One of the worst feelings is waking up in the morning and realizing, even before your feet hit the floor, that you’re going to be dealing with a day filled with joint pain. It’s frustrating because you do your best to eat healthy, you make sure you keep moving (in SPITE of the joint pain) and you use topical pain relievers when it gets bad.
In other words, you’re do everything right, but you’re still suffering.
Well you may be in for a shock. Because it turns out some of the foods you’re eating—even some perfectly healthy ones—could be CAUSING your joint pain. In fact many of the foods we eat every day can contribute to the inflammation that triggers joint pain.
11 surprising foods that can cause joint pain
If you happen to be sensitive to one (or more) of these hidden joint pain triggers you very well be making your pain worse without even knowing it!
Many of us enjoy a cold beer or a glass of wine from time to time. After all alcohol in moderation can be good for your heart. But if you suffer from joint pain you might want to reconsider this “healthy” habit because it could be behind those aching knees, knuckles or big toe.
Yes, big toe. You see alcohol is linked to a specific kind of arthritis called gout that often shows up as intense pain in your big toe. But even if you don’t have gout, alcohol can increase inflammation throughout the body including in your joints. Cutting back on… or eliminating— the alcohol may finally ease your joint pain.
2. Chinese food:
Did you meet up for dim sum? Or order Chinese delivery last night? If so that could be the culprit behind this morning’s joint pain. While more restaurants are getting better about eliminating MSG from their menus, many still make liberal use of this flavor enhancer that can trigger joint pain in folks who are sensitive to it. When ordering Chinese always specify no MSG.
MSG can be hiding in other common foods too. Pay close attention to prepared soups and soup mixes, and even some salad dressings, as well.
3. Diet soda:
Many people stopped drinking regular, sugary soda and made the swap to diet soda years ago. We were all told it was a healthier, perfectly safe alternative. Well it turns out while there are many reasons to ban all diet soda from your menu, those made with aspartame can trigger inflammation and contribute to joint pain.
Since sugary sodas aren’t good for you either, your best bet is to give them up entirely. Craving a fizzy drink? Do your joints (and the rest of your body) a favor and switch to seltzer instead.
4. Frozen vegetables:
We know, veggies are GOOD for you. So how did they find themselves on this list of joint-pain triggering foods? Well it’s not just any frozen vegetable you need to worry about but those increasingly popular versions that come with some sort of (often low fat) sauce. These sauces are often a source of trans fats.
Trans fats, which are hidden inside lots of prepackaged foods from crackers to margarine, can cause joint pain. The good news is that they’re being phased out of all prepared foods, so eventually, this won’t be a problem. For now, though, it’s best to skip the sauce or make your own.
5. Grilled chicken:
We told you some of the foods that cause join pain were going to surprise you! What can be healthier than throwing a chicken breast on the grill?
Unfortunately, foods that are perfectly healthy in other ways can cause joint pain if you’re sensitive to them – and grilled foods fall into that category. The problem isn’t the chicken (or beef or vegetable). The problem is the grilling process itself. Cooking food at those high temperatures creates AGEs, or advanced glycation end products. AGEs increase inflammation, which in turn can trigger joint pain.
If you’re fond of adding a little mayo to your sandwiches, or mixing it into your chicken salad, you might want to look for an alternative. Mayonnaise is high in omega-6 fatty acids which can trigger inflammation, especially if you’re low in omega-3s to balance them out.
And to add insult to injury, omega-6s are also found in many so-called “healthier” oils, like safflower and sunflower. To figure out if omega-6s are behind your aches and pains try eliminating foods high in omega-6 for a few weeks to see if your joint pain eases up. You can also balance out your fatty acid levels by eating more fish and taking a fish-oil supplement.
We’ve warned you about drinking low fat and skim milk before, but in this case it’s any kind of dairy-based milk you might want to avoid. If you’re sensitive to a protein called “casein” milk and other dairy products are likely to cause you joint pain.
Not everyone is sensitive to casein of course. In fact, some folks who suffer from arthritis find milk and dairy to be helpful in reducing joint pain. So it’s best to try a simple elimination diet—removing dairy from your diet for a couple of weeks—to see if you feel better or not.
Even if you’ve cut down on the carbs like we’ve advised, you might still be splurging on a pasta dish from time to time. But if you had pasta last night it could very well be the cause of your tender joints this morning. If you happen to be gluten sensitive the gluten found in regular pasta—as well as any foods made from wheat or other related grains such as rye, oats or barley—could be causing your joint pain.
If you suspect you might be allergic to gluten try a gluten-free diet for a few weeks. These days there are lots of gluten-free options at the grocery store to choose from. If you are sensitive your joint pain…along with a number of other troubling symptoms… should begin to ease up within days.
Sure, fruit in moderation, can be good for you. But sugar of any type—even natural sugars—could be contributing to your joint pain. Sugar creates the same AGEs that grilling food does (see #5), which means it can create the same inflammation and joint pain.
Junk foods like sodas, cookies and cakes are, of course, loaded with added refined sugar. So try reducing ALL sources of sugar and you might find your joint pain shrinking right along with your waistline.
Healthy, delicious, nutritious – and painful. If your joint pain is triggered by any vegetable or fruit found in the nightshade family, tomatoes go from healthy to hurtful.
Try taking tomatoes out of your salads and sauces for a little while and see if your joint pain gets better. If it does, you’ll probably want to avoid eggplant and potatoes, as well.
11. White rice:
Talk about a one-two punch. First, your body treats highly processed white rice and other refined carbs exactly like sugar – which cause joint pain. But then, refined carbs also increase those AGEs we keep talking about. With brown rice, whole grains, and other healthier, versatile and delicious carbs, there’s really no reason to eat refined carbs any longer.
It’s time to stop simply living with joint pain. Now that you know which foods can be hidden joint pain triggers you can take control and finally put those aches and pains behind you.
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