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Avoid These Inflammatory Foods to Ease Joint Pain

foods and inflamation

Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to tissues being injured by trauma, toxins, heat and many other causes. This short-term response is actually healthy. But when inflammation is long term, such as a reaction to arthritis, diabetes and autoimmune disease among other chronic conditions, it can become problematic.

Avoiding foods that can trigger inflammation is especially important for people with these conditions.

“Many people aren’t aware that eating certain foods can cause painful arthritic or diabetic flareups,” says rheumatologist Rebecca Sharim, MD, with LVPG Rheumatology–Hecktown Oaks. “Nutrition can be crucial when battling what is known as systemic inflammation.”

This problem impacts more people than you might think.

“Some estimates indicate more than half of all adults in the U.S. develop at least one chronic condition,” says rheumatologist Alexis Zavitsanos, MD, with Coordinated Health Allentown–1503 N. Cedar Crest Blvd. “And many Americans have more than one condition. These are people who should be aware of what they’re consuming.”

Many foods can trigger systemic inflammation, but there are nine that are particularly concerning. Here is a list from the Arthritis Foundation:

  • Sugar – Studies have shown that sugar, particularly processed sugars, may trigger inflammation in the joints. Sugar can take many forms, and it’s advisable to check food labels closely.
Saturated fats
  • Saturated fats – Traditional American diet staples such as pizza, red meat and pasta dishes can contain saturated fats, which can lead to arthritis inflammation. Saturated fats also can cause heart disease.
  • Trans fats – These are common among fast food favorites as well as processed snacks, doughnuts and several other popular food items. They all can trigger inflammation.
Omega 6
  • Omega-6 fatty acids – Mayonnaise, peanut oil and salad dressing are culprits when it comes to fatty acids, which can stimulate inflammation. However, there are studies that have disputed this.
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  • Refined carbohydrates – Be wary of french fries. Breads, crackers and a variety of cereals that contain refined carbohydrates also can cause inflammation.
Chinese food
  • MSG – Asian foods, particularly those using soy sauce, often contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), which can trigger inflammation. It’s also common in some fast foods, canned soups and salad dressings.
  • Gluten and casein – Many people develop gluten sensitivity, which is commonly found in wheat, barley and rye products. Casein is found in cow’s milk and other dairy products. Most people who struggle with these sensitivities avoid problems with inflammation by staying away from these products.
  • Aspartame – This artificial sweetener, which is common in a wide variety of products, has been known to trigger inflammation. Those who are sensitive to aspartame should check labels and avoid it.
  • Alcohol – Excessive use of alcohol can lead to many problems, including inflammation.

“In general, a healthy diet offers a host of good benefits in the long term,” Sharim says. “But for people with arthritis, diabetes and other conditions, being aware of what you’re eating and avoiding foods that can trigger inflammation can make a world of difference.”

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