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Health and Wellbeing

How Foods Affect Your Arthritis

Emily Trix Carver

Emily Carhan

21st June, 2024

Arthritis is a common condition experienced by roughly 10 million people in the UK. People of all ages can experience arthritis and it is the leading cause of disability. Interestingly, arthritis is not a singular condition, but rather an umbrella term for over 100 forms of joint pain, disease or related conditions.

Some common arthritis symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness. Symptoms may range in severity or come and go, but they can become worse over time.

The most common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, which causes the immune system to attack the joints. Another common form is gout, in which the joints become irritated by a build-up of crystals of uric acid. Other common inflammatory types of arthritis include psoriatic arthritis and spondyloarthropathy.

Arthritis can be caused by genetics, age, injury, infection, lifestyle and diet. We’ve researched some of the worst foods for arthritis, supporting you to reduce symptoms of inflammation and help improve your overall quality of life.

Foods To Avoid For Arthritis

Diets that are high in fat, sugar and salt have all been associated with increased inflammation, which can worsen the effects of arthritis.

The food that we eat has a large impact on our health, so it is important to understand how foods affect arthritis, enabling you to make food choices that are great for your body.

We have shared some of the foods to avoid for arthritis that you may want to look out for and limit in your diet.

Red Meat

Whilst red meat can be a fantastic source of vitamins like B12 and vitamin D, many cuts can contain high levels of saturated fat. This has been known to exacerbate inflammation of the joints which is why it is listed as one of the foods to avoid with rheumatoid arthritis. You could try swapping red meats for lean cuts of chicken, fish or even some plant-based alternatives that are remarkably like the real thing.

High-Fat Dairy

High-fat dairy products like clotted cream, butter, margarine, mayonnaise and cheese often include large amounts of sugars and saturated fats, which have been linked to inflammatory reactions. This puts it on the list of arthritis foods to avoid. These delicious treats should be consumed sparingly, or swapped for low-fat alternatives like yoghurt or kefir which also have great probiotic benefits.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Omega-6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat. It is often found in sunflower and vegetable oils, soybeans, nuts and some meat. While Omega-6 has been linked to inflammation, when eaten in moderation it can be good for heart health and even protect against heart disease. To help moderate intake of Omega-6 fatty acids we would recommend swapping vegetable oils for olive oil and incorporating more fatty fish into your diet, like tuna, mackerel and salmon.


Salt can often be the saving grace of a dull meal, but too much of a good thing could be triggering the effects of arthritis. Research has shown that diets with a higher intake of salt have been associated with greater inflammation and even an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

There are many delicious spices and herbs that have a far superior flavour than salt, try incorporating a dash of onion or garlic powder to elevate your next dish.


When consumed in excess, alcohol can trigger gout and symptom flares. However, when consumed in moderation it has also been shown that alcohol can support joint health to some degree. It is important to keep a regular eye on alcohol consumption for your regular health.

Foods That Help Arthritis

We hope that our list of foods to avoid for arthritis has helped. To help you on your next food shop, it’s important to also know what foods are good for arthritis.

We’ve compiled a few delicious items that you should be eating more of to support your long-term health to help you fight the effects of arthritis:

  • fatty fish (salmon, mackerel and tuna)
  • dark leafy greens
  • nuts
  • olive oil
  • berries
  • garlic and onions
  • green tea
  • ginger
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • grapes

If you have any questions or concerns about your health in relation to arthritis, please contact your GP.

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