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Do certain foods cause rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms to get worse?

ANSWER

There's no clear evidence that what you eat has any effect on RA. But some people say they feel better when they don't eat certain foods, such as:

Small changes are probably fine. Just don't make big changes -- like cutting out a lot of foods at once or entire food groups -- unless your doctor thinks it's a good idea.

  • Beef, pork, or bacon
  • Wheat or rye
  • Milk
  • Coffee
  • Processed or fast foods

SOURCES:

Arthritis Foundation: "Understanding RA Flares," "Arthritis Flares Are Normal But Still Difficult," "Stress and Worry Affect RA," "Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sleep," "Rheumatoid Arthritis Self-Care," "Track+React."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "RA Flares: What Triggers a Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare?" "Vaccinations for the Arthritis Patient."

Cedars-Sinai: "Lifestyle Modifications."

UW Medicine, Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine: "Stress and Arthritis."

UpToDate: "Patient Education: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis."

Mayo Clinic: "Rheumatoid arthritis: Can diet affect symptoms?" "Rheumatoid Arthritis: Does Pregnancy Affect Symptoms?"

FDA: "Snort. Sniffle. Sneeze. No Antibiotics, Please."

American College of Rheumatology: "Pregnancy and Rheumatic Disease."

CDC: "Rheumatoid Arthritis."

Reviewed by David Zelman on July 22, 2017

SOURCES:

Arthritis Foundation: "Understanding RA Flares," "Arthritis Flares Are Normal But Still Difficult," "Stress and Worry Affect RA," "Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sleep," "Rheumatoid Arthritis Self-Care," "Track+React."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "RA Flares: What Triggers a Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare?" "Vaccinations for the Arthritis Patient."

Cedars-Sinai: "Lifestyle Modifications."

UW Medicine, Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine: "Stress and Arthritis."

UpToDate: "Patient Education: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis."

Mayo Clinic: "Rheumatoid arthritis: Can diet affect symptoms?" "Rheumatoid Arthritis: Does Pregnancy Affect Symptoms?"

FDA: "Snort. Sniffle. Sneeze. No Antibiotics, Please."

American College of Rheumatology: "Pregnancy and Rheumatic Disease."

CDC: "Rheumatoid Arthritis."

Reviewed by David Zelman on July 22, 2017

NEXT QUESTION:

Can overdoing it physically make my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms worse?

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