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Foods to Avoid with Arthritis

My refrigerator has never been a gourmet’s delight.  I used to pick up whatever I liked at the grocery store.  Now that I am coping with arthritis, the shelves look a lot different.

I’ve ditched an array of favorites that were aggravating my health problems, even if I never realized their effect.

For one thing, I no longer eat sugar. That’s my biggest change, since the American diet is loaded with that sweet stuff under various names: cane juice, sucrose, dextrose, golden syrup, corn syrup, maltose and more.  Sugar has more aliases that career criminals. Sugar substitutes are no better: aspartame, saccharine, sucralose to name a few.

Then, there’s date sugar, coconut sugar, grape sugar and more.

By any name, no one with arthritis should eat it. Sugar causes the body to release cytokines, which act as inflammatory messengers in the body. Arthritis is already inflamed. Sugar makes it worse.

It’s hard to find food without sugar, although the sources are increasing as America ages.  Older folks like us are more likely to have arthritis and less interested in the pain caused by feeding our sugar craving.

Saturated fat is right up there with sugar.  It’s an inflammatory, too, and lurks inside such meats like lamb, pork and beef as well as skin from poultry, cream, butter, cheese and whole or reduced-fat milk.  Many baked goods and fried food come with a heaping helping of saturated fat along with palm oil and coconut oil.  The oils are touted for lacking cholesterol, but they are stuffed with fat.  They are also linked to obesity, heart disease, colon cancer and other rather unpleasant side effects.

Next on the most-unwanted list are refined carbohydrates, better known as processed foods.  That includes white bread, white rice and potato chips.  They prompt the body to release advanced glycation end oxidants that can stimulate inflammation.

Another culprit is corn oil, a common ingredient in our food because it’s cheap.  Corn oil contains omega-6 fatty acids, not the good omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-6 has been tied to weight gain and joint inflammation, just the opposite of what I am looking for to cope with my arthritis.  Other oils with the same omega-6 problems are made from sunflowers, safflowers and soybeans.

Salt is another no-no. Salt causes cells to retain water. So they inflate and enflame. Besides, salt boosts blood pressure.  Arthritis patients who are taking steroids for treatment find that salt stays longer in their bodies, increasing its impact on their health.

Alcohol can become very dangerous when mixed with typical drugs used to fight arthritis.  Liver damage can follow. Also, alcohol is loaded with sugar.

Gout is a type of arthritisUric acid in the blood builds up to form sharp crystals that nestle uncomfortably into joints.   It has been linked to purine, a compound found in shellfish, meats, high-fat dairy foods and beer.  In fact, purine is a common ingredient in commercial alcohol products.

Smoking is also linked to arthritis, so toss them away.  Everyone really should have quit long ago, given that tobacco use is linked to a wide array of very serious health problems.

I have been following my new diet for years.  I feel better, have more energy and have gotten a handle on my arthritis.  My refrigerator doesn’t have any more food in it, but at least the food in there isn’t making my arthritis worse.