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Foods to Avoid When You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis

Oct 18

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful autoimmune disease that affects millions of Americans every year. It causes inflammation in joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bones, and even organs such as the lungs and heart.

There are foods that aggravate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, and others that help reduce them. In this article, I'm going to share with you the top foods to avoid when you have RA.

I've compiled a list of foods that will make your life miserable if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. But I also know that there are many other things that can cause inflammation in the body, including food additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and pesticides.

In fact, a lot of people who suffer from RA don't realize they're eating inflammatory foods until they've already developed symptoms.

The truth is, we need to eat anti-inflammatory foods to heal our bodies and prevent further damage.

Here's what to avoid...

man with rheumatiod arthritis in his arm

  1. Sugar - sugar causes an overproduction of insulin, which leads to higher blood glucose levels. This triggers inflammation throughout the body.
  2. Dairy products - dairy contains casein, which is one of the main proteins in milk. Casein has been linked to autoimmune diseases.
  3. Gluten - gluten is another protein found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt. It's been associated with digestive problems, weight gain, and osteoporosis.
  4. Processed meats - processed meats contain nitrites and nitrates. These chemicals may contribute to the development of cancer.
  5. Alcohol - alcohol increases cortisol levels in the body, which can lead to increased inflammation.
  6. Artificial Sweeteners - artificial sweeteners have been shown to trigger obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
  7. Caffeine - caffeine stimulates adrenaline production in the adrenal glands, causing inflammation.
  8. Trans Fats - trans fats are created during the processing of vegetable oils. They can raise cholesterol levels and promote cardiovascular disease.
  9. MSG - monosodium glutamate is used in making Chinese food. It can cause headaches, fatigue, depression, and insomnia.
  10. Soy Products - soybeans are high in estrogenic compounds. Estrogenic compounds can affect thyroid function and cause infertility.
  11. Refined Oils - refined oils include corn oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame seed oil, and olive oil. All of these oils are highly processed and can cause inflammation.
  12. Saturated Fatty Acids - saturated fatty acids are found in animal fat, butter, cheese, cream, eggs, meat, poultry, red meat, and whole milk. They can cause inflammation in the arteries, leading to cardiovascular disease.
  13. Corn Syrup - corn syrup is made from genetically modified corn starch. It's added to soft drinks, candy bars, baked goods, ice cream, and cereals.
  14. Aspartame - aspartame is an artificial sweetener that's commonly used in diet sodas. It's been linked to migraines, seizures, memory loss, and Alzheimer's disease.
  15. High Cholesterol Levels - high cholesterol levels can lead to atherosclerosis, which damages the walls of the arteries.
  16. Preservatives - preservatives are used to extend the shelf life of packaged foods. Some preservatives can cause allergic reactions, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, skin irritation, and hair loss.
  17. GMOs - Genetically Modified Organisms are plants whose DNA has been altered through genetic engineering. GMO crops are widely grown today.
  18. Food Additives - food additives are substances that aren't naturally occurring in food. They're usually added to enhance flavor, color, texture, or appearance.
  19. Pesticides - pesticides are chemical agents that kill insects, weeds, fungi, bacteria, rodents, and reptiles. Many studies show that pesticide exposure contributes to asthma, allergies, autism, ADHD, birth defects, cancer, cognitive impairment, learning disabilities, Parkinson's disease, reproductive disorders, and multiple sclerosis.
  20. Sodium - sodium is a mineral that's essential for maintaining fluid balance. Too much sodium can cause water retention and hypertension.
  21. Salt - salt is a mineral that's needed for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Excessive intake of salt has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, stomach ulcers, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.
  22. Unhealthy Fats - unhealthy fats include lard, margarine, shortening, coconut oil, palm oil, and hydrogenated vegetable oils. They can clog up the arteries and contribute to obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
  23. Antibiotics - antibiotics are drugs that destroy harmful microorganisms. They're given to animals and humans to treat bacterial infections. Overuse of antibiotics has led to antibiotic resistance, which makes some illnesses harder to cure.
  24. Mercury - mercury is a heavy metal that's toxic to the nervous system. Exposure to mercury can lead to tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma, and death.
  25. Vaccines - vaccines are medications that stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against specific germs. Most vaccines contain aluminum hydroxide gel, formaldehyde, thimerosal, and/or squalene.
  26. Chemicals - chemicals are manmade substances that are not natural to the human body. They're used in manufacturing plastics, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, detergents, paints, dyes, gasoline, and pharmaceuticals.
  27. Radiation - radiation comes from radioactive elements like radon gas, uranium, cesium, strontium, plutonium, cobalt, iodine, and thorium. The effects of radiation depend on its type, frequency, and duration.
  28. Cigarettes - cigarettes are filled with nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, arsenic, cadmium, ammonia, cyanide, benzene, ammonia, and formaldehyde.
  29. Lead - lead is a heavy metal that can cause neurological problems, anaemia, abdominal pain, constipation, vomiting, impaired hearing, poor growth, and behavioural changes.
  30. Aluminum - aluminum is a lightweight metal that's commonly used in cooking utensils, drink cans, cookware, and beverage containers. It's also used in antacids, deodorants, toothpaste, and shampoos.
  31. Mercury - mercury is used in dental amalgams, thermometers, barometers, batteries, switches, light bulbs, and fluorescent lights. It can cause developmental delays, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, memory loss, and mood swings.
  32. BPA - bisphenol A is a synthetic compound that mimics estrogen. It's used in plastic bottles, canned food liners, thermal paper, and cash register receipts.
  33. Phthalates - phthalates are used in plastic toys, medical devices, personal care products, and fragrances. They can disrupt hormone activity and cause hormonal imbalances.
  34. PCBs - polychlorinated biphenyls are persistent organic pollutants that were once used in electrical equipment, insulation, lubrication, and paint. They're still found in soil, air, and water.
  35. Formaldehyde - formaldehyde is a carcinogenic substance that's used in embalming fluids, nail polish remover, disinfectant sprays, and mouthwashes.
  36. Dioxins - dioxins are byproducts of industrial processes involving chlorine, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. They're released into the environment by burning coal, wood, garbage, and municipal waste.
  37. DDT - dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane was once used to protect farm workers from malaria. However, it caused severe health problems, including brain damage, liver failure, and breast cancer.
  38. Perfluoroalkyls (PFAS) - perfluoroalkyls are long chain fluorocarbons that are resistant to degradation. They're used in firefighting foam.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, if you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you may find that certain foods trigger painful symptoms. However, there are also many foods that can actually improve your RA symptoms. By avoiding foods that worsen your condition, you can reduce inflammation and pain. On the flip side, by including foods that boost your immune system, you can strengthen your defenses against disease. Here are some foods to avoid when you have RA.