How Does Sugar Affect RA?

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Unhealthy, saturated fats

Saturated fats are bad for your rheumatoid arthritis (RA) prognosis. They can worsen your RA symptoms since they triggers fat-tissue (adipose) inflammation to form. This fat-tissue inflammation is also the main indicator for heart disease.


In the average American diet, cheese and pizza are the highest sources of saturated fats. Other common culprits are full-fat dairy products, meat product (particularly some made with red meat), and pasta dishes.

To keep safe, try to eat more unsaturated fats (such as avocados, soybean, olive oil, and salmon). The amounts of your dietary unsaturated fats a day should be higher than your dietary saturated fats. Restrict also trans-fat, typically found in baked and fried foods made with shortening /partially hydrogenated oils such as cookies, donuts, or most stick margarines.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

When you hear the words ‘omega fatty acids’, the first thing that comes in your mind may be ‘healthy’. This is especially true when we’re talking about omega 3 fatty acids, healthy fats that are good for your cardiovascular system.

How about omega 6 fatty acids? They are also essential to support normal growth and development. But overload of these fatty acids could be counterproductive. Too much omega 6 fatty acids may stimulate the body to release more pro-inflammatory chemicals.

Refined carbohydrates

As written earlier, refined sugar is bad especially when your body is in an inflammatory state. The same goes for refined carbohydrates (such as white rice, instant French fries /mashed potatoes (white potatoes), white flour products, and many instant cereals). They are not only bad for your insulin sensitivity, but also a driver of escalating AGEs that can stimulate inflammation.

What else?
  1. MSG (mono-sodium glutamate), a flavor-enhancing food additive which is typically found in soy sauce, fast foods, and some prepared Asian foods. It is not recommended for people with RA since it can trigger more inflammation. It is also bad for your liver health!
  2. Gluten and casein, typically found in dairy and wheat products – though not all people with RA find their symptoms worsen with these common allergens.
  3. Aspartame, an intense artificial sweetener. Nowadays, it is easily found in many food and beverage products worldwide. Some people are more sensitive to this chemical, making their immune system more active and cause an inflammatory response.
  4. Alcohol, especially when you consume it excessively. Too much alcohol will make your liver work harder. In long term, this will weaken your liver function which then may hurt other multi-organ interactions and trigger excess inflammation.

Even though there is no specific instruction for rheumatoid arthritis diet, it’s worth a try to cut back on foods that trigger more inflammation. For more guidance, ask a professional dietitian!

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