Is Coffee Good for Arthritis?

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Arthritis affects over 350 million people worldwide and is one of the leading causes of disability. As you can see this is a very common health problem and in North America alone it causes more disability than any other chronic illness including heart disease and diabetes.

Although many people still associate arthritis with the elderly, 3 out of 5 diagnoses will be for people under the age of 65. There are many ways to treat or ease arthritic conditions and symptoms although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, the most common type of auto-immune arthritis.

With rest, medication, exercise and a healthy diet the symptoms can be alleviated to a degree. There are certain types of food and drink that should be avoided. Some of the worst things for diabetes are everyday food types that are regularly consumed. Before you look at what food or drink is good or bad for arthritis you need to know what arthritis actually is and what causes it.

What is arthritis?

As you have read, arthritis is very common and affects 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the US alone. It is not particularly well understood though. There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and it is not just one disease but a way to refer to disease or pain of the joints.

Anyone can get arthritis regardless of age, race and gender although women are far more likely to suffer from it than men. Symptoms normally include limited range of movement along with stiffness, pain and swelling. Some people may only suffer mild symptoms while others have chronic pain and are unable to carry out normal day to day activities easily. Severe arthritis might make climbing stairs or walking very difficult. There are many specialists that can help you such as with arthritis problems and a professional should always be consulted.

Arthritis does not just cause pain. It can even cause permanent damage and changes to joints. Some damage may only be visible by x-ray but often you may see sufferers with knobbly finger joints. Some types of arthritis can affect other parts of the body as well as joints, such as kidneys, lungs, skin, the heart and eyes.

Are there certain foods and drinks that should be avoided with arthritis?

Many ailments can be affected by what you put into your body. Some foods can exacerbate symptoms and others may help. Although you cannot cure your arthritis by changing your diet you may be able to improve your day to day life by making some changes.

Refined carbohydrates, drinks with high sugar content, frozen pizza, omega-6 fats and processed meats are all bad for arthritis. White flour and white sugar can stimulate inflammation. Sodas and other beverages high in sugar can cause chronic inflammation and increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, especially in females.

Processed meats contain high levels of sodium which could cause water retention leading to swelling in the joints. Frozen pizza is known to have one of the highest levels of sodium in convenience food along with a refined carbohydrate base and processed meat, this undeniably tasty meal can cause problems for arthritis sufferers.

What about coffee? Is it ok to drink with arthritis?

You might enjoy a cup of black coffee in the morning or you may be a caffeine lover who has several cups during the day and now you want to know if this is affecting your arthritis. There is no simple answer unfortunately.

Two studies conducted in Finland of 25,000 people found that there was a link to coffee drinking and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Subjects were monitored over a 15 year period and one of the studies found that anyone who drank 4 or more cups of coffee per day was twice as likely to develop a blood marker which may suggest the development of arthritis later on. Other factors were taken into account such as alcohol consumption, smoking, age and obesity.

However the study did not take into account what types of coffee were being drunk and whether any of it was decaffeinated.

The argument for coffee

Just as some studies have concluded that coffee can contribute to the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in later life there are other factors to consider. Coffee contains antioxidant polyphenols. It has been suggested in some research that coffee may have a protective effect against gout and the antioxidants help to fight free radicals which can cause cell damage.

Due to the differing opinions in these studies it is hard to find a conclusive answer regarding coffee. The best advice is probably to moderate your caffeine and coffee intake and stay at a maximum of two cups a day. Also try to avoid sugary, creamy coffees that increase your sugar levels and calorie intake.

What drinks might be better than coffee for arthritis sufferers?

Water is the best choice all round. Hydration is important for everyone and can help fight against gout attacks. Flushing toxins out of your system can help avoid inflammation and you don’t need to spend money on fancy bottles of water. Just regular water is fine.

Other beverages that could help are fruit juices and teas. There are a lot of studies on tea for arthritis sufferers and like coffee, teas contain antioxidant polyphenols. These have strong anti-inflammatory effects. Green tea is especially good because it contains a polyphenol which is 100 times the strength of vitamin C or E when it comes to antioxidant effects.

Fruit juice is a tasty alternative to water and can be high in vitamin C which is an antioxidant. There are two things to be careful of with juice consumption. Firstly check the calories and sugar levels as it is all too easy to consume too much and secondly, if you like grapefruit juice check with your physician that it will not affect any medication that you are taking.


As with most things in life, moderation is the key. If you enjoy coffee then there is probably no harm in having one or two cups a day. With a balanced healthy diet you can help reduce the chances of getting arthritis in later life and help alleviate symptoms if you are already an arthritis patient.


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Written by Lola McQuenzie

Lola is one of our busiest writer. She has worked for Catwalk Yourself since 2007. Lola started working with us after she graduating from Central St Martins

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