Joint pain refers to discomfort, inflammation and soreness in any of the joints in your body. It is a very common problem, and can occur in anybody, irrespective of age and gender. This kind of pain can be acute or chronic and may be mild or severe, making it impossible to use your joint.
Arthritis and gout are the two main causes of joint pain. It can also result from muscle strains, broken or dislocated bones, bursitis, fibromyalgia, leukemia, and lupus.
Whatever the cause, joint pain can be managed with medication, exercise or alternative medicines. Diet also plays a key role in managing joint pain.
While there are many anti-inflammatory foods like ginger, turmeric and garlic that can help fight pain, there are also certain foods that trigger pain.
If you suffer from joint pain, you need to avoid certain foods that may trigger inflammation and pain.
Here are the top 10 foods to avoid if you have joint pain.
1. Processed and Red Meats
Processed meat and red meat contain chemicals, such as nitrites and purines, that can increase inflammation and pain in the body.
Processed foods are high in toxins called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that can cause inflammation.
Plus, a 2014 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes that a red meat-derived glycan promotes the development of systemic inflammation and cancer progression.
Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in the same year has found the connection between red meat consumption and biomarkers of inflammation.
Try to eat more fresh vegetables and fruits instead of processed meats.
2. Refined and Artificial Sugars
High amounts of sugar also increase the level of AGEs in the body that cause inflammation. In addition, sugar triggers the release of inflammatory agents called cytokines in the body.
Being high in calories, excess sugar intake also leads to weight gain, which puts more pressure on your joints and increases pain.
Sugar-sweetened soft drinks, too, are not good for your body. A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened soda increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women, independent of other dietary and lifestyle factors.
Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages like soft drinks, pre-sweetened cereals, fruit drinks and punches as well as sugar-loaded foods like pastries, candy and snacks.
Instead of refined sugar and artificial sweeteners, opt for natural sweeteners like stevia, honey or blackstrap molasses.
3. Dairy Products
Dairy products can also contribute to joint pain. The high level of protein casein in dairy products triggers inflammation and pain.
According to a report by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, this type of protein may even irritate the tissue around the joints.
Even the saturated fats in full-fat dairy products like milk, butter and cheese can trigger adipose or fat-tissue inflammation, which in turn increases pain.
Avoid pasteurized dairy when suffering from joint pain or any other type of chronic pain. Instead, opt for soy milk, almond milk, tofu, margarine and other non-dairy products. You can even switch to a complete vegan diet.
4. Corn Oil
Corn oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids that may trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism notes that an increase in omega-6 fatty acid intake could potentiate inflammatory processes and exacerbate many inflammatory diseases.
Safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, soy and peanut oils as well as mayonnaise and many salad dressings are also rich in omega-6 fatty acids.
There is no need to entirely eliminate these products from your diet, as omega-6 fatty acids are needed for normal growth and development.
You simply need to consume them in moderation. Meanwhile, increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like olive oil, nuts, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds.
5. Refined Grains and Flour
Refined grains and flour are also pro-inflammatory agents and can increase your joint pain. These high-glycemic index foods trigger the production of AGEs that stimulate inflammation.
A 2013 study published in Nutrients highlights the role of daily consumption of wheat products and other related cereal grains in the manifestation of chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
Moreover, these grains are devoid of fiber and vitamin B and contain empty calories. Regular intake of these products can even increase the risk of degenerative diseases like cancer, coronary heart disease and diabetes.
Instead of refined grain products like white bread, white pasta, and white rice, try whole-grain, almond or coconut flour. Also, swap white rice with brown rice.
Regular intake of eggs can lead to increased swelling and joint pain. Eggs, especially the yolks, contain arachidonic acid that leads to the production of prostaglandins (a kind of lipid autacoids), which trigger inflammation in the body.
Furthermore, eggs contain saturated fat, which also contribute to inflammation and pain.
If you like to eat eggs for breakfast, skip the yolks and use just the egg whites to make your omelet.
7. Whey Protein
Whey protein products may also promote inflammation and joint pain due to the gluten and casein found in them.
Casein is a kind of protein that leads to production of uric acid in the body. Too much uric acid can lead to pain and inflammation in the body, including the joints. Joint pain due to uric acid, known as gout, can be severe and can do lasting damage to the joints.
People who have sensitivity to gluten can suffer from chronic inflammation causing widespread pain. In fact, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry notes that a gluten-free diet reduces adiposity, inflammation and insulin resistance.
Instead of whey protein supplements, opt for healthy sources of lean protein like beans, nuts and seeds.
8. Refined Salt
Refined salt, also known as table salt, is not good for your health, especially if you suffer from joint pain. Refined salt contains additives and chemicals (ferrocyanide and aluminosilicate) to make it free-flowing, but they can throw off your body’s fluid balance.
Furthermore, refined salt does not contain naturally occurring minerals, such as silicon, and phosphorous that your body needs to function properly.
Limiting your refined salt intake may also reduce calcium loss from your bones, thus reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
Reduce your refined salt intake to a minimum and, if possible, switch to sea salt or pink Himalayan salt. Apart from limiting salt in your cooking, you need to keep an eye on processed foods that contain excessive salt and other preservatives to increase their shelf life.
9. Foods containing Monosodium Glutamate
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor-enhancing food additive with preservative properties most commonly found in packaged foods like potato chips, frozen snacks, frozen dinners, canned and frozen chinese foods, store-bought salad dressings, and soups.
MSG can trigger inflammation and pain in the body, including the joints. This artificial additive is very harmful for people who already suffer from inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
As most packaged and frozen foods contain artificial additives like MSG, strive to eat fresh foods prepared at home. Use organic products and avoid artificial flavor enhancers.
Along with MSG, avoid foods containing aspartame, a non-nutritive, artificial sweetener that also triggers an inflammatory response.
Excessive consumption of beer as well as other alcoholic beverages is not good for your joints. In fact, heavy beer drinkers are at a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis as well as gout.
Beer is high in purine that the body converts to uric acid, which can cause inflammation. Also, beer is made with gluten, so it is best to avoid it when suffering from joint pain. Moreover, the other toxins in beer can cause significant harm to your body.
So, try to limit your intake of beer and alcoholic beverages .