5 Worst Foods For Arthritis and Joint Pain

(Including a family of vegetables!)

There are estimated to be more than 1.4 million people living with Arthritis or joint pain in New Zealand. Many of them think that this is due to old age, but the reality is Arthritis and joint pain can be caused by our modern lifestyles and diet.

The root cause of joint pain is inflammation. Inflammation in your body can be a good thing - if it’s short-lived. The body’s immune cells purposefully create free radicals to neutralize viruses and bacteria (this is called the inflammatory response).

However, environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and diet can also spawn free radicals in our bodies. Normally, the body can handle free radicals and the inflammation subsides and everything goes back to normal.

Sometimes, especially as we age, our bodies fail to call off the free radicals, so like a button that’s stuck in the “ON” position, free radicals continue to build up in our bodies causing further inflammation and often excruciating pain and cellular deterioration that just won’t go away. This is called chronic inflammation.

“Free radical damage is a powerful determinant of inflammatory joint disease and a prominent feature of arthritic joints.”
American National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Arthritis Foundation

Scientific research has show that if you’re over 50, once inflammation is triggered it’s much less likely to dissipate. Studies have also shown that some of the food's in our diet can cause inflammation, while other can help fight against it.

“When you have arthritis, your body is in an inflammatory state,” according to the Arthritis Foundation. “What you eat may not only increase inflammation, it can also set you up for other chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.”

Five worst foods for joint pain and inflammation.

Refined carbohydrates AKA bread, muffins, pasta & pastries, sodas, snacks, sweets, breakfast cereals.

As far as your body is concerned, there’s not much difference between a bagel and a heaped pile of sugar. In fact, any member of the refined carbohydrate family drives up the inflammation because the body processes it into sugar.

Processed foods

Avoid processed foods such as baked goods and prepackaged meals and snacks. These items contain trans fats, excessive salt and other preservatives to promote longer shelf lives. These trigger systemic inflammation. For some people, excess consumption of salt and trans fats may result in inflammation of their joints. Read labels to avoid preservatives and additives. Less salt may help you manage your arthritis, so avoid prepared meals. Though they’re convenient, microwavable meals are often very high in sodium.

Red meat and fried foods

Meat—especially red meat—is high in saturated fats, which cause high cholesterol and inflammation. On top of this, meat also contains high levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that stimulate inflammation, particularly when meat is cooked by broiling, grilling, roasting, or frying it.

It’s not just BBQed sausages you should avoid, though. Other fried foods such as fish and chips contain trans fats in addition to AGEs.

Vegetable oils

Soybean, corn, peanut, grapeseed and sunflower oils are examples of vegetable oils that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which most of us consume far too much of. Too much omega-6 causes inflammation and inflammation brings free radicals. If your body has lost its ability to call off the free radicals, then you can run into trouble, especially if you’re over the age of 25.

The Nightshade family AKA potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, chillies and peppers.

Nightshades contain trace amounts of alkaloids that can be harmful in heavy concentrations.

Eating nightshade plants can worsen arthritis because of the way they affect calcium metabolism in your body.
These alkaloids may lead to calcium deposits in tendons, ligaments, cartilage and joints contributing to inflammation and joint pain. This effect can be worse for people who already have arthritis.


Now you know the worst foods for joint pain and Arthritis, let's look at the food that helps with joint pain and improves mobility. Include these foods in your diet and you could get you back on your feet, out on the bike, walking the dog or just playing with the grandchildren.