What Food to Avoid When You Have Knee Pain (2023)

What Food to Avoid When You Have Knee Pain (1)

Knee pain is one of the most common problems that affect patients every year. Almost one-third of Americans will report experiencing knee pain at some point in their lives due to an injury like a ruptured ligament or a medical condition such as osteoarthritis and gout. Fortunately, minor knee and joint pains respond well to most self-care measures, including a proper diet.

So what foods should you avoid when you have knee pain? Ideally, you should avoid foods and beverages that lead to additional inflammation and weight gain like alcohol, red meat, and processed products. With a better diet, you can reduce the severity of joint inflammation and improve your overall quality of life.

How Your Diet Could Be Affecting Your Knees

Your diet can have a great impact on the health and longevity of your knees and joints. Eating smart can lead to benefits such as building up bone density, strengthening connective tissues, and reducing inflammation. These effects can preserve the condition of your knees and add a cushion against injuries. A balanced diet can also help you keep your weight under control so your knees won’t be too strained under the pressure.

Inflammation is often both a cause and symptom of knee pain, with symptoms like redness and swelling. Inflammation is the natural response of your immune system to irritation, disease, or injury. When inflammation occurs, your body produces a harmful byproduct called free radicals to respond to toxins and other natural processes.

However, oxidative stress happens when too many free radicals build up in the body. Oxidative stress can damage cells and tissues, including synovium and cartilage which are responsible for protecting the knee joint. Additionally, oxidative stress can trigger further joint inflammation so it’s important to avoid products with inflammatory substances.

Remember: the right diet can be healing for you but the wrong foods can cause many harmful effects. It’s best to follow a few simple tricks to keep your knees happy.

(Video) DIET FOR JOINT PAIN - Best Foods for people with Arthralgia

5 Foods to Avoid If You Have Knee Pain

It’s hard to say for sure which foods or beverages are causing your knees pain because each person has a different body which may respond differently to certain things. There could also be other lifestyle factors like stress or lack of rest that aggravate the aches your knees feel.

When it comes to the diet, you don’t have to do a complete overhaul. The trick to figuring out which foods you can or cannot continue to enjoy is to remove two or three foods from your diet for three weeks, then reintroduce them to see which ones are causing you joint pain.

Here are some foods you can try avoiding first:

1. Sugary Foods

Sugar is such a common ingredient in our foods that we don’t notice its effects on us because of how much we consume daily. High blood sugar can release inflammatory cells by stimulating the immune cells, which release molecules that can irritate your tissues and joints. Fast food, processed snacks, and gluten-filled baked goods contain a lot of sugar, transfats, saturated fats, and preservatives.

Aside from causing inflammation, too much sugar can lead to obesity and heart disease. As much as possible, avoid products that use white flour or processed sugar like that in candy, ice-cream and soda. Consider natural sugar alternatives like honey, coconut sugar, and maple syrup as well.

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2. Salt or MSG

Salt is known to attract water to the body’s cells, which can aggravate knee pain and joint inflammation. Monosodium glutamate or MSG is another food additive that is a culprit of chronic joint inflammation and enhances joint pain. Avoid foods containing too much of these ingredients, especially processed or prepackaged products like canned soup, pizza, specific types of cheese, and fast food.

3. Alcohol

Aside from harming your health in general, large quantities of alcohol intake can interfere with pain-relief drugs and other medications you may be taking for your knees. Alcohol also exacerbates symptoms of arthritis and can increase the severity and frequency of gout attacks.

4. Red Meat

People who consume diets which center on red meats like pork, beef, and lamb may find their joint pain symptoms are worse. Red meats have high levels of inflammatory markers and may contain trans fat or partially hydrogenated oil.

On the other hand, people who eat plant-based diets experience improvements with their symptoms so it’s best to reduce the quantity of red meat found in your meals.

5. Omega-6 Fatty Acids

While we do need omega-6 fatty acids in our diets, too much can be detrimental to our knees and joints. Omega-6 can boost the amount of inflammatory chemicals our bodies produce. Omega-6 can be found in various cooking oils like corn, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, vegetable, and peanut oils. Check for these ingredients in condiments such as salad dressing and mayonnaise as well.

(Video) 10 Best Foods To Eat If You Have Arthritis And Joint Pain

What Should You Eat to Help With Osteoarthritis and Other Knee Pains

Although many people claim that a Mediterranean diet is the best for alleviating knee pain, there really is no one specific diet that can treat the problem directly. Generally, research tells us that healthy diets full of fish, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains can help with osteoarthritis and other knee conditions. To take better care of your health, load up your plate with these foods:

Omega-3 Rich Foods

Omega-3 is a substance known to decrease morning stiffness, relieve joint pain, and reduce inflammation. Products rich in omega-3 also improve brain function and lower the risk of getting heart disease or diabetes. Eat at least two 3-ounce servings of fatty, cold-water fish weekly like salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, and sardines to fill up on omega-3. Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, flax seed, and pine nuts are also a great source of omega-3 and protein.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Green, leafy vegetables are full of antioxidants, fibers, and calcium which can support your recovery from knee pain. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussel sprouts also contain a natural compound called sulforaphane. When combined with glucosinolate, another substance found in pungent plants like mustard and horseradish, sulforaphane can block the inflammatory process and slow down cartilage deterioration for osteoarthritis.

Other vegetables to include in your diet are arugula, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, and collard greens.

Herbs and Spices

Spices and pungent root vegetables in the allium family can help you make your food tastier and combat the effects of knee joint inflammation. Include a lot of garlic, onions, leeks, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric in your dishes. Research on turmeric has found it especially rich in the chemical curcumin, which works about as well as ibuprofen in soothing knee aches and pains.

(Video) 10 Best Foods To Fight Arthritis And Joint Pain

Fresh Fruit

Plant-based foods are rich in antioxidants, molecules that protect you from free radicals, support your immune system, and fight inflammation. Most fruits are rich in antioxidants like Vitamin C, which preserve the bones, protects cartilage cells, and boosts collagen production in the body. To boost your overall health and protect your knees from joint inflammation, eat a lot of:

  • Orange
  • Apple
  • Watermelon
  • Avocado
  • Pineapple
  • Grapefruit
  • Limes
  • Lemons
  • Tart cherries
  • Pomegranates
  • Berries

Other Tips to Follow For Healthy Eating

Choosing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant products are not enough. Learning how to prepare and portion your meals can contribute to your overall health. Some tips you can follow for a nutritious diet include:

  • Avoid high cooking temperatures.

Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are compounds that can cause inflammation. Research has also linked AGEs to other diseases such as diabetes and atherosclerosis, a condition where fat builds up inside the artery walls of your heart. When you cook meat at a high temperature, AGEs are created. It’s better to avoid frying, roasting, broiling or microwaving your meats and opt to bake or steam them instead.

  • Substitute other fats with olive oil.

When you’re cooking, swap out butter, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, and peanut oil for olive oil instead whenever possible. Olive oil is a staple in a Mediterranean diet and it’s a source of Omega-3. According to research, olive oil also contains a compound called oleocanthal, which works as both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. Oleocanthal is a natural agent that works similarly to the drug ibuprofen so it will help manage any knee pain you may experience.

  • Cut out extra calories.

Your knees will feel much better if you can lose extra weight because the heavier you are, the more stress your joints will feel. Lower your calorie count by avoiding junk food and taking much smaller portions. Trick yourself into eating less by using a much smaller plate for your meals and switch out white flour in bread or pasta with whole oats, whole wheat, barley, rye, quinoa, or brown rice. Pay attention to the nutrition labels of the food you eat so you can make healthier choices based on their contents.

(Video) Avoid 10 Foods That Can Worsen Joint Pain or Arthritis

Expert Knee Treatment With The Spine & Rehab Group

Don’t let knee pain and discomfort interfere with your daily routines. At The Spine & Rehab Group, we work hard to treat our patients so they live full and active lives.

Our board-certified doctors will take a comprehensive look at your condition and consider all the non-surgical, alternative, or interventional treatment options available to you. Specialists and professional staff will then work with you to develop a customized plan that can relieve your pain and promote a complete recovery. Schedule an appointment with any of our New York or New Jersey clinics so you can begin your healing process.

Page Updated on Jun 20, 2022 by Dr. Hosny (Interventional Spine Specialist) of The Spine & Rehab Group


What foods help repair knees? ›

The Best Foods for Healthy Joints
  • Seeds and Nuts. Seeds and nuts are packed with healthy Omega-3 fatty acids known to fight inflammation and help reduce it in your connective tissue and joints. ...
  • Coldwater Fish. ...
  • Fruit. ...
  • Cruciferous Veggies. ...
  • Beans and Lentils. ...
  • Olive Oil. ...
  • Whole Grains. ...
  • Root Veggies and Garlic.
27 Oct 2020

What food makes knee stronger? ›

Kale and other dark, leafy greens are rich in nutrients that are linked to joint health, including the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin C. Some, including kale and collard greens, are also an excellent source of calcium, which helps keep your bones strong.

What foods make knee arthritis worse? ›

Here are eight foods known to contribute to inflammation and the aggravation of your arthritis symptoms.
  • Sweets. Consuming too much sugar increases inflammation in your body. ...
  • Dairy. ...
  • Fatty foods. ...
  • Carbohydrates. ...
  • Tobacco and alcohol. ...
  • Advanced glycation end (AGE) products. ...
  • Gluten. ...
  • Additives.

Which fruit is best for knee pain? ›

Richly colored fruits have nutrients, like anthocyanins and lycopene, that limit the inflammatory response, and citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C that prevents inflammation – blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes (it is a fruit), strawberries, cherries, raspberries, oranges, limes, and grapefruits.

What can I drink for my knees? ›

Tea is one of the most-studied drinks when it comes to its benefits for arthritis patients. Green, black and white teas are all rich in polyphenols – compounds from plants that have strong anti-inflammatory effects. You'll find the highest polyphenol levels in green and white teas.

Is Egg good for knee pain? ›

Consuming eggs regularly can lead to an increased amount of swelling and joint pain. The yolks contain arachidonic acid, which helps trigger inflammation in the body. Eggs also contain saturated fat which can also induce joint pain.

Do bananas help knees? ›

Bananas and Plantains are high in magnesium and potassium that can increase bone density. Magnesium may also alleviate arthritis symptoms.

How can I heal my knee faster? ›

Self-care measures for an injured knee include:
  1. Rest. Take a break from your normal activities to reduce repetitive strain on your knee, give the injury time to heal and help prevent further damage. ...
  2. Ice. Ice reduces both pain and inflammation. ...
  3. Heat. ...
  4. Compression. ...
  5. Elevation.
11 May 2021

Is milk good for knee pain? ›

Dairy products

Some people advise against eating dairy foods, but this is probably helpful only for people with a lactose intolerance. Low-fat dairy products can offer some benefits for people in OA of the knee.

What is the number 1 vegetable to avoid? ›

However, there is one vegetable that can be partially poisonous to humans: rhubarb leaves. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, a chemical that can cause death if a human consumes between 5.7 and 11.7 pounds of rhubarb leaves, depending on the specific leaves and the individual's weight, according to Healthline.

Is milk good for knee arthritis? ›

According to a study, researchers found that there was a lower progression of osteoarthritis among women who consumed milk. 5 Consuming milk was also found to be helpful for people with gout.

What should I avoid with knee pain? ›

High-impact exercises can further injure painful knees. Avoid jarring exercises such as running, jumping, and kickboxing. Also avoid doing exercises such as lunges and deep squats that put a lot of stress on your knees. These can worsen pain and, if not done correctly, cause injury.

How can I control my knee pain naturally? ›

8 Natural Home Remedies for Knee Pain
  1. RICE.
  2. Tai chi.
  3. Exercise.
  4. Weight management.
  5. Heat and cold.
  6. Herbal ointment.
  7. Willow bark.
  8. Ginger extract.

What is the main cause of knee pain? ›

The most common causes of knee pain are related to aging, injury or repeated stress on the knee. Common knee problems include sprained or strained ligaments, cartilage tears, tendonitis and arthritis.

What vitamins help knees? ›

To protect your body from knee pain, look for foods that supply these important nutrients.
  • Calcium. You've probably watched enough “Got Milk?” commercials to know that calcium strengthens bones. ...
  • Vitamin D. ...
  • Vitamin C. ...
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids. ...
  • Protein.
26 Jul 2016

What is a good vitamin for your knees? ›

Supplements for Joint Pain
  • Glucosamine. 1/12. This amino sugar is a natural part of the cartilage in your joints. ...
  • Chondroitin. 2/12. ...
  • Fish Oil/Omega-3s. 3/12. ...
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) 4/12. ...
  • Vitamin D. 5/12. ...
  • Turmeric. 6/12. ...
  • Borage Oil. 7/12. ...
  • SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) 8/12.
25 Nov 2022

What helps knee pain? ›

How to ease knee pain and swelling
  1. put as little weight as possible on your knee – for example, avoid standing for a long time.
  2. use an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) on your knee for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
  3. take paracetamol.

Is Apple good for knee pain? ›

Some antioxidants, found in fruits and veggies like apples, onions, shallots, and strawberries, may also help reduce joint inflammation and pain.

Which fruit is good for leg pain? ›

1. Avocado. Avocados are creamy, delicious fruits that are packed with nutrients that may help prevent muscle cramps. They're particularly rich in potassium and magnesium, two minerals that act as electrolytes in the body and play roles in muscle health.

What fruits help joints? ›

Best Fruits for Arthritis
  • Fruit Basics. All fruits have health benefits, but some have more disease-fighting properties than others. ...
  • Tart cherries. ...
  • Strawberries. ...
  • Red Raspberries. ...
  • Avocado. ...
  • Watermelon. ...
  • Grapes.

What fruit is not good for arthritis? ›

Citrus fruits cause inflammation

Some people believe that they should avoid citrus fruits because the acidity is inflammatory.

Which tablet is best for knee joint pain? ›

Drugs That Tame Inflammation

Aspirin. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn)

What helps knee pain at night? ›

To relieve knee pain at night, try supporting your knees with a cushion. You can also take a warm bath, apply ice or heat, and massage your knee to ease the pain. During the day, do your best to stay active. Regular exercise and stretching can manage knee pain and help you fall asleep more quickly at night.

What foods make knees hurt? ›

5 Foods to Avoid If You Have Knee Pain
  • Sugary Foods. Sugar is such a common ingredient in our foods that we don't notice its effects on us because of how much we consume daily. ...
  • Salt or MSG. ...
  • Alcohol. ...
  • Red Meat. ...
  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids.
20 Jun 2022

Can drinking water reduce knee pain? ›

While hydration won't cure your joint pain, it can be beneficial for easing your symptoms. Not only does this natural remedy help your joints, but your overall health will benefit as well.

How much water should I drink for knee pain? ›

According to “The Food and Nutrition Board,” it is recommended that women drink 91 ounces of water daily and men, 125 ounces on average. Drinking water can stimulate our production of synovial fluid (in charge of lubricating the cartilage), plus, reduce inflammation around the joint.

What foods should I eat everyday? ›

Top 15 healthy foods you should be eating
  • Fish. ...
  • Broccoli or any of the cruciferous vegetables. ...
  • Beets. ...
  • Spinach and other leafy green vegetables. ...
  • Kale. ...
  • Peanut butter. ...
  • Almonds. ...
  • Mangos.
5 Apr 2019

What are the 4 foods to avoid? ›

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages: Empty calories. Salty Snacks (Potato chips, Cheese doodles, etc): Too much salt and preservatives. Packaged Sweets (Candy, Packaged cookies and sweets): Empty calories, preservatives, additives. Processed Meats (Bacon, Sausage, Cold cuts): Linked to cancer, heart disease.

How can I stop joint pain? ›

Here's how to keep your joints healthy as you age:
  1. Stay at a healthy weight. Extra pounds put pressure on weight-bearing joints like hips and knees. ...
  2. Control your blood sugar. ...
  3. Exercise. ...
  4. Stretch. ...
  5. Avoid injury. ...
  6. Quit smoking. ...
  7. Eat fish twice a week. ...
  8. Get routine preventive care.

What vegetable causes joint pain? ›

Nightshade Vegetables

Eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes are all members of the nightshade family. These vegetables contain the chemical solanine, which some people claim aggravates arthritis pain and inflammation.

Do bananas hurt your joints? ›

Bananas are not a typical choice for people with arthritis, but the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in them may aid in protecting the body against certain oxidative stress.

What drink is good for arthritis pain? ›

Tea is one of the best beverages for arthritis patients due to its many health benefits. Green, black and white teas are all rich in anti-inflammatory compounds like polyphenols. Green tea is generally viewed as the most beneficial because of its active ingredient “epigallocatechin-3-gallate” or EGCG.

Is chicken good for arthritis? ›

Meat & Seafood: Opt for Lean Meats and Fatty Fish

Fatty fish is the most potent and easily absorbed source of anti-inflammatory omega-3s. It's a great substitute for red meat, which has been linked to increased inflammation. Chicken and turkey are also great choices.

What is the best home remedy for knee arthritis? ›

A Warm or Cold Compress

Heat or cold treatment may provide immediate, short-term pain relief from knee arthritis. Heat therapy may reduce pain and improve circulation in and around the knee joint. Applying a warm compress to the knee can also relieve muscle and joint stiffness and help warm up the knee before activity.

What can I take for knee pain everyday? ›

The main over-the-counter drugs are acetaminophen (Tylenol and other brands) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs), including aspirin (such as Bayer), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve). These can help with simple sprains or even arthritis.

Does potato cause knee pain? ›

Foods rich in an alkaloid called solanine can cause arthritic pain. Consumption of such food items may lead to calcium deposition in tissues. Moderate your intake of tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant to keep joint pain at bay.

Is lemon good for knee pain? ›

Lemon serves as an effective remedy to relieve knee pain due to its benefits. For instance, citric acid in lemons helps to lower uric acid in your body which causes certain types of arthritis.

What is serious knee pain? ›

Knee pain may be the result of an injury, such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. Medical conditions — including arthritis, gout and infections — also can cause knee pain. Many types of minor knee pain respond well to self-care measures. Physical therapy and knee braces also can help relieve pain.

When Is knee pain serious? ›

Make an appointment with your doctor if your knee pain was caused by a particularly forceful impact or if it's accompanied by: Significant swelling. Redness. Tenderness and warmth around the joint.

How can I repair my knees naturally? ›

Legumes are high in protein, which is why they help replenish the collagen our body needs to rebuild the cartilage in our knees. Not only are they high in protein, but they also have amino acids and lysines, both of which are essential when trying to rebuild knee cartilage naturally.

How can I heal my knees naturally? ›

Self-care measures for an injured knee include:
  1. Rest. Take a break from your normal activities to reduce repetitive strain on your knee, give the injury time to heal and help prevent further damage. ...
  2. Ice. Ice reduces both pain and inflammation. ...
  3. Heat. ...
  4. Compression. ...
  5. Elevation.
11 May 2021

How can I rebuild my strong knees? ›

Knee exercises for runners
  1. Knee bends – 3 sets of 10 repetitions (reps) ...
  2. Thigh contraction – 3 sets of 15 seconds with each leg. ...
  3. Straight leg raises – 3 sets of 10 reps with each leg. ...
  4. Hamstring stretch with thigh contraction – 3 sets of 15 seconds with each leg. ...
  5. ITB (iliotibial band) – 3 sets of 15 seconds with each leg.

How can I rebuild my knees? ›

Cartilage Regeneration Options

MACI is a surgical procedure that uses cartilage-forming cells from your body to restore damaged cartilage in the knees. It involves a biopsy to harvest chondrocytes (cartilage-forming cells), which are allowed to multiply in a lab, and surgery to implant them into the damaged area.

Will knee pain go away? ›

Knee pain will usually go away without further medical treatment, using only a few self-help measures. If you need help you might first see a physiotherapist or your GP.

What is the reason of knee pain? ›

Knee pain may be the result of an injury, such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. Medical conditions — including arthritis, gout and infections — also can cause knee pain. Many types of minor knee pain respond well to self-care measures. Physical therapy and knee braces also can help relieve pain.

What is causing knee pain? ›

The most common causes of knee pain are related to aging, injury or repeated stress on the knee. Common knee problems include sprained or strained ligaments, cartilage tears, tendonitis and arthritis.

What is the fastest way to heal your knee? ›

Do use "RICE." Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) is good for knee pain caused by a minor injury or an arthritis flare. Give your knee some rest, apply ice to reduce swelling, wear a compressive bandage, and keep your knee elevated.

Can you repair knees without surgery? ›

The first alternative to knee surgery most physicians try is lifestyle modification. This may include weight loss; avoiding activities such as running and twisting, which can aggravate the knee injury; modifying exercise to no- and low-impact; and other changes in your daily routine to reduce stress on your knee.

How do I stop knee pain when walking? ›

Try to avoid walking on hard surfaces because that can increase knee pain. Walking on a track or in the grass will soften the impact on your knees. Walking on an elliptical instead of a treadmill will also lessen the impact on your knees.

What is the best exercise for weak knees? ›

10 Exercises for Weak Knees
  • Wall or Chair Squats. If your knees are weak, stand in front of a chair or against a wall while you do squats so that you don't lose your balance. ...
  • Full Chair Sits-to-Stands. ...
  • Lunges. ...
  • Straight Leg Lifts. ...
  • Side Leg Raises. ...
  • Short-Arcs. ...
  • Step-ups or Knee Marching. ...
  • Calf and Abductor Raises.
21 Dec 2020

What vitamins help repair cartilage? ›

Vitamins D and K are both important for bone strength, and vitamin K is involved in cartilage structure. Supplementing these two nutrients may be helpful if you're deficient in them.


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