Arthritis is a chronic condition of inflammation of the joints. What you eat can make a difference in your pain level, so check out the 5 worst foods for arthritis pain. And exercise for arthritis can help too!

a bowl of sugar and a bowl of flour on a board showing worst foods for arthritis

Arthritis is very common, especially among older people. It can cause disability depending on the location and type. Osteoarthritis is the most common, affecting almost everyone as they grow older. It’s not inflammatory.

The most common types of inflammatory arthritis are psoriatic and rheumatoid. These are considered autoimmune diseases.

Being mindful of what you eat can improve your arthritis symptoms exponentially. Incorporating and removing certain foods can change your life.

Best and worst foods for arthritis

Sugar! Lowering your sugar intake will help your health in so many ways because excess sugar intake can cause and aggravate many health conditions, including arthritis. Sugar sweetened soda and desserts are the main culprit, but there is added sugar in almost everything available to us to eat.

Regular consumption of too much sugar is linked to an increased risk of having arthritis. So look in your cereal, candy, sauces, ice cream, soft drinks, and more. Check the label before you buy something and see how many times sugar is in the ingredients.

You crave it for no reason. It creates addictive behaviors as the body releases endorphins when you eat it. They are your feel-good chemicals. Refined sugar is highly stimulating. Aside from cravings that can’t be filled, it also leads to many health issues including inflammation.

When you eat sugar, it increases your blood glucose. Then, this raises insulin. Once this happens, cytokines are released, telling the body to launch an immune response that attacks cells and causes pain. Kicking sugar will greatly reduce arthritis pain. It’s one of the worst foods for arthritis.

Gluten! Gluten is a protein present in some grains. Barley, wheat, rye, malt, and triticale contain gluten. Studies have linked gluten to inflammation which is bad for arthritis. A gluten-free diet can significantly improve symptoms of rheumatoid and other arthritis conditions.

The majority of gluten is found in wheat which is a staple of the SAD or standard American diet. Gluten is processed into sugars by your body, leading to the release of cytokines just like sugar. So the body actually processes gluten the same way as sugar as it turns into sugar.

Eighteen million people have gluten sensitivity. And that doesn’t even count people who actually have celiac or a gluten allergy.

Nightshades! What in the world is a nightshade? Aren’t vegetables healthy? There are some vegetables that cause inflammation in people with sensitivities. Nightshades include peppers, tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant, tomatillos, and goji berries.

These plants contain alkaloids, which can affect calcium metabolism and absorption. This calcium can be deposited by the body into the soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments as well as your joints causing an inflammatory response.

Processed foods! Fast foods, shelf-stable baked goods, breakfast cereals, and other highly processed foods are bad for all of us. They are high in preservatives, added sugar, and other inflammatory ingredients which aggravate arthritis symptoms. They can also lead to obesity.

These foods are high in trans fats which are known to trigger inflammation. They also raise cholesterol which can lead to heart disease.

Your body is not designed to eat foods that have been processed. Fried foods can take their toll. Even if they don’t have trans fats, they are high in Omega-6 fatty acids which are also linked to inflammation. This is due to the types of oils they are fried in.

Red Meats! Red meats have long been linked to increased inflammation which may aggravate arthritis. But more importantly, the quality of meat you consume is important. Be careful about grocery store meat that has been fed poorly, treated poorly, and processed poorly during the steps it takes to get to you.

If an animal is fed a subpar diet and treated inhumanely in processing, it’s going to be full of chemicals that you don’t want in your body either. So try to get free-range meats, especially grass-fed, which is what a cow should be eating. And look at it for your pork and chicken too.

Sausages, hot dogs, and lunch meat are highly processed just like the other foods listed above, so avoid them as much as you can. And stick with plain, good, well-produced, healthy meats.

Also, be careful about how it’s cooked. Consuming foods with a lot of char that were cooked at high temperatures can produce advanced glycation end byproducts which are harmful to your body.

They are unrecognized by the body so they cause inflammation as a response to these invaders. It not only can cause joint pain and arthritis flare-ups, but it also causes serious problems for people with diabetes.

Sausages and other meats on a grill with lots of char on them

Good foods for arthritis

So what are some good foods for arthritis? What can we eat?


People who consume fish on a regular basis typically have a much lower risk of developing arthritis. Fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, trout, and even canned tuna or sardines provide valuable nutrients, fats, and oils.

The main essential fatty acid found in fish is omega-3, which has been proven to help reduce inflammation. Fish is also the only source of vitamin D in food. It’s one of the best foods for arthritis

Healthy Oil

There are oils that help arthritis patients manage their pain caused by arthritis. Oils provide essential fatty acids, aiding with muscle recovery and regeneration, as well as the ability to help individuals absorb what they need from other foods.

Good oils include olive oil, avocado oil, and grapeseed oils. You only need to take about one teaspoon per day to get what you need. You can add them to salads, smoothies, or just take a spoonful a day. These oils also promote healthier cholesterol levels and heart health.

junky mcdonalds food laid out on a board, burgers, nuggets, fries and other worst foods for arthritis and other health


Cherries have anthocyanin which gives them their red color. It is used to aid with joint pain and swelling. You can consume them in juice form or whole fruits. Make sure there is no sugar added of course.


Not only does this broccoli help prevent swelling, inflammation, and pain, but it is also rich in vitamins A, C, and K, which all help repair cell damage. In addition to these, broccoli contains a compound known as sulforaphane, which studies have indicated may be quite powerful in slowing the progression of osteoarthritis or even preventing its development.

Broccoli also contains calcium, which helps build strong bones, which can help an individual suffering from arthritis. Broccoli is easily added to a diet and will compliment salads, stir-fries, and smoothies.


Garlic can be infused with everything from pasta to meat to help give any meal a richer, more complex taste. Garlic also contains diallyl disulfide. This compound, also found in leeks and onions, has anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces the effects of inflammation-causing cytokines in the body.

Consuming garlic helps individuals fight inflammation, cartilage damage, and pain due. The best option for arthritis patients is fresh garlic picked up in the produce aisle of the grocery store. Bottled garlic might have added preservatives, and the factory processing can reduce the strength of the diallyl disulfide.


Ginger is another common spice to have beneficial effects in reducing the severity of arthritis symptoms. The plant contains shogaol and gingerol, two chemicals that block the pathway of inflammation throughout the body.

There have been some studies indicating ginger is helpful in the reduction of osteoarthritis symptoms. Ginger can be used in savory and sweet dishes. Fresh ginger is also best. You can create ginger tea by boiling a one or two-inch piece of ginger in water for between thirty and sixty minutes.


Spinach is just one of many dark, leafy vegetables that can help arthritis patients manage their condition. Spinach and other dark, leafy vegetables have high levels of antioxidants including vitamins K, C, and A, which protect the body from the process of oxidization.

Through the normal process of energy production, your body creates free radicals, which are harmful byproducts that cause damage to cells. Antioxidants protect the cells from free radical damage. In addition, they have calcium, which helps preserve overall bone health.


Walnuts have health benefits for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Those with this condition have double the risk of developing heart disease as other healthy adults. Researchers have found consuming nuts reduces heart disease risk, and walnuts perform better than any other nuts for this purpose. The majority of nuts have high amounts of unsaturated fat, antioxidants, and fiber, but walnuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. 

Green Tea

Studies have shown green tea contains a compound that can help with managing arthritis symptoms. It is high in antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage. Green tea also contains polyphenols, compounds that reduce inflammation and boost overall immune system health.

There are so many easy steps you can take to reduce your misery with foods for arthritis and reverse its effects. Keeping a clean diet with lots of vegetables and fruit is the foundation for a healthy life. And you can do it even if you hate vegetables.

Now for a joke:

I had a health scare recently…My doctor said I had arthritis, I was so shocked I couldn’t move a muscle… at least I think that’s the reason. Ha ha ha.