis were more severe in mice with a diet rich in salt than those with a diet with minimal salt. 

Research showed a connection between high sodium diet and autoimmune diseases like inflammatory Arthritis. Salt stimulates immunological processes that may contribute to inflammation. However, more research is needed to conclude it. 

A study conducted in 2015 states the connection between high sodium intake and high risk of RA. Around 18,555 people participated in this study. 


It is not clear yet whether the consumption of coffee harms or benefits people living with Arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation (AF). Coffee has antioxidant properties that help in reducing inflammation. On the other hand, one with Arthritis must be careful with caffeine content. 

If you are a coffee person, kindly keep the following in mind to reduce negative fallouts:

·  Don’t consume more than 1 to 2 cups of coffee daily 

·  Don’t take coffee near bedtime 

·  Don’t add too much sugar, cream and syrup  

Note: Other drinks that may worsen arthritis symptoms are milk, alcohol, sugar-sweetened drinks, etc.  


If you are suffering from Arthritis, you should opt for a lifestyle and diet that ease your arthritis symptoms. There are certain food items and drinks that aggravate your arthritis symptoms, such as added sugar, red & processed meat, gluten food, some vegetable oils, processed food, salt, coffee, etc. To ease your arthritis symptoms, you should avoid eating these food items. Cutting back or reducing certain foods and drinks can help you a lot to manage arthritis symptoms. 


1. Can alcohol consumption affect arthritis symptoms?

Red wine comprises resveratrol, an antioxidant, which is good for you. However, scientists don’t recommend the consumption of alcohol as it can worsen or increase the risk of arthritis. For instance, taking alcohol increases the uric acid in the body, which, as a result, may lead to gout. More research is needed to know the role of alcohol in arthritis. Hence, if you have arthritis, limiting or cutting off alcohol will result in positive outcomes on your overall health.  

2. Why should sugary beverages be limited for individuals with arthritis?

People living with arthritis should avoid limiting their intake of sugar. In order to cut back on sugar, try to eliminate the following food items: soda, candy, ketchup, ice cream, etc. Sugar increases your risk of developing conditions like obesity, diabetes, inflammation, hypertension, etc., making you prone to serious health complications. By reducing the consumption of these food items, you can prevent your arthritis symptoms from worsening. Several studies reveal that cutting back on sugar will improve your arthritis symptoms. 

3. How does red meat impact arthritis?

C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and homocysteine levels are usually high in people who eat red or processed meat often. All these are the makers of inflammation. As a result, red meat worsens and increases the arthritis symptoms. If you are someone who is suffering from arthritis, you should keep an eye on your red meat consumption. If you continue eating red meat in excess amounts, you are likely to develop some other serious conditions, too. 

Medically Reviewed By:

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B. Pharma

(Dr. A. Sharma, PharmD, is a licensed pharmacist and a medical writer with 10 years of clinical experience. He strives to empower patients to understand their medications so that they become better healthcare advocates.)


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