Natural Allergy Testing and Treatment

A Diet for Arthritis: Addressing inflammation


When considering a diet for arthritis, both rheumatoid (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA), and what foods are good and bad a great place to start it to address those that either create or reduce inflammation (histamine) in the body.

By reducing the overall level of inflammation arthritic conditions can be improved.

There are three important facts to remember when considering a diet for arthritis:

1. Anti-inflammatory diets are not a one-size-fits-all solution. We are all unique in our make up so what works for one will not work for another. This means it will take some trial and error to find what works for you as an individual.

2. When seeking natural ways to improve your condition it is not a quick, short term fix. It is a lifestyle change that will need to be maintained long term if you wish to continue to experience the benefits.

3. A diet for arthritis is only a part of the process, many also find that moderate exercise will increase the positive effect of diet on arthritis pain.

Toxins in food

It is well known that pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilizers are harmful to us. They interfere with our gut health, and in turn affect our immune system and overall well-being.

In addition, foods that are heated, grilled, fried, or pasteurized will contain toxins called “Advanced Glycation End Products” (AGEs).

These toxins damage certain proteins in the body. To address these AGEs the immune system secretes cytokines which are in themselves inflammatory messengers.

High amounts of sugar in the form of processed grains (white flour, white rice, many breakfast cereals), candies, soda etc will also increase the amount of AGEs in the body. If you like sweet snacks try to use natural, fibre rich fruits such as dates and figs, or use stevia instead of sugars.

Fats and Oils: the Good and the Bad

Omega 6

This is found in corn, canola, peanut, sunflower, safflower, and soy oils, and is healthy in small amounts. However, excessive consumption is detrimental as it is converted into pro-inflammatory chemicals called leukotrienes and prostaglandins.

It is important to be aware that many baked goods, commercial snacks and foods contain corn oil, canola oil and other sources high in omega 6.

Omega 3

Omega 3 has been shown by many studies to be beneficial in reducing inflammation in a number of ways. It inhibits the production of other inflammatory molecules and also triggers the production of anti-inflammatory chemicals.

In particular, Olive Oil contains Oleocanthal, which has properties similar to non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. It contains high amounts of Omega 9, along with some Omega 3 and 6.

Omega 3 can be found in fish, flax, hemp, chia.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are altered by the addition of a hydrogen molecule to increase stability and shelf life.

They are believed to impact inflammation, heart disease, and cause other health problems.

The dangers are becoming better known and they have been removed from many products, but they can still be found in some baked goods, fast-food items, processed snack foods, and many margarines.


Free radicals will cause oxidative stress in our bodies when their number exceeds our ability to process them.

Creation of these radicals is a normal part of metabolism. However, production is increased by some activities such as smoking and consuming certain foods including alcohol, fats that have been heated to high temperature (including fat in meats) and chlorinated water (let your tap water stand for a while before drinking).

High oxidative stress is linked with arthritic conditions, both RA and OA.

The good news is that there are various antioxidants found in foods, these include those below (just a note that chocolate should always be at least 75% cocoa):

  • Allium sulphur compounds: Leeks, onions, garlic
  • Anthocyanins: Red and purple fruits – Eggplant, grapes, berries
  • Beta carotene: Pumpkin, butternut squash, mangoes, apricots, carrots, spinach, parsley, cantaloupe, sweet potato, carrots, kale
  • Catechins: Tea, dark chocolate
  • Copper: Seafood, lean meat, nuts, legumes
  • Cryptoxanthins: Red peppers, pumpkin, mangoes, papaya
  • Flavonoids: Tea, green tea, dark chocolate, onion, apples
  • Indoles: Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower
  • Lignins: Sesame seeds, bran, whole grains, vegetables
  • Lutein: Leafy greens – includes spinach, kale, chard
  • Lycopene: Watermelon
  • Manganese: Seafood, lean meat, nuts, beans, oats, bran, dark chocolate
  • Polyphenols: Thyme, oregano
  • Selenium: Seafood, offal, lean meat, whole grains
  • Vitamin C: Berries, kiwi fruit, mangoes, broccoli, spinach, peppers
  • Vitamin E: Cold pressed vegetable oils, nuts, avocados, seeds, whole grains
  • Zinc: Seafood, lean meat, nuts
  • Zoochemicals: Red meat, offal, fish

An anti-inflammatory diet cuts down or eliminates foods suspected of causing oxidative stress and encourages the consumption of foods rich in antioxidants.

Know what’s in your food

Many foods contain excessive salt (sodium) and other preservatives to promote longer shelf lives. For some people, excess consumption of salt may result in inflammation of the joints. It may be worth trying to reduce your salt (sodium) intake to as modest an amount as is reasonable.

When determining what diet for arthritis works for you, your local Naturopathic doctor, Functional Medicine practitioner or Holistic nutritionist will be able to help you work out which foods aggravate your arthritis and which help to reduce your symptoms.

One to try at home!

You may wish to sample this anti-inflammatory cocktail.. Enjoy!

1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

1 tablespoon grated turmeric

1 stick cinnamon, crushed

1 jalapeno or 1 habanero, diced

1 tablespoon raw honey


In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

Pour into your favourite glass and let sit for 30 minutes.

Add ice or club soda, drink, and enjoy!

Foods to Avoid for Arthritis


Can foods really be a trigger for arthritic conditions? Are there foods to avoid for arthritis?


The saying “We are what we eat..” holds a lot of truth…

Anything that adversely affects our digestion will impact our overall health, our immune system and the level of inflammation in the body.

A 1989 survey of more than a thousand arthritis patients is highlighted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. It found a number of foods that consistently aggravated arthritis symptoms.

There have been many other studies that support their findings.

So What Foods to Avoid for Arthritis?

There is no one size fits all when it comes to foods, so some trial and error is required to discover what works for you. You may wish to avoid all of the following for at least 2 months then add them back in one at time, consuming each one for at least a week before adding the next one.

The following list is not in any particular order.


Any product that contains lactose OR casein (milk protein), so this includes milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice-cream, whey powder etc whether on its own or as an ingredient in prepared goods.


On their own or in baked goods

Wheat and Corn:

In fact the protein in all grains can be inflammatory for some people. You may wish to start with wheat / corn and then experiment with eliminating all grains (including rice, oats, buckwheat etc) for a period.

These are found in bread, pasta, baked goods, muffins, cookies, pastries etc, and also in many prepared sauces, marinades and ready meals, so read the labels or cook from scratch. 


Foods high in sugar can be obvious (white and brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, candy, sodas and pop) but it is also hidden in many foods.

Some examples are fruit, fruit juice and dried fruits (a slice of watermelon can contain the equivalent of 5 sugar cubes, click here to see..); apple sauce; sauces and marinades such as ketchup, teriyaki, BBQ; ready meals; beer, wine and cider; some milk alternatives e.g sweetened, chocolate or vanilla soy milk; and gluten free products which are generally highly processed.


The saturated fat in meat has been linked to arthritis. It may be the fat itself, or the fact that when fat is heated (grilled, fried, baked etc) it contains toxins called “advanced glycation end products” (AGEs), which trigger inflammation.

You may wish to remove all meat or just fatty meat from your diet. 100% grass fed and game meats are generally leaner than commercially produced meats. They also have not been fed on corn.

Night Shade Vegetables:

Tomato, bell pepper, eggplant and potato contain a chemical that is linked to inflammation.

Citrus fruits:

Orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit. For some these can trigger arthritic pain.


Both de-caff and regular coffee have been linked to increased inflammation in the body which can aggravate the symptoms of arthritis.


The alcohol itself triggers inflammation, however, wine in particular creates a lot of histamine in the body and will aggravate arthritis.

Omega 6 oils:

These are converted in the body into pro-inflammatory chemicals. The oils to avoid would include corn, peanut, sunflower, safflower, palm and soy oils. Canola oil is also best avoided as it has been linked to many health concerns. Check labels on ready meals, gluten free products, chips and crackers, dips (humus, baba ganoush etc), sauces, marinades etc and also on roast nuts and dried fruits.

And finally, where possible, choose organic produce that is in its natural state and not processed. Pesticides and herbicides have a detrimental effect on our gut health which in turn impacts our immune system and levels of inflammation in the body.

To find out more about foods to avoid for arthritis book with your Holistic Nutritionist, Naturopathic Doctor or Functional Medicine Practitioner.

An Allergy Test can also help to identify foods that cause inflammation for you.