The Connection Between Diet and Knee Pain

The Connection Between Diet and Knee Pain 645d537e86739.png

The Connection Between Diet and Knee Pain

Losing weight through proper dieting and exercise can decrease knee pain, and increase your quality of life.

In previous articles, we’ve taken a look at helpful knee-safe exercises, as well as stressed the importance of having a healthy diet. Today we are going to take a look at the connection between dietary choices and inflammation, which can increase osteoarthritis pain and decrease knee mobility.

Researchers have been studying the relationship between nutrition and osteoarthritis for quite some time. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is just one of many that have found a connection between following a western diet and increased progression of osteoarthritis. In this particular study, a “western diet” was defined as a diet high in red meat, sugar, salt, fat, and refined grains.

So let’s take a look at this western diet, and see what it is about these foods that are problematic when it comes to osteoarthritis of the knee.

Red Meat

Though lean red meat on occasion can be beneficial for our health, eating too much red meat can make arthritis symptoms worse.
The problem is that animal products contain saturated fats that can actually increase inflammation. So when it comes to eating red meat, it’s best to choose leaner cuts and limit the amount consumed.


Though every diet involves limiting your sugar intake- when it comes to those diagnosed with osteoarthritis- this is a must.

Research has shown that there is a relationship between excessive sugar intake and increased knee osteoarthritic inflammation. In fact, according to a recent study,  researchers found that it only takes 40 grams of sugar, which is roughly the amount found in one can of soda, to trigger this response. Not only that, but too much sugar can also increase the likelihood of weight gain, which can be extremely detrimental to your joints.


Studies have found that cutting back on salt is a good choice for people with osteoarthritis. Research has shown that a high salt diet can increase the severity of osteoarthritis, and contributes to cartilage breakdown and bone destruction. There is also a link between a high-sodium diet and an increased risk of developing an autoimmune disease.

Though salt is a necessary part of our diet, as it helps the body to function properly- too much salt can cause swelling and water retention which will worsen the symptoms of osteoarthritis.


There are good fats, like omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and avocadoes, and there are bad fats, such as trans fats found in processed foods and saturated fats found in animal products.

These “bad fats” can increase inflammation and contribute to a slew of other health problems such as heart disease and an increased risk of stroke.

Refined Carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates are grains that are processed in order to remove their natural nutrients and fiber. This process decreases their nutritional value and makes them more easily digestible. It also makes it easy for them to be absorbed into the bloodstream which causes a spike in blood sugar.

These foods, such as baked goods, breakfast cereals, pasta, and snacks with added sugar, salt, and fat- all greatly contribute to osteoarthritis pain, by triggering inflammation as well as weight gain.

The Bottom Line: By simply avoiding or at least limiting your intake of these foods, you can decrease the amount of inflammation in your body, and as a result, decrease osteoarthritic knee pain.

In our next article, we will look at some common beverages that should be limited or altogether avoided because they can increase inflammation and knee pain.

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