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Can Diet Help Relieve Arthritis Pain?

By Meera Oza, M.D., F.A.C.R.

Did you know the foods you eat can have a major impact on your arthritis symptoms? In my 40 years of experience practicing rheumatology, I’ve found that diet is one of the most important parts of your treatment plan to manage arthritis or autoimmune disease.

While food changes alone will not cure your symptoms, it’s important to understand the role diet plays in arthritis and other joint conditions. When my patients combine diet changes with the proper medical treatments, the results can be incredible. Learn which foods to eat and avoid to find arthritis pain relief and prevent disability.

The Connection Between Arthritis and Diet

Research shows what you eat can affect your arthritis symptoms. While there are hundreds of different forms of arthritis and no one diet fits all, everyone can benefit from healthier eating. When your medication isn’t providing solutions, a change in diet can be an effective way to ease joint pain.

Your diet is also important in terms of the relationship between body weight and joint pain. Studies show that overweight individuals are more likely to be diagnosed with osteoarthritis and other joint disorders due to an added strain on the hips, knees, and spine.  

Work With Your Rheumatologist

Changing what you eat should be based on your specific type of arthritis, and you should always talk with a rheumatologist at an arthritis treatment center before modifying your diet. 

If you suffer from an autoimmune and inflammatory form of arthritis, it is important to avoid foods that are known to boost your immune system. However, forms of non-inflammatory arthritis may not be benefitted from these types of dietary changes. 

Arthritis Trigger Foods to Avoid

Certain foods are known to make arthritis symptoms worse. We’ve outlined some of the top offenders here. 

Processed Foods

Make an effort to avoid inflammatory foods, such as refined oil, flour, and sugar. You should also try to avoid foods that have high levels of additives. Processed foods and diet sodas are proven to be high in preservatives, which lead to inflammation.

Sugary Foods & Dairy

High levels of sugar that are found in sweets like soda and candy can increase the risk of inflammation throughout the body. It is also advised to avoid or limit dairy intake. Dairy products typically contain a protein called casein, which triggers inflammation. 

Red Meat & Pork 

Watch out for certain meats, such as red meat and pork, which are also known to cause joint pain flare ups. These meats can be high in fat, which is problematic for your joints.


While seafood is normally considered healthy, certain fatty fish or shellfish can do more harm than good. Seafood can be high in cholesterol and is known to exacerbate symptoms of gout.

Tomato Sauce

It might sound surprising, but tomato sauce can be a sneaky culprit of joint pain. A toxin called solanine can be found in tomatoes and tomato sauce, so it is recommended that you keep your intake to a minimum. 

Refined Carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates in foods like bread, white rice, potatoes and crackers can also worsen arthritis symptoms. Our bodies process these foods into sugar, which leads to inflammation. 

Fatty & Fried Foods

Fatty foods should also be consumed with limitations. While some fats are healthy and beneficial, avoid trans fats in processed and fried food like donuts, french fries and fried chicken.

Healthy Foods to Include in Your Diet

On the other hand, anti-inflammatory foods may help arthritis patients manage their symptoms. Here are the top foods to include in your diet for a pain-free lifestyle.

Foods on the Mediterranean Diet

The “Mediterranean Diet” is a popular choice that is full of anti-inflammatory foods. These include plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and anti-inflammatory fats. Certain fish, dark, leafy greens, and nuts are also known to reduce chronic pain and inflammation in your joints. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help individuals who suffer from inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. In clinical studies, they have shown to reduce morning stiffness, tender and stiff joints. When combined with a type of oral medications known as DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs), results are even greater. 

Plant oils like soybean oil, canola oil, and flaxseed oil are all high in omega-3 and are easy to incorporate into your diet in many ways. Or, you can take a supplement in pill form.

Diet Considerations for Gout

Patients with forms of arthritis such as gout are known to benefit from drinking plenty of water and adding foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat and non-dairy products to their diet. These foods lower the amounts of uric acid in the blood, which in turn prevents frequent gout flare-ups. 

Other Arthritis Treatment Options

Remember, lifestyle and diet changes work best when combined with the proper medical treatments. For example, rheumatoid arthritis IV treatment has proven to eliminate pain for many patients who struggle with joint disease. Infusion for arthritis has many benefits and is known to quickly deliver nutrients to your body and joints. 

Schedule an Appointment Today

If you are still struggling with arthritis pain, there are many different treatment options that can help. The best treatments include a holistic approach combining lifestyle changes and medication. Arthritis and Osteoporosis Treatment Center offers the latest in advanced therapies including arthritis infusion treatment. Let our team of passionate arthritis doctors help you start your journey to better joint health today. 

About Meera Oza, M.D., F.A.C.R.

Dr. Meera Oza has been practicing rheumatology since 1985 in Orange Park and has served the greater Jacksonville area for more than 35 years. She completed her medical school at Lady Harding Medical College in India and finished her internal medicine and Rheumatology training at Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan. She is a fellow of the American College of Rheumatology and is board certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.