Protein & Arthritis

Some research has linked diet and arthritis symptoms, but the exact relationship is still not clear.
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The amount and types of protein you consume may affect the symptoms of arthritis. Protein is made of amino acids and every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies contains protein. Protein is found in most foods in our daily diet including meats, poultry, fish, legumes, tofu, eggs, nuts and seeds, dairy, grains and some fruits and vegetables. Certain foods may affect arthritis by affecting the immune system, causing allergic reactions or by causing weight problems. Research is ongoing, as there are many conflicting opinions as to how diet affects arthritis.


About Arthritis

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There are two main types of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is important to note certain types or amounts of protein may affect each of these types of arthritis differently.

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Gout, a sudden inflammatory arthritis, occurs when there is too much uric acid in the blood and can be made worse by the proteins in some types of meat and fish that are high in purines.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that typically affects older adults and can worsen as a result of excess body weight.

Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory condition that may be aggravated by certain foods, usually affects women and involves multiple joints.

Protein Requirements

Eating a balanced diet is important to maintain your health regardless of your condition. Eating an unbalanced diet can weaken the immune system and cause excess weight gain, both of which can make the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis worse.


According to the experts at Harvard Medical School, the amount of protein you should be eating daily depends on several factors, including your gender, age, weight and activity level. Use this online calculator from the United States Department of Agriculture to easily determine your daily recommended intake, or better yet, speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian about your specific needs.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, consuming more omega-6 fatty acids — which are found in many snack and junk foods — increases the enzymes associated with joint inflammation. The organization suggest a diet with more omega-3 fatty acids found in proteins such as salmon and tuna instead.


Risk Factors

According to the the Arthritis Foundation, the reason obesity and arthritis are linked is because fat cells produce cytokines, which are proteins that can increase inflammation.

In some cases, over-indulgence in certain high-fat proteins might increase your risk for arthritis. For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, certain meats and fattier seafood options may increase the risk and symptoms of gout.



Remember, overeating and a lack of awareness of your diet can be risky. A food journal is a good way to determine if certain foods are aggravating your arthritis. Log the foods you eat and any reactions you may have. If you notice an increase in pain after certain meals, try eliminating those foods for at least a week to see if you improve.

Only your doctor can diagnose arthritis. Once you already have been diagnosed, ask you doctor which foods you should eat and avoid, as different type of arthritis may have different triggers.



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