Foods that Can Make Arthritis and Back Pain Worse

Beyond smoking and an overall diet that can make us obese, there aren't really any foods that can directly cause arthritis and back pain. That being said, there are some foods that can make back pain worse, typically by increasing the release of substances that cause inflammation. Let's take a look at some of the foods that may increase inflammation or back pain.

Red Meat and Shellfish. Typically, red meat and shellfish, when used in moderate quantities, will not cause back pain. In higher quantities, especially for people who have gout, patients with back pain or joint conditions may experience increased stiffness, discomfort, or pain. The cause of gout is the build-up of uric acid in the blood, which forms crystals in large concentrations that can deposit themselves in joints. The toes, especially the big toe of the foot, are the most common part of the body affected by gout, though all the joints could potentially be affected. Gout is most likely to affect patients in the form of joint pain and stiffness, though the high concentrations of uric acid, caused by foods such as red meat and shellfish, can also cause medical problems such as kidney stones and urate neuropathy. The best way to avoid or cure gout is to avoid or minimize foods that cause high levels of uric acid in the blood.



The active ingredient of these red meat and shellfish involved in gout is purine. Other foods high in the substance purine include beer, dairy, kidney meet, sweetbreads, liver, and anchovies. These foods should be avoided for people who have had gout in the past and do not want to experience another outbreak of this painful condition. For those at risk of gout, no more than 5-6 ounces combined of these products should be consumed per day. Need alternatives? Beans, together with other vegetables such as rice, offer a good source of protein, and also provide the body with bone-building calcium and muscle-relaxing magnesium.
  • Cooking and frying oils other than olive oil, including soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils. Generally, olive oils are considered the best of the cooking oils available. Extra-virgin olive oil has olecanthal, a substance that blocks enzymes involved in inflammation, while ingredients of these oils may actually increase the effects of inflammation. These oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which can increase inflammation. These oils may be used in cooking, and may also be in high concentrations in many of the processed foods you eat, including snacks and baked goods. Generally speaking, people with back or joint related issues, or are being challenged with obesity should try to build a diet for themselves that is leaner on processed foods and baked goods, and heavier on fresh foods and vegetables. If using cooking oils, extra-virgin oil is the best.
  • Sugar. Simple and pure sugars are very high in calories and may actually increase inflammation. Although foods that are high in sugar concentrations may actually provide people with a quick pick-me-up and an energy boost, the boost does not last long, and people may actually feel more tired when they come down from the sugar rush. The fatigue that sets in may make it more difficult for back pain sufferers to do the necessary exercises required in their rehabilitation program, or to get to the gym after work. Foods high in sugar can also cause weight gain, a prominent cause of back pain. Alternatives to sugar are sugar substitutes such as Stevia and Sweet and Low, though these substances are controversial, depending on the nutritionists you talk to or the studies you read.
Next, read about 7 foods that help fight arthritis and back pain.