Are you familiar with that sharp joint pain that hits you right before you put your feet down in the morning? Joint pain can ruin your whole day, you already know that. What’s worse, it’s an early reminder that you are going to have a long, pain-filled day. You may wonder why do you experience joint pain even after all the effort you have put into stopping it? You may have even started an exercise routine coupled with a healthy diet, but the pain won’t go away. In other terms, you are doing everything in your knowledge right. However, you can’t seem to get rid of joint pain.
Surprisingly, the answer might be in what you are eating rather than what you are doing. The diets we think are healthy could contain certain foods that trigger joint pain. Some are completely healthy; hence it may come as a shock. Some of them are foods we eat every day without knowing that they are the enemy. It does not matter how much you exercise and research about if you throw it all away with the wrong foods. So, which foods cause joint pain?

High uric acid in the foods is the main source for joint pain. These uric acids, when ingested crystallize and increase the deposits on the joints and tissues of the body. This, in turn, leads to inflammation. Inflammation, on the joints and tissues, is what causes the pain and stiffness.

After extensive research, here are some of the foods that are contributing to your painful joints. While doing away with them will not end the joint pain completely, it can help you better manage it. Also, some of the foods here have high nutritional value. So, you do not need to eliminate them from your diet completely, but just control its intake.

foods that may cause joint pain and inflammation

Get used to read labels. This is the only way to know what you are putting in your body.


Anything sweet may sound appealing to your taste buds, but your joints will be screaming in pain. Refined sugar is not only dangerous to your health; it also has zero nutritional value. High amounts of sugar expose us to health problems such as diabetes and obesity. Moreover, experts have proved that sugars contribute to inflammation, and you already know what this means.

Refined sugars found in foods trigger the innate immune system. They stimulate the production of proinflammatory cytokines. Once the body produces these cytokines, the anti-inflammatory ones are subsequently lowered. The inflammation of joints and tissues follows. We, therefore, recommend limiting the intake of sweets, pastries, and other drinks and foods with refined sugar content (aka not naturally present). You can opt for fresh fruits if you are craving sugar. So, when you get invited for freshly baked pie next time, listen to your joints!

Dairy Products

Dairy products such as milk are also on the radar when we talk about joint pain. However, there is no definitive answer. It’s mostly clear that saturated-fats-rich food such as cheese and whole milk are considered precursors of inflammation, according to Frank Hu, MD, PhD, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

Dairy products contain a protein called casein. Some people are sensitive to this protein, while some are not. Therefore, if you are in a sensitive category, dairy products can cause severe inflammation. Dairy products are controversial as some people find them useful in reducing joint pain. Yogurt, for instance, contains anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation in some people. However, for some, it’s a pain nightmare. You need to experiment by reducing or eliminating dairy intake to find out the effect it has on you. There are alternatives such as non-dairy milks. But most importantly, you have to make sure you substitute milk for other calcium-rich foods, such as kale, chickpeas or almonds.

Your joints will be screaming in pain from foods containing refined sugars and dairy.

Grilled Foods

Some foods that cause joint pain come as a surprise. What could be healthier than tossing your chicken inside the grill? You may think. Well, Advanced Glycation End (AGE) is a toxin found in grilled, heated, or even pasteurized foods. AGE can result in damage to certain proteins in your body. When this happens, the body tries to break down the AGE’s. This process results in inflammation and so triggering joint pain.


Many people like to come home and unwind with a glass of wine or a beer. Studies show that moderate alcohol is healthy for your body. A Harvard article says that moderate consumption of alcohol could be healthy. But the very same article states that it doesn’t work for everybody. Your joints are among those. Besides, we do not recommend any alcohol consumption.

The yeast used in making beer, for instance, contains high purine levels. These purines lead to the formation of recessive uric, which causes inflammation. Alcohol is also associated with gout, which results in inflammation and joint pain. If you have underlying conditions, you may want to lay back on alcohol consumption.


This one might come as a surprise to you (it did for me at least). Tomatoes are one of those veggies you don’t know how to give up. Especially because of the magic they work on soups and other dishes. These veggies are a healthy source of nutrients needed by your body. However, tomatoes and other nightshade vegetables contain an element known as solanine, which according to some people worsens the pain condition. On the other hand, there are no scientific reports that back this assertion. Therefore, you should test this yourself.

At the same time, some schools of thought believe that tomatoes contain anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce joint pain. Thus, once again, it’s advisable to abstain from nightshade veggies for a while to assess whether that reduces the pain.

If you want to properly test the effect of reducing -or completely eliminating- nightshade veggies from your diet, bear in mind that there are others in this group beyond tomatoes. For example, eggplant, peppers and potatoes are other nightshade vegetables.


Pork is very inviting. Even before you get it completely ready, you will already be salivating. According to Nutrition Advance, pork may be the most affordable cut of meat, but it’s not all good for your joints. Pork contains an omega-3 to 6 ratios of 1:24. And this is quite bad.

A good balance between omega 3 and 6 fatty acids is required to avoid inflammation. In such a case, pork is far from ideal, especially if you are suffering from any condition that may be aggravated by inflammation. You should also know that the omega 3 and 6 ratio that truly matters is the total one, meaning that eating some pork in an omega-3 rich diet might not be a problem. The stress from not eating that little bite of pork might be worse for your joint pain than actually eating it.

grilled foods pork tomatoes bad for joint pain

Grilled foods and night-shade veggies may worsen your pain condition.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Omega fatty acids reduce inflammation and joint pain. In fact, they are highly recommended. What everyone forgets to mention, however, is that too high omega-6 omega-3 ratio is a great contributor to pain in the joints because it causes inflammation in the body.

Instead of using sunflower oil, you should consider walnut or olive oil. These products are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

A good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 is what you need to focus on instead of eliminating the latter from your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are potent in reducing inflammation of joints and tissues. Therefore, increase the intake of omega-3 as you reduce that of omega-6 in your diet.

Diet Soda and Other “Sugar-Free” Drinks

Diet soda, in all of its shapes and forms, is one of the products (it cannot be considered a food) that cause inflammation and joint pain. Although there are other reasons you should ban diet soda from your diet, this should be the first. Diet soda contains an ingredient called aspartame (or other chemical sweeteners) that triggers joint pain. Although you are eliminating the creepy chemicals and high fructose, you are introducing a dangerous sweetener in your body.

The solution, of course, is not to switch back to regular soda. That would not be wise. You can, however, drop diet soda for a healthier alternative (and it’s not fruit juice as this contains high amounts of sugar readily available to be quickly absorbed causing insulin spikes).

Saturated and Trans Fats

Saturated fats are commonly found in fried foods and whole dairy products such as ghee and butter. Baked goods that contain corn oil and fatty cuts of beef also contain saturated fats. are you a number one fan of pizza with extra cheese, now you know what’s causing inflammation in your body.

Trans fats, on the other hand, are majorly man-made. The primary source of trans fats in hydrogenated oils. They can cause health risks such as heart disease and diabetes, apart from causing inflammation and hence severe joint pain.

Feasting on food high in trans fats does not only cause severe joint pain but may also trigger other life-threatening diseases.

Refined Carbs

White flours are quite common with most people. The main issue is that, like sugar, these foods are present in even the most unsuspected products. These carbs are associated with several health problems. They can cause diabetes, heart disease, and they are also associated with excessive weight gain, which takes a toll on your muscles.

Refined carbs are the leading cause of inflammation, resulting in joint pain. Whole grains are a healthier and safer alternative. For instance, you can go with brown rice or brown bread and in addition they are rich in fibers.


Countless foods are causing you joint pain without your knowledge. However, the good news is there are healthier and painless replacements. All that is required is a little action on your side.

Take back control of your health and stop living with pain. Start by making a list of all the products in your kitchen that may cause inflammation and write a non-inflammatory alternative next to it. Take this list with you every time you go for groceries until choosing the right option becomes the default for you.

What are you waiting for? We cannot wait to celebrate your painless journey with you!

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Co-founder of MB Zen, digital nomad and freedom seeker. Loves developing projects that improve people’s lives. Functional training, yoga, and healthy eating define his lifestyle since he got his back injured. Fell in love with Yin yoga from the very first session though he won’t say no to any other kind of yoga.