5 Reasons Why Sugar Worsens Arthritis + Foods to Avoid

Inflammation is a response of the body towards any external and internal injuries. Inflammation is seen in numerous disease conditions, one such condition being arthritis.

Arthritis is a condition where one or more joints in the body are inflamed. It can affect any joint of the body. It is can be of many different types depending on the mechanism by which it affects the body.

Arthritis afflicted patients experience immense joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. As the disease progresses the inflamed joint affects the joint cells and damage them which further impairs functioning.

Managing arthritis utilizes medications to reduce pain and inflammation along with exercise and physical therapies.

Diet control is a major factor in managing arthritis as it can influence the symptoms. Some types of food can help you in reducing the pain and inflammation whereas others may cause an increase in them.

Sugar is the most used and liked ingredient of most people's diet. It is added to a wide variety of delicacies. Read on to find out how added sugar affects your arthritis health.

List of Names of Added Sugar Found in General Food Products

Sugars are present naturally in foods like milk and fruits. Added sugars are extracted from natural sources and then added to food when they are made.

Added sugars go by many different names, here is a list of those names found in the food labels that can help you identify added sugars in foods items.

  1. Agave nectar
  2. Brown sugar
  3. Cane crystals
  4. Cane sugar
  5. Corn sweetener
  6. Corn syrup
  7. Crystalline fructose
  8. Dextrose
  9. Evaporated cane juice
  10. Fructose
  11. Fruit juice concentrates
  12. Glucose
  13. High-fructose corn syrup
  14. Honey
  15. Invert sugar
  16. Lactose
  17. Malt sugar
  18. Malt syrup
  19. Maltose
  20. Maple syrup
  21. Molasses
  22. Raw sugar
  23. Sucrose

Five Reasons Why Sugar Worsens Arthritis

Sugar worsens arthritis symptoms such as pain.

This is due to the increased inflammation caused by sugars and by giving rise to an oxidation-reduction imbalance in the body.

Sugar is also found to increase the weight which is not recommended in arthritis as it can worsen the pain and disease control.

Lastly, sugar also raises cholesterol levels in the body that causes more inflammation and pain.

Added Sugar Increases Inflammation in Arthritis

Added sugar is found to play a major role in increasing inflammation in the body. It is evidenced by research that sugar has a major role to play in developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Added sugar increases the C-reactive protein and cytokines in the body, which are chemicals that are responsible for inflammation.

Sugar intake increases the insulin secretion in the body, a higher amount of insulin in the body also gives rise to inflammation.

End products derived from the added sugars in the body are found to possess damaging properties. These products tend to accumulate as one gets older and adds on to the body’s inflammation.

Research on animals has shed light on the chemical process that added sugars undergo. These studies reveal that added sugars activate the pro-inflammatory chemicals that initiate inflammation in the body.

What does this mean?
Added sugars are responsible for increasing inflammation in the body through various biochemical processes which worsens arthritis in patients.

Added Sugar Can Increase Oxidative Stress in The Body

Sugar consumption is known to lead to a variety of diseases that are caused by affecting the normal oxidation-reduction (redox) balance in the body.

The derailment of this balance creates oxidative stress within the body. Antioxidants are substances that are essential to maintaining the redox balance.

In similar manner arthritis is also one such condition the redox balance is important and arthritis patients are known to have a lesser level of antioxidants.

Sugar is nothing but glucose, which when metabolized generates reactive oxygen species (chemicals that cause cell damage leading to oxidative stress).

Sugar metabolism in the body created AGE’s (Advanced Glycation End Products) which bring about the oxidative stress in the body.

Scientific data proves that sugar meals increase the antioxidant requirement in the body, failing which oxidative stress is inevitable.

What does this mean?
Arthritis patients are already a victim of higher oxidative stress within the body. The consumption of added sugar can further worsen this stress leading to cellular damage.

Added Sugars Worsen Joint Pain in Arthritis

Pain in joints is a classic symptom in arthritis patients. It can limit them from doing normal day-to-day work causing distress.

Added sugars are connected to pain in the joints. It is one of the items that should be restricted in your arthritis recovery diet.

Research states that increased sugar levels in the body can increase joint pain in arthritis patients. This effect is the result of the increased inflammation and oxidative stress caused by sugar intake.

This effect is well studied and proven through animal studies. However, more studies on arthritis patients are yet to be carried out to prove it and establish the mechanism.

What does this mean?
Added sugar increase the joint pain in arthritis patients by promoting inflammation and increasing the oxidative stress in the body.

Sugar Intake Promotes Weight Gain and Obesity Which Can Worsen Arthritis

Obesity is common among arthritis sufferers and forms a risk factor for the development of arthritis.

Losing weight is one of the therapy goals in arthritis. Added sugar intake is very well associated with obesity and weight gain.

Added sugar makes you crave for food that is deficient in nutrients and high in carbs making your body nutritionally deficit and gain more weight.

According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, added sugars in beverages are the most highly consumed, which is responsible for obesity and weight gain.

Research states that the added sugar can make you obese by increase body fat, muscle fat and liver fat. Therefore, sugar intake can be harmful in arthritis patients by increasing pain and inflammation in the body.

What does this mean?
Obesity is a risk factor and reason for worsening arthritis symptoms. Added sugar is prominent in increasing weight and obesity which can lead to more damage to your body and complicate arthritis management.

Sugar Increases Cholesterol in Your Body Leading to Worsening Arthritis

Increased cholesterol in the body can activate the inflammation pathway in the body. Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that is affected by increased cholesterol in the body.

Added sugars play an important role in increasing your bad cholesterol levels (Triglycerides and Low-Density Lipoproteins/LDL) and decreasing good cholesterol.

A clinical study in arthritis patients and healthy subjects revealed that arthritis patients have a high cholesterol which increases inflammation, reduces joint movements and cause more pain and slow recovery.

What does this mean?
Added sugars increase cholesterol in your body which can increase inflammation in arthritis and worsen its symptoms.

List of Products that Contain Added Sugar and Must Be Avoided

Sugar is added in increasing amounts in food and drinks to improve taste and increase its consumption.

Although, the amount of sugar added in these food items may be exceeding the amounts that it is naturally present in any items.

Increased intake of sugar with food is responsible for its negative effects on health. Sometimes it may creep up in your diet without you noticing. Foods generally need not be sweet in nature to contain added sugars.

Following is the list of food items that contain added sugars. These are the food items that are to be shunned from your diet.

  1. Soft drinks, beverages, and soda: Most of the added sugar intake is through beverages and it must be cut down or switched non-sugar drinks.
  2. Fruit Juices with added sugar: Always check the label for added sugars in fruit juices. Limit fruit juices to 1 cup per day.
  3. Honey: Check your cereals for the content of honey in them.
  4. Sweets (cake, cookies, donut, pie, candies etc.): Forms a major source of added sugar. It must be avoided at all cost.
  5. Chocolate and chocolate products
  6. Sweetened dairy products ( ice cream, yogurt cream spreads etc.)
  7. Tomato Sauce: It contains 10-15 grams of sugar in every half cup
  8. Salad dressings: It contains 3grams per tablespoon of dressing
  9. Ketchup and barbecue sauce: They contain approximately 3.6 to 8 grams of sugar per tablespoon.
  10. Baked beans: It contains 20 grams of added sugar per cup.
  11. Cereals: It contains 10-15 grams per serving
  12. Granola bars: It contains 20 grams sugar per bar.

It is important to know that added sugars do not provide any nutritional benefit at all. It is best to avoid them totally. Refrain from food items that have listed sugar as the first or second ingredient.

Added sugars may be present in any food items that you buy. Therefore, it is best to check the labels for the type of sugars mentioned above before you make a purchase.


Dietary sugar is a major part of most people’s diet.

It is available in many different types and added to various food items. Sugar can be damaging to your health in numerous ways.

Arthritis is a disease that is affected by the food you eat. When some foods can reduce the inflammation and pain others can worsen them. Added sugar foods fall in the list of the latter.

Sugar intake increases inflammation and is responsible for increased oxidative stress in the body. These two factors contribute to increased joint pain in arthritis patients.

Added sugars also lead to weight gain and increased cholesterol in the body that further affects the management of arthritis.

The rising amount of supermarket food products makes it a great challenge to stay away from added sugars. Selecting your food items with caution can save you plenty of health problems and improve your arthritis symptoms.

Added sugar does not provide any nutritional benefits to the body. Moreover, damages the body and worsens the condition of arthritis patients.

Added sugars must be one of the diet restrictions that are to be made by arthritis patients. This remedy can reduce a lot of your symptoms and prevent worsening of arthritis.

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