Many joint problems, including arthritis, are caused by chronic low-grade inflammation. The inflammatory response is connected to the body’s immune system, a big part of which is located in the digestive tract. What we eat, and more importantly, what we don’t eat, can play a crucial role in joint pain management. While many foods offer anti-inflammatory properties, there are some that promote joint pain and inflammation.
So, when it comes to long-lasting chronic pain, one important way forward is to eliminate pain- and inflammation-causing foods from your diet. To make it simple for you to remember, we’ve narrowed them down to four basic food groups. By avoiding these foods, you can promote joint health and get relief from many of your joint problems.
Joint pain: Foods to avoid
Sugar. I know it might be difficult to resist chocolate cakes, pastries, sodas, fruit juices, and desserts, but resist you must. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition warns that processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines. These cytokines are predominately produced to regulate the normal inflammatory reactions. However, excessive production of inflammatory cytokines contributes to painful inflammation in the joints. So, cutting down on sugar is a must. But do remember that sugar goes by many names, so look out for any word ending in “-ose,” (e.g. fructose or sucrose) on ingredient labels.
Fats. While certain fats are essential for your health, there are others—saturated fats, omega-6 fatty acids, and trans-fats—that may increase your inflammation and harm your joints. (Get instant pain relief without pills or injections.)
Saturated fats are found in meat, butter, cheese, and other full-fat milk products. The one exception in the saturated fat category is coconut oil. Recent studies show that this plant-based form of saturated fat has anti-inflammatory properties.
The American diet tends to be rich in omega-6s, which can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals. These unhealthy fatty acids are found in corn, safflower, sunflower, soy, and vegetable oil.
Trans-fats are a curse of modern processing. Manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil to extend the shelf life of the oil. You’ll find trans-fats in commercial baked goods, fried foods, and margarine. The basic rule of thumb is to avoid fats that stay solid at room temperature.
Salt. Health experts agree that too much salt is a bad thing. But while most people associate salt with cardiac health, it can adversely affect your joints too. Salt causes your arteries and veins to swell up, resulting in pressure on your joints. People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis might feel this even more because the corticosteroids taken to relieve joint pain cause the body to retain more salt. Recent studies also show that salt adversely affects immune function and promotes chronic inflammation, which may affect your joints.
Alcohol. When it comes to joint pain, alcohol is both good and bad. A moderate amount of alcohol can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the joints and is encouraged—but the keyword is moderate. If taken in large quantities, it can cause liver damage, and the resulting toxicity in the body can and will have a negative effect on the joints. (Avoid these 7 danger signs of a toxic liver.)
I know what you’re thinking. If you do not eat sugar, salt, fat, and even limit alcohol consumption, what are you going to eat and enjoy? Well, sugar can be substituted with honey, maple syrup, agave, and even stevia leaf. For salt, try low sodium alternatives like NoSalt, or season your food with spices and herbs instead. As for fried foods, you always have the option of frying in coconut oil, but I’d advise you keep those fried foods to a minimum. Eating like this might be a little difficult at first, but you’ll soon get used to it and even start liking it. Your joints will get used to being less stiff and pain-free—you’ll like that for sure.
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