Arthritis can be an extremely painful and uncomfortable condition to have, and this is especially true when your symptoms begin to flare up. While there are many things that can contribute to flare ups, your daily eating patterns can be one of the main factors.
"People who suffer from arthritis live with the body in an inflammatory state," says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our expert medical board, "so it's important to note that there is not one food or beverage that causes arthritis or arthritis flare-ups. It's more about your overall eating pattern and the foods you eat regularly."
And according to Goodson, one of the worst eating habits for arthritis symptoms is to eat refined or processed sugar on a regular basis.
"Refined or processed sugars top the charts when we talk about inflammation," says Goodson. "Processed sugars can prompt the release of cytokines, which act as inflammatory messengers in the body. So, when eaten regularly, this could exacerbate inflammation or arthritis symptoms."
According to a study by the American College of Rheumatology, foods like spinach and blueberries were reported to help alleviate symptoms in those with rheumatoid arthritis, while sugary things like soda and sweets were said to worsen the flare up symptoms.
Unfortunately, it isn't always a simple task to just get rid of sugar in your diet completely. "The challenge is that processed sugars are found in so many places from cookies and baked goods, to sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and fancy coffee drinks, to breakfast bars and snack foods, and oftentimes, even found in various cooked dishes and sauces," says Goodson.
Thankfully, you have to say goodbye to sugar forever.
"If you have arthritis, does that mean you can never eat sugar? No, but it does mean that you should limit your intake of added sugars and make the predominant focus on your eating pattern nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy and healthy omega-3 rich fatty foods. If sugar pops up here and there in a nutrient-rich diet, it tends to not have the same effect as eating it at almost all meals and snacks," says Goodson.
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