For arthritis, inflammation is the enemy. Any food known to cause inflammation is better avoided unless you want to pay for it later with a painful flare-up. But it’s not just food. Your daily beverages can be the sneaky culprits behind inflammation as well. And because drinks don’t need much in the way of digestion, they can cause a reaction faster than what you eat. That is, quite literally, a pain. However, it can also help you more easily determine which thing it was that caused the flare-up. Not all arthritis sufferers experience these beverages the same way, but it’s important that you experiment with each of them in turn to find out what works and doesn’t work for your arthritis.
Following are the 11 beverages most likely to cause painful arthritis symptoms.
Energy Drinks. Energy drinks top the list because there is nothing good about them. The caffeine is at a level so extreme it has been linked to seizures and heart attacks. Add in several times the amount of sugar found in sodas and you’ve got a drink that is not safe to consume for anyone. When it comes to arthritis, both sugar and caffeine can cause inflammation. Caffeine in particular has been found to trigger gout attacks. Energy drinks are also highly acidic, and some research indicates that highly acidic drinks can strip your bones of necessary calcium and hasten the degradation of joints.
Tap Water. It’s really important to stay hydrated, especially with arthritis. Water helps to lubricate your joints and support basically every process in your body. But tap water, depending on where you live, can contain a whole host of chemicals that may irritate your tissues and cause inflammation. One extremely common example of an inflammatory compound found in tap water is fluoride. The levels may not bother most people, but can potentially trigger a flare-up in people with arthritis. Use a filtering pitcher or a faucet attachment to make sure what you’re drinking is clean and clear.
Tonic Water with Quinine. Quinine was once a popular treatment for arthritis, but the fact is that it just doesn’t work. There are medications similar to quinine, but they are most often prescribed for conditions like malaria when the alternative is death. The amount you’ll find in tonic water simply has no therapeutic effect when it comes to arthritis. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has actually stepped in to limit the legal amount of quinine that can be added to tonic water because in large doses it can cause side effects ranging from dizziness to kidney damage and bleeding problems.
Regular Soda. Soda should be avoided by people with arthritis for the same reasons as energy drinks. They are loaded with sugar, caffeine, and acid. Soda is pretty much guaranteed to cause inflammation. This combination of ingredients can trigger many other bodily ills as well, including weight gain. Being overweight indirectly influences your level of arthritis pain because it forces tender joints to bear more pressure than they should.
Diet Soda. Sorry, but switching to diet soda won’t make the difference if you’re trying to avoid arthritis pain. Artificial sweeteners come with their own side effects, and are just as prone to causing inflammation as refined white sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Artificial sweeteners are chemical products that alter the balance of healthy gut bacteria. This means that the body struggles to metabolize glucose and in response it releases inflammatory cytokines. Normally the good bacteria in your gut can release anti-inflammatory compounds to compensate, but not if you’ve killed it all with fake sugar.
Beer.Beer can be troublesome for several reasons. First, it causes the body to release chemicals called purines when your liver breaks down the fructose it contains. Purines then metabolize into uric acid, the culprit behind gout. Beer also contains gluten, which is highly inflammatory in people who are sensitive to it. And we can’t forget the alcohol, also extremely inflammatory in excess. Let’s look a little further into the effects of alcohol.
Alcohol. A couple of glasses of wine or a mixed drink is usually okay, but definitely skip the gin and tonic. However, if you imbibe to the point of drunkenness, you will set off a chain reaction that can result in quite a bit of joint pain. Hangovers are caused by dehydration and inflammation, two things that throw arthritis sufferers for a major loop.
Fruit Juices. Fruit juice is troublesome in general because it contains a lot of sugar but none of the fiber that you’d get by eating the whole fruit. Fiber slows absorption of sugar and can keep your blood sugar levels steady. The problem for people with arthritis is that juice often contains fructose. As fructose is digested, it creates those purines that later increase the level of uric acid in your body.
Coffee. Coffee is a drink with points on both the pro and con sides. On one hand, it contains antioxidant polyphenols, which greatly reduce inflammation and minimize free radical damage to your cells. On the other hand, it is contains caffeine, is pretty acidic, and is typically doctored with lots of sugar and cream. Experiment with coffee to see if it helps or hurts your condition. In moderation, it could be quite beneficial. But in excess, especially with sugar and cream, the antioxidant benefits of coffee may be wiped out.
Milk & Other Dairy Products. Some people with arthritis may find that a type of protein in milk and dairy products called casein can trigger inflammation. Some types of arthritis may actually force the body to develop antibodies to casein on the mistaken assumption that it is a harmful foreign substance. Those antibodies then spark inflammation which will trouble already tender joints. Fermented dairy products contain less casein and therefore may be more tolerable. This is an area that calls for experimentation, as you may find that dairy doesn’t bother your arthritis at all.
Tomato Juice. Tomatoes have long been categorized as bad for people with arthritis. The reason is that they contain solanine, an inflammatory substance. Solanine is indeed toxic in large amounts, but what you’ll find in a tomato is generally harmless. No scientific connection has actually been found between solanine and arthritis flare-ups. However, commercial tomato juices are positively loaded with salt. It’s best to limit your sodium intake if you have arthritis, especially if you take certain medications. Corticosteroids are commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and they cause greater retention of sodium. While this is our best advice about the drinks it’s best to avoid with arthritis, in the end, you know your body best. Take some time to experiment with these beverages one by one to determine which ones are triggers for you; a food journal can be very helpful to record the results. In the meantime, plenty of fresh, filtered water will help keep your joints lubricated.