Can certain foods cause or worsen muscle and joint pain?

With arthritis, constant pain and stiffness often cause the body to be in a state of stress or inflammation. Foods that cause joint pain include highly processed foods, red meat, high-sugar foods, fried foods, alcohol, and foods rich in monosodium glutamate, refined carbohydrates, gluten and purines.

Can certain foods cause or worsen muscle and joint pain?

With arthritis, constant pain and stiffness often cause the body to be in a state of stress or inflammation. Foods that cause joint pain include highly processed foods, red meat, high-sugar foods, fried foods, alcohol, and foods rich in monosodium glutamate, refined carbohydrates, gluten and purines. According to the Cleveland Clinic, any sugar added to food increases blood sugar and insulin resistance, all of which contribute to inflammation. Try to eat less than 4 grams of added sugar in any serving of prepared food and don't add sugar to your food or drinks.

According to the VA, omega-6 fatty acids are fats that the body uses for energy. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for inflammation and heart health, but omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation if they outnumber healthy omega-3s. Keep these acids under control by eating healthier omega-3s from fish, nuts, and olive oil. These include carbohydrates that have been stripped of their nutrition and fiber through processing, and they act like added sugar in the body, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

They are digested quickly, so they can increase blood sugar levels and contribute to insulin resistance and inflammation. Processed meats contain nitrites and purines. These chemicals increase inflammation and cause joint pain. Meats such as sausages, corned beef, bacon, and sausages are processed and should be avoided.

Instead, opt for lean, fresh cuts of meat. A study of 217 people with rheumatoid arthritis found that, of the 20 foods, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and desserts were the most common worsening of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms (. In addition, a large study involving nearly 200,000 women associated the regular intake of sugar-sweetened soft drinks with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis (. Some research links red and processed meat to inflammation, which can increase arthritis symptoms.

For example, diets rich in red and processed meat show high levels of inflammatory markers such as interleukin-6 (IL), C-reactive protein (CRP) and homocysteine (5,. The study in 217 people with rheumatoid arthritis mentioned above also found that red meat generally worsened RA symptoms. In addition, a study in 25,630 people found that high consumption of red meat may be a risk factor for inflammatory arthritis (2,. Research suggests that Western diets rich in highly processed foods may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis by contributing to inflammation and risk factors such as obesity (13, 1).

Studies have also shown that alcohol consumption can increase the frequency and severity of gout attacks (17, 18, 19, 20). In addition, chronic alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of osteoarthritis, although not all studies have found a significant relationship (21, 2). Diets high in omega-6 fats and low in omega-3 fats can worsen symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (23, 2). These fats are necessary for health.

However, the unbalanced omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in most Western diets can increase inflammation (2) Reducing the intake of foods high in omega-6 fats, such as vegetable oils, and increasing the intake of omega-3-rich foods, such as fatty fish, may improve arthritis symptoms (2). A study with mice found that arthritis was more severe in mice fed a high-salt diet than in those who followed a diet with normal levels of salt (2). In addition, a study with 62-day-old mice revealed that a low-salt diet reduced the severity of RA, compared to a high-salt diet. Mice that followed a low-salt diet had less cartilage deterioration and bone destruction, as well as lower inflammatory markers than mice on a high-salt diet (2).

Interestingly, researchers have suggested that high sodium intake may be a risk factor for autoimmune diseases, such as inflammatory arthritis (29, 30). A study in 18,555 people linked high sodium intake to a higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis (3). Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are molecules that are created through reactions between sugars and proteins or fats. They exist naturally in raw animal foods and are formed by certain cooking methods (3).

French fries, American cheese, margarine, and mayonnaise are also rich in AGEs) (3.When AGEs build up in large amounts in the body, oxidative stress and inflammation can occur). Oxidative stress and AGE formation are related to disease progression in people with arthritis (33, 3). In fact, people with inflammatory arthritis have been shown to have higher levels of AGEs in the body than people without arthritis. The accumulation of AGEs in bones and joints may also influence the development and progression of osteoarthritis (35, 3).

Replacing foods that are high in AGEs with whole, nutritious foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and fish, can reduce the total AGE burden on the body (3). Other physical therapy techniques can also ease chronic aches and pains), allowing you to improve your exercise regime, lose more weight, and ease more joint and tissue tension. While it doesn't apply to everyone (I recommend keeping a food diary to try to spot patterns in what works well for you), it may be worth avoiding certain fruits and vegetables for a while to see if they affect your joint problems. Research shows that dietary interventions, such as eliminating certain foods and beverages, can reduce the severity of symptoms in people with inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis, as well as improve their overall quality of life.

Excessive amounts of rich, fatty, sugary, or starchy foods can cause your weight to increase, especially if you lead a sedentary lifestyle. Foods that are high in salt include shrimp, canned soup, pizza, certain cheeses, processed meats, and many other processed products. Ultra-processed products, such as fast food, breakfast cereals and baked goods, are often high in refined grains, added sugar, preservatives, and other potentially inflammatory ingredients, all of which can worsen arthritis symptoms. While there are certain foods that contain specific vitamins and minerals that can help naturally soothe joint and muscle pain (such as those rich in magnesium), unfortunately there are other foods that can increase pain and stiffness.

It can be overwhelming when someone simply reads a list of delicious foods that you're no longer allowed to eat, so to help balance this out, I've also included a lot of ideas on what to change them, as well as explanations for why. However, an anti-inflammatory diet that resembles the Mediterranean diet has been useful in treating various inflammatory diseases, including those that cause joint and muscle pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Dorsey says. Overloading these foods can contribute to the accumulation of arachidonic acid, which is inflammatory and doesn't help problem joints. For example, strength training is an activity you can do to build muscle, increase your metabolic rate and help your body burn calories more easily.


Grady Minnier
Grady Minnier

Typical social media aficionado. Subtly charming travel specialist. Infuriatingly humble pop culture nerd. Evil music maven. Subtly charming web scholar. Friendly pop culture guru.

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