• October 2, 2023
  • Dr Peter Landsberg

Last updated on October 2, 2023

What not to eat on an arthritis diet?

Arthritis, a condition characterised by joint inflammation, can be debilitating. Many Australians cope with arthritis daily, and it’s not just about managing pain with medication. Diet plays an integral role in the management of this condition. Some foods can exacerbate arthritis symptoms, whilst others can actually help alleviate them.

In this post, we’ll discover what are the 5 worst foods to eat if you have arthritis.

Why diet is so important if you have arthritis

The age-old saying, “You are what you eat”, rings especially true for individuals with arthritis. The foods you consume can either be a balm or a bane for your inflamed joints. By understanding what are the arthritis trigger foods that can worsen symptoms and inflammation, you can make strides in managing arthritis more effectively.

Your body needs the right fuel to function optimally. When it comes to arthritis, certain foods can cause inflammation or increase pain, while others can reduce inflammation and provide relief.

We explore the top five food culprits to watch out for in the article below.

What are the 5 Worst Foods to Eat if You Have Arthritis?

What are the 5 worst foods to eat if you have arthritis? There are some foods that can increase inflammation, therefore worsening your symptoms of arthritis.

Highly processed foods and sugary treats

A study in 2020 found that people who regularly consumed sweetened drinks had an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Soft drinks and processed foods often contain refined sugars, which may trigger inflammation by the release of cytokines and proteins.

As we know, inflammation can worsen arthritis symptoms. Not only that, but they also contribute to weight gain. Obesity and excess body weight are strongly linked to developing osteoarthritis.

Processed and red meats

Studies have found that processed and red meat intake can cause increased levels of inflammation, worsening joint swelling and symptoms of arthritis.

In comparison, plant-based or vegan diets are full of anti-inflammatory foods and have been found to reduce arthritis symptoms and chronic inflammation.

Foods high in purines

For those people diagnosed with gout, your doctor or rheumatologist may recommend you avoid foods that contain purines. Purines are transformed into uric acid once consumed, and an accumulation of uric acid can lead to a gout flare-up. Foods rich in purine include:

  • Organ meats
  • Beer and other alcoholic beverages
  • Preserved meats like ham, bacon or deli slices
  • Some seafood such as mussels and scallops

Fats and fried foods

Not all fats are created equal. Whilst you do need some good fats, such as avocados, olive oil and nuts, a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids, saturated fat and trans fats can actually worsen inflammation and your overall health. These “bad” fats are often found in butter, cheese, meat, fried foods and processed foods.


Alcohol and arthritis can be a hot debate. Some say it protects against developing arthritis, others say it makes symptoms worse. It has been found that moderate alcohol consumption may reduce inflammation, and therefore your risk of arthritis.

However, once diagnosed with arthritis, you should limit your intake. Alcohol could interact with your medications, cause a gout attack or make your pain worse.

What are the 5 Worst Foods to Eat if You Have Arthritis?

What are the 5 worst foods to eat if you have arthritis? Alcohol can interfere with your arthritis medications, and worsen your symptoms. If you wish to enjoy a cold beverage, it is best to discuss it with your Rheumatologist so you can determine the safest way.

What foods are good for arthritis?

It’s not all about eliminating foods you may love though, there are some delicious (and nutritious) foods that have anti-inflammatory properties and can help alleviate arthritis symptoms:

  • Fatty fish: salmon, mackerel, and trout
  • Green leafy vegetables: spinach, kale, and Swiss chard
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, and flaxseeds
  • Berries: blueberries, strawberries, and cherries
  • Olive oil

Joint pain and diet

Choosing the right foods can be a game-changer for arthritis management. By incorporating an anti-inflammatory diet into your lifestyle and avoiding those that can trigger symptoms and inflammation, you can help reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups and pain.

Our expert team at ArthritisCARE are happy to answer any questions you may have about what foods to avoid with arthritis, and which ones are actually helpful!

How to Contact Us

Enquiries / Appointments

Phone: (07) 3255 1066
Fax: (07) 3521 6780
Email: admin@arthritiscare.com.au


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Dutton Park QLD 4102
For more information please see our contact page.

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Frequently Asked Questions.

What foods help arthritis pain go away?

There are some foods and drinks that have been shown to help manage arthritis symptoms and decrease pain. These can include things like ginger and turmeric which have anti-inflammatory properties. The Mediterranean diet has also been proven to help with chronic diseases and joint health.

What foods make arthritis worse?

There are several foods that can cause weight gain, increase inflammation and worsen arthritis symptoms:

  • Sugary treats
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Foods that are highly processed
  • Drinks with added sugars
  • Purines
  • Alcohol
  • Salty food

What foods are good for arthritis?

There are many foods you can incorporate into a healthy diet to help arthritis pain and decrease inflammation:

  • Fatty fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Green leafy veggies
  • Berries
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids

Dr Peter Landsberg

About The Author

Dr Peter Landsberg

Dr Peter Landsberg practices general Rheumatology with a special interest in inflammatory arthritis and connective tissue disorders. His holistic approach to medicine stems from the 12 years he spent as a GP before studying Rheumatology. On weekends you’ll find him trying (not always successfully) to stay upright on his mountain bike as he rides downhill tracks. Or out on Moreton Bay in his well-used tinnie, fishing with his family and the dog!

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