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A Better Diet Can Lead to Better Pain Management

Before talking about diet and chronic pain, it's important to clarify that a healthy diet cannot relieve arthritis pain on its own. Instead, effective arthritis pain management requires commitment in many areas of life. That said, an anti-inflammatory diet can help provide relief from arthritis pain if paired with other healthy lifestyle changes. And while it's important to eat healthily, it's also important to know which foods make arthritis worse. Read on to learn more about unhealthy foods to avoid in order to optimize your pain management routine.

4 Foods to Avoid That Can Make Arthritis Pain Worse

During flare-ups of arthritis pain, the body is in an inflammatory state. Because of this, any effective anti-arthritis diet must start with eliminating foods known to cause inflammation. But inflammation is not the only dietary side-effect arthritis pain sufferers should look to avoid. Things like fatigue, weight gain, cholesterol and poor circulation can also negatively affect your ability to manage arthritis flare-ups. These four foods all contain ingredients that arthritis sufferers should leave out of their diet.

Avoiding fried foods is crucial for arthritis sufferers

1. Processed or Added Sugars

It's important to understand that not all sugars are bad. You can find naturally occurring sugars like fructose and lactose in fruits and cheeses respectively. These natural sugars can fit into a balanced diet so long as they aren't eaten too often.1

Where arthritis sufferers should be careful is when it comes to processed or added sugar. Foods like candy, chocolate, donuts and pastries, sugary fruit juices, soda, unnatural peanut butter and ketchup all contain high amounts of added, refined sugar. This type of sugar comes from the plant sugar cane, which is chemically processed and added to foods to make them taste better. Processed sugar, commonly known as sucrose, causes the body to release proteins called cytokines, which cause inflammation.2 Too much added sugar can also lead to dangerous weight gain which can put more stress on joints affected by arthritis.

Which foods make arthritis worse?

2. Foods High in Trans Fats Can Make Arthritis Pain Worse

Just like with sugars, not all fats are bad. Certain fats, such as Omega-3 fatty acids can actually lower bad cholesterol and help to reduce inflammation. That said, arthritis and chronic pain sufferers should avoid trans fats at all costs. Trans fats are the result of adding hydrogen into cooking oil. This process, called "hydrogenation",  turns the oil into a solid and prevents it from spoiling.3 And while this process can make for foods with longer shelf lives and convenient cooking in fast-food restaurants, trans fats are very unhealthy.

A diet high in trans fats can lead to chronic inflammation, high cholesterol, an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes as well as weight gain. Fast foods, salty chips and snacks, baked goods made with shortening, cookie dough and margarine all contain trans fats.

Trans fats are very unhealthy

Download the Free Arthritis Pain Management Plan

The Arthritis Pain Management Plan was designed and written with the overall health and well-being of a person suffering from arthritis. The plan includes:

  • Diet and meal plan suggestions
  • Aerobic and strength training exercises
  • Sleep better guide
  • De-stress and mental well-being tips
  • Pain management tips
  • And more!

3. Refined Carbohydrates

We may sound like a broken record at this point, but you shouldn't avoid all carbs. In fact, naturally occurring carbs are quite good for you and should form a major part of your arthritis diet. They are found in fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains such as quinoa. On the other hand, refined carbs are decidedly unhealthy. These "simple" carbs, such as refined grains, have had all of their nutritious aspects stripped away. Examples of refined carbs are foods like white flour, pasta, white rice, instant mashed potatoes, mass-produced cereals and french fries.

Refined carbs heavily contribute to weight gain, which can cause increased pain and discomfort for arthritis sufferers. Not only does this added weight affect the joints, but it also discourages the physical activity needed to boost joint health. Additionally, refined carbs can increase inflammation by producing harmful compounds in the body called AGEs.

Avoid refined carbs to stay healthy

4. Saturated Fats

Though they are not seen quite in the same negative light as trans fats, saturated fats can still be very detrimental to those suffering from arthritis. Found in red meat, butter, palm oil, heavy cream and other dairy products, these fats contain higher amounts of fatty acids. They contribute to the rise of "bad" cholesterol in the blood and can contribute to weight gain. Arthritis sufferers should also be mindful of consuming too much-saturated fat because it leads to increased inflammation in the body's fatty tissue, which can worsen arthritis inflammation.4 Recent studies also suggest that a diet that contains too much saturated fat can weaken cartilage and worsen symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Red meat is a source of saturated fat

Avoid Foods That Make Arthritis Worse

While it can be a difficult condition to deal with, it is possible to manage arthritis pain. Through a combination of a healthy diet, safe exercise and daily pain management tools like DR-HO'S Pain Therapy System, you can craft a lifestyle that isn't defined by your pain. For more information on how to manage arthritis pain, download the Free Arthritis Pain Management Plan.

Note: If you have a health condition or concern, consult a physician or your alternative health care provider. Always consult a medical doctor before modifying your diet, using any new product, drug, supplement, or doing new exercises.

Get More Arthritis Content From DR-HO'S Living Pain-Free Blog:

  1. 6 Unexpected Ways to Help Ease Arthritis Pain
  2. Arthritis: This is Everything You Need To Know
  3. Arthritis Diet: Is There an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
  4. Tips & Tricks for At-Home Arthritis Pain Management
  5. 3 Reasons Why People With Arthritis Should Try Supplements
  6. Arthritis Symptoms: What are the Common Symptoms?
  7. Arthritis Management: How Can I Relieve Arthritis Pain At Home?
  8. A Guide to Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis
  9. 7 Foods to Help Curb Arthritis Pain
  10. Can Supplements Really Help with Arthritis Pain?
  11. 7 Simple Ways to Help Prevent Arthritis at Home
  12. The Ultimate Diet for Joint Pain and Arthritis Sufferers
  13. 3 Reasons Why People With Arthritis Should Try Joint Supplements
  14. Which Foods Make Arthritis Worse?

Get the FREE Arthritis Pain Management Plan


  1. Cancer Treatment Centers of America. "Natural vs. refined sugars: What's the difference?"
  2. Arthritis Health. "In the Kitchen with Arthritis: Foods to Avoid"
  3. Harvard Health Publishing. "The Truth About Fats: The Good, The Bad, and The In-Between"
  4. Arthritis Foundation. "8 Food Ingredients That Can Cause Inflammation"
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