Stop Joint Pain in the Kitchen: Foods That Cause Joint Inflammation

Over 90 million Americans suffer from arthritis, which the National Institutes of Health describes as “multiple conditions that affect the joints, tissues around the joints, and other connective tissues.” Arthritis can cause joint pain and mobility issues, and is a leading cause of disability.

Whether you have been diagnosed with arthritis or your joints just feel stiff and sore, there are some simple steps you can take. For example, try avoiding foods that cause joint inflammation. Today we’re taking a look at what those foods are.

Consider an Elimination Diet

Of course, not all foods that cause inflammation in someone will necessarily present problems for you. So it’s not as easy as simply following a particular diet, becoming a vegetarian or vegan, or eating exactly what your super-healthy spouse consumes. Instead, you’ll need to do some experimentation.

One way to do that is to try an elimination diet. That will help you figure out which foods cause issues in your joints (and the rest of your body!) and which ones make you feel good. In a standard elimination diet, you cut out the usual culprits for about 23 days.

Those culprits are gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, processed food (including fast food), sugar, and alcohol. After the 23 days are up, you can add each of these back into your diet, one at a time. Paying close attention to how you feel after eating a piece of white bread or some cheese will help you identify the foods that trigger inflammation in your body.

Foods That Cause Joint Inflammation

You can approach the problem from a different perspective, too. Start by slowly eliminate the following foods from your daily diet. You will likely find that your joint pain and mobility begin to improve.

1. Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the best foods for joint health. However, experts advise that you steer clear of their unhealthy counterparts, Omega-6 fatty acids. The primary sources of these are corn, peanut, and soy oils, as well as red meats.

To get the heart-healthy benefits of Omega-3s, opt for avocado oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, and coconut oil. If you choose to continue eating meat, you’ll be better off using it as a “condiment” or flavor enhancer. A little lean beef in a veggie-packed stir-fry is a better choice than, say, a steak or chop.

2. Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Also known as “trans fats,” partially hydrogenated oils, or PHOs, are another no-no. That’s because they wreak havoc with your cholesterol levels and your heart health. One easy way to avoid them? Steer clear of processed foods.

That means saying goodbye to margarine, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, anything made with shortening, coffee creamer, and many types of chips and cookies.

Of course, cutting these items from your diet also means that you will be avoiding other unhealthy ingredients. Think artificial colors and flavors, sugar, high amounts of sodium, and preservatives.

3. Fast Food and Fried Food

Foods that come from the drive-thru and the deep fryer are definitely tempting. However, you probably already know that these are two of the worst possible options for your meals and snacks.

In addition to being high in trans fats, deep-fried items and anything that comes from a fast-food franchise (or convenience store, or hot dog cart) are high in sodium. They are highly caloric and offer little to no nutritional value.

4. Sweeteners

Stay away from sugar, too. Refined sugar causes certain proteins, called cytokines, to be released in the body. These are directly linked to inflammation, and therefore to joint pain.

It’s not just white sugar that’s bad for your knees and hips, though. Look out for corn syrup, sucrose, maltose, and fructose. And if you think that artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose (Splenda) are healthy alternatives, think again. These, too, can trigger inflammatory responses — among other dangers.

5. White Carbs

You know how marathoners and other elite athletes will “carbo-load” on huge plates of pasta with a generous side of garlic bread? That’s because these foods cause a spike in blood glucose. Athletes use this source of energy as a performance boost.

The rest of us, however, experience a crash in blood sugar that leaves us feeling more tired and logy than before. Moreover, carbohydrate-rich flour products exacerbate inflammation. If you eat bread, crackers, and pasta, make sure to choose whole-grain versions that may help with joint pain.

These foods may pack a one-two inflammatory punch, as well. The carbs are one culprit; another is the gluten. Gluten, a protein found in some grains, has been linked with symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, and soreness of the muscles and joints.

6. Dairy

Many of us were raised to think of dairy products as wholesome. After all, dairy is rich in the calcium that builds strong bones and teeth. But it’s also just plain rich, and the high levels of saturated fat are notorious for spiking inflammation.

Eat cheese, cream cheese, cream, milk, and butter sparingly. Not all dairy is evil, though. Some dairy products that contain active and live cultures, like yogurt and kefir, are good foods for joint health.

7. Nightshades

Vegetables are all safe and beneficial for joint pain sufferers, right? Not so fast. Unfortunately, some veggies called nightshades contain the chemical solanine. Solanine has been proven to cause inflammation.

Nightshades include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers of all varieties, and white potatoes. Have you successfully purged sugar, white bread, and fast food, and processed snacks from your diet but are still experiencing arthritis symptoms? Consider cutting out these vegetables too.

What Can You Eat to Avoid Inflammation?

What is left for you to eat? Plenty! Some foods that help joint pain include cold-water fish, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, green tea, mineral water, turmeric, and ginger.

It may seem daunting to embark on this nutritional experiment. But remember that not all foods that cause joint inflammation will be verboten for you. Listen to your body and eat accordingly, so that you can live an optimal life of optimal health.

Are you interested in learning more about alternative treatments for your arthritis or other health conditions? Give us a call to learn about the services we provide.

5 Common Reasons for Joint Pain and Symptoms to Look out For

According to the CDC, about one in four adults, or 15 million people, report experiencing severe joint pain.

Joints, which are located where two bones meet, allow bones throughout your body to move. Joint pain and discomfort in your knees, elbows, hips, and shoulders can impact your mobility. In most cases, joint pain is the result of an illness like arthritis or injury.

However, there are numerous reasons for joint pain. By recognizing the common causes and symptoms of joint pain, you can visit a medical professional to get the help you need. Otherwise, you could unnecessarily live your life in pain.

Improve your quality of life by first, discovering the top joint pain causes that may be affecting you.

1. Arthritis

Were you in a sports accident or car crash? Maybe old age is causing wear and tear throughout your body. Regardless of the reasons for joint pain, discomfort can impact your daily function.

One of the top reasons for joint pain is arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA).

Recognizing the cause for your joint pain can ensure you receive the proper treatment.


OA is considered the most common joint disorder in the US. About 10% of men and 13% of women over the age of 60 have symptomatic knee OA.

OA tends to affect the joints you use daily, including your hands, wrists, knees, and hips. This condition occurs when the cartilage that cushions and absorbs shock begins to wear down.

Osteoarthritis occurs as joint damage accumulates over time. One of the main causes of OA is aging.

Past injuries can also cause OA. For example, you might have a previously dislocated joint, torn cartilage, or a ligament injury. When the injury doesn’t heal properly, it can contribute to joint damage.

Poor posture and obesity can also contribute to OA.

Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Common OA symptoms include:

  • Inflammation
  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness
  • Pain

As your OA develops, your pain will become more intense. You might also notice swelling around your joints.

It’s important to recognize the early symptoms of OA as soon as possible. That way, you can learn how to manage your symptom and minimize your pain.

The earliest signs of OA include pain and tenderness. For example, you might experience pain when trying to open a jar of sauce.

Joint stiffness is most common when you first wake up. You might also experience stiffness after sitting at a desk for long periods of time. Other early signs include abnormal sensations, such as grating of the joints.

Your joints might click or crack with movement. Loss of flexibility when bending your joints is common as well.

Make sure to speak with your doctor if you experience these early symptoms of OA.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

RA, on the other hand, can deform your joints over time. Rheumatoid arthritis commonly causes pain and inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s response to illness and injury.

Too much inflammation over an extended period of time, however, can cause chronic pain and certain health conditions.

In time, RA can also cause fluid to build up in your joints. This occurs as your body’s immune system behinds to attack the membrane lining your joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

RA symptoms occur in flares. You might also experience periods of remission when your symptoms disappear for a long period of time.

The most common symptoms of RA include joint:

  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Pain

You might also lose joint function or experience deformities.

As with OA, it’s important to recognize the early signs of RA as soon as possible to begin treatment. Common early signs include fatigue and stiffness in the morning. You might also experience fever, numbness, tingling, or a limited range of motion.

2. Osteoporosis

Over 200 million people suffer from osteoporosis. That includes 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50. This condition causes spaces inside of your bones to increase.

As a result, your bones will begin to lose their strength and density. The outside of your bones will also begin to thin and grow weaker in time.

Patients with osteoporosis are prone to fractures or bone brakes. As one of the most common reasons for joint pain, it’s important to start treatment before you experience a fracture.

Osteoporosis Symptoms

Not all patients experience symptoms during the early stages of osteoporosis. If you do experience symptoms, you might first notice a receding gumline.

Your grip strength will begin to weaken. Meanwhile, your nails will weaken and appear brittle as well.

Does your family have a history of osteoporosis? It can help to speak with your doctor about your risk of osteoporosis. They’ll help you manage your symptoms with an osteoporosis-based diet and exercises for improving bone strength.

3. Tendinitis

Tendons are the cords that connect muscles to bones. However, your tendons can become inflamed, which leads to tendinitis. As a result, you might find it’s difficult to move your joints.

Tendinitis is often caused by repetitive motion (from work or playing a sport). You can also develop tendonitis from old age, injury, or RA.

Tendinitis Symptoms

If you have tendinitis, you might experience tightness, swelling, or a dull ache around the joint.

Make sure to use the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) until you can see a doctor.

4. Lupus

Lupus is an auto-immune condition that causes inflammation.

There’s currently no known cure for lupus. While lupus can affect different parts of your body, it can also cause inflammation in your joints.

Lupus Symptoms

Common symptoms of lupus include:

  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Rashes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Memory loss
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • High fever

The inflammation caused by lupus can cause lung, blood, and kidney complications. Make sure to speak with your doctor before symptoms get worse.

5. Bursitis

Bursitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the fluid-filled sacs around your joints (bursae). When your bursae are inflamed, it can cause pain, discomfort, and limited mobility.

Sports-related activities, an infection, or repeated bending can lead to bursitis.

Bursitis Symptoms

If you’re asking “why do my joints hurt?” make sure to look out for these symptoms of bursitis:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Difficulty bending your arm or leg
  • Difficulty walking
  • Pain when lying on your hip

Let your doctor know you’re experiencing these symptoms along with joint pain.

Discuss These 5 Common Reasons for Joint Pain With Your Doctor

Don’t let these common reasons for joint pain slow you down. Instead, discuss these symptoms with your doctor and get the information and treatment you deserve. They can determine if your joint pain is associated with another condition.

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