Red meat. Many cuts of red meat contain high levels of saturated fat, which can exacerbate inflammation and also contribute to obesity. Red meat also contains omega-6 fatty acids, which can contribute to inflammation if your intake is too high. Some people with RA have reported that their symptoms improve when they rid their diet of red meat. However, lean cuts of red meat may provide protein and important nutrients for people with rheumatoid arthritis, without causing additional inflammation.
sugar and refined flour. Your blood sugar levels can surge after you’ve eaten simple carbohydrates that are easily broken down by the body. Such foods include sugary snacks and drinks, white-flour bread and pasta, and white rice. A spike in your blood sugar prompts the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which can worsen your RA symptoms if the inflammation affects your joints. These foods can also cause you to put on the pounds, stressing your joints.
Fried foods. Cutting out fried foods can reduce your levels of inflammation, according to researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Their study, which was published in the 2009 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, reported that fried foods contain toxins called advanced glycation end products, which can increase oxidation in the body’s cells. Fried foods are also high in fat and can contribute to obesity.
Alcohol. The effect of alcohol on rheumatoid arthritis is not clear-cut. Moderate alcohol consumption has actually been shown to decrease the risk for RA and slow its progression, according to a 2012 review of studies published in Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America. A BMJ study published that year had similar findings: Women who drank more than three glasses of alcohol a week had half the risk for rheumatoid arthritis that teetotalers had. However, drinking too much alcohol can cause a spike in the body’s levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), according to research published in Alcohol and Alcoholism in 2009. CRP is a powerful signal of inflammation, and the study’s findings indicate that overindulgence in alcohol could increase inflammation and be detrimental to RA.