Though it may cause pain and swelling, inflammation is part of your body’s healing process, activating the cells that repair injuries and fight off infections. However, not all inflammation is beneficial, especially when it lasts too long.
Arthritis means joint inflammation. There are more than 100 conditions that cause arthritis, and most are progressive, leading to chronic pain and disability. There’s no cure for arthritis, but you can slow things down a bit.
At Macomb Medical Clinic in Sterling Heights, Michigan, we practice preventive medicine. Our family medicine practitioner, Dr. Mark Rosenberg, recommends lifestyle changes for arthritis such as weight management, regular exercise, and a balanced diet.
As it turns out, what you eat may improve or worsen your inflammation. Avoiding some of the top offenders may benefit your arthritis. Here are eight inflammation-causing foods that may aggravate arthritis.
1. Sweetened drinks
Sweet drinks are high in calories and added sugar and offer no nutritional value. Drinking too much soda, juice, or sweet tea may lead to weight gain and metabolic changes that trigger inflammation.
Swap out your sweet drinks for plain water or unsweetened herbal tea so you don’t aggravate your arthritis.
2. Foods with added sugar
Added sugar isn’t only in foods that taste sweet. Did you know that salad dressing, tomato sauce, and some breads also contain added sugar?
Though a little sugar is OK, too much may put you at risk of developing health problems like obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. These are diseases linked to chronic inflammation.
Check out the ingredient list on food labels and try to limit items that list sugar or syrup as one of the first three ingredients.
3. Packaged snack foods
Packaged snack foods like chips, cookies, and crackers are highly processed and are generally high in fat, sodium, and added sugar. Your body digests these foods quickly, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar and an inflammatory response.
To limit inflammation, snack on nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole-grain crackers instead.
4. Processed meats
Processed meats like bacon and sausage are high in saturated fat. Research indicates that this type of fat triggers an inflammatory response in the body. These processed foods may also change the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, causing changes to the immune system that can lead to chronic inflammation.
5. Red meat
Like processed meats, red meat is high in saturated fat. Higher intakes of red meat may also put you at risk of developing heart disease or certain types of cancer. Choose meats that have less than 4 grams of saturated fat per serving.
6. Refined carbs
Refined carbs include foods like white bread, sugary cereals, and french fries. Your body treats refined carbs a lot like added sugar, digesting them quickly and causing a rapid rise in blood sugar.
Swap out your white bread and saltine crackers for 100% whole-grain products to prevent spikes in blood sugar and the inflammatory response that follows.
7. Fried foods
Fried foods are a source of trans fat, which is the worst fat for health. Too much trans fat increases bad cholesterol and puts you at risk of heart disease — a condition linked to chronic inflammation that may worsen your arthritis.
Not all fat is bad. In fact, some fats — such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and walnuts — may reduce inflammation.
Alcohol is toxic. It irritates your stomach, taxes your liver, and disrupts your sleep. It may also disrupt the balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria in your gut, which researchers theorize is a contributing factor to chronic inflammation.
When arthritis progresses, it affects every aspect of your life. But you can regain control. Let us help you develop a proactive and preventive approach to managing arthritis. Call Macomb Medical Clinic at 586-315-2393 today.