5 Surprising Foods That Are Making Your Arthritis Worse - Healthy Living Association

5 Surprising Foods That Are Making Your Arthritis Worse

5 Common Foods Making Your Arthritis Worse (+ healthier options)

Even if you eat healthy, some foods could be messing with your joints. Do you know which common foods that are making your arthritis worse?

Today we’ll go over some of the ingredients that could be hurting your joints. Are these a part of your daily meals?

Why some foods make your joints hurt

While some ingredients have strong anti-inflammatory properties, others do the complete opposite! When you eat the latter, they activate certain physiological reactions that worsen your joint pain.

That’s why salt, sugar, trans fats and other additives cause your body to react and promote inflammation.

Unfortunately, even if you follow a healthy diet, some ingredients are hidden in foods we eat every day. Are you eating any of these on a regular basis?

5 common foods worsening your arthritis

1.      Bouillon cubes

They give flavor to dishes and are wonderful as replacement for old-fashioned chicken, meat or veggie stock. However, bouillon cubes have much more than just spices.

Besides being loaded up with salt AND sugar, they have MSG. This flavor-enhancing additive is short for Mono-sodium glutamate, and is guilty of triggering 2 main inflammatory pathways in your body [4].

Although MSG occurs naturally, foods like bouillon, chips and fast food have way too much of it per portion. Eating it on a regular basis will cause water retention and joint inflammation!

Healthier choice: Try to use sodium-free liquid stock or, to be really sure, just make your own. It’s as easy as throwing together veggie and meat scraps in a boiling pot and letting it simmer for a while.

2.  Coffee creamers

Your daily cup of coffee might worsen your arthritis if you’re adding coffee creamer every time. The store-bought creamers we know and love are full of sugar. Some even have up to 5 grams of sugar per serving! That’s more than 1 full teaspoon, without you even noticing.

According to a paper published by the American Diabetes Association [5], sugar makes your body release cytokines. These proteins shoot inflammatory signals, worsening arthritis pain. Better avoid them!

Healthier choice: Look for a low-sugar creamer that doesn’t list aspartame as a sweetener. Or use milk and honey in your coffee to manage how much sugar you’re drinking.

3.      Diet soda & sugar-free ice cream

So if sugar is a no-no, should you go sugar-free to limit arthritis pain? Well, it depends.

Many products labelled as “sugar-free” have aspartame instead. This artificial sweetener acts as a neurotoxin, and it’s shown to trigger an autoimmune reaction in some humans. While your body is “attacking” the toxin, inflammation spikes and your joint pain will get worse.

Healthier choice: Stick to foods without artificial sweeteners, and try to control the amount of sugar you’re taking every day.

4.      Bottled salad dressing

You might be eating your veggies, but if you’re lathering up broccoli with half a cup of ranch, it might be worse for you.

Bottled salad dressings are full of refined, inflammation-boosting oils made from soy, sunflower and even palm. Even those that state “olive oil” on the front can have those “extras” if you look closely.

Although these oils won’t cause too much inflammation in small portions, taking them on a daily basis (and without even noticing) will add too much Omega-6 to your diet.

Omega-6, like Omega-3, is an important amino acid, but if we take too much of it in relation to our Omega-3 intake, it can lead to chronic inflammation [1]. In turn, this will worsen your arthritis.

Healthier choice: Look for dressings made with 100% olive oil (they’re out there!), or just make your own vinaigrette with oil and vinegar.

5.      Pasta sauce

Not the kind you make, but the store-bought one. Many bottled pasta and tomato sauces are loaded with sugar, even if they’re savory!

In fact, many popular brands at the grocery store have between 6 and 12 grams of sugar for every half-cup. That’s the same amount as a chocolate chip cookie! As we already said, sugar worsens whole-body inflammation, making your joint pain worse.

Healthier choice: To avoid the extra sugar, get crushed tomatoes and use them as sauce, try sugar-free pasta sauce or just make your own at home.

Bonus food: Grapefruit

Surprised to see a fruit on this list? In contrast with other citrus, grapefruit could be interacting with your arthritis meds.

Many of those with rheumatoid arthritis follow a treatment with inmunnosupressants like Restasis (cyclosporine) or Rheumatrex (metrotexate). Grapefruit contains certain components that prevent your body from processing those medications [2]. So, if you’re taking both, you won’t get the benefits of your meds and it can even lead to overmedication.


  1. Hibbeln, Joseph R et al. “Healthy intakes of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids: estimations considering worldwide diversity.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 83,6 Suppl (2006): 1483S-1493S. doi:10.1093/ajcn/83.6.1483S. Available here.
  2. Lilja, Jari J., Kari T. Kivistö, and Pertti J. Neuvonen. “Duration of effect of grapefruit juice on the pharmacokinetics of the CYP3A4 substrate simvastatin.” Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics 68.4 (2000): 384-390. Available here.
  3. Choudhary, Arbind Kumar, and Etheresia Pretorius. “Revisiting the safety of aspartame.” Nutrition reviews 75.9 (2017): 718-730. Available here.
  4. Nakanishi, Yuko, et al. “Monosodium glutamate (MSG): a villain and promoter of liver inflammation and dysplasia.” Journal of autoimmunity 30.1-2 (2008): 42-50. Available here.
  5. Deopurkar, Rupali, et al. “Differential effects of cream, glucose, and orange juice on inflammation, endotoxin, and the expression of Toll-like receptor-4 and suppressor of cytokine signaling-3.” Diabetes care 33.5 (2010): 991-997. Available here.


  1. Celia Pedersen

    December 8, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing this information.

  2. Lucy Ackland

    December 22, 2021 at 7:56 pm

    I take one of your Joint Gummies every evening to
    help me decrease pain in hips and legs during the
    night. I’m so grateful to you for offering these.
    Merry Christmas !

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