What Are Foods to Avoid If You Have Spondylitis?

Reviewed on 6/4/2021

Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis, may worsen for a time (flare up) and then go away (remission). Some foods can trigger ankylosing spondylitis, so it's important to avoid certain foods to prevent inflammation. These include foods that are high in fat, salt, and sugar; processed foods, dairy products, alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and others.
Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis, may worsen for a time (flare up) and then go away (remission). Some foods can trigger ankylosing spondylitis, so it's important to avoid certain foods to prevent inflammation. These include foods that are high in fat, salt, and sugar; processed foods, dairy products, alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and others.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a rare form of arthritis that is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disease. It primarily affects the sacroiliac joints between the bones of the pelvis, and the axial skeleton, which includes the spinal column, ribcage, neck, and skull bones.

The pain from ankylosing spondylitis is due to severe inflammation of the bones in the spine (vertebrae) and pelvis and lower spine (sacroiliac joints). The symptoms may worsen for a time (flare up) and then go away (remission). In some patients, flare-ups may be triggered by certain foods.

Some foods also can play a role in causing inflammation in the body. Avoiding foods that can trigger inflammation may prevent flare-ups in some cases.

Foods to avoid that may trigger inflammation or symptoms if you have spondylitis include those listed in the table below.

Foods to Avoid in Ankylosing Spondylitis Chart

Foods high in sugars, such as soda, candy, chocolate bars, cookies, cakes, juices, sweetened cereals, and corn syrup

Foods high in fat, such as vegetable oils, pizza, French fries, and red meat 

Foods high in salt
Processed foods, such as processed meats, cured meats, fried foods, refined carbohydrates

Dairy products, including processed cheeses and full fat dairy products

Starchy foods, such as bread, pasta, and potatoes
Alcohol
Caffeine

Gluten, found in wheat, barley, and rye

Casein, a milk derivative

Nightshade vegetables (such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant), beans, and soybeans

Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG)

Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame

It is also important for patients who have spondylitis to maintain a healthy weight because being overweight can place more stress on the spine and increase symptoms. 

What Are Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis?

People tend to notice symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis in late adolescence or early adulthood, when the disease typically starts.

Early-stage symptoms may include: 

  • Pain and stiffness in the lower back and buttocks
  • Mild fever 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • General discomfort 

Other symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis may include: 

  • Irritation of muscles, ligaments, and tendons where they enter the bones, particularly in the extremities
  • Arthritis
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia 
  • Bowel inflammation that may be associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD
  • Eye inflammation (uveitis or iritis)
  • Red, painful, watery eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Stooped posture (advanced stage)

What Causes Ankylosing Spondylitis?

There is no known cause of ankylosing spondylitis, but it may be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. 

Risk factors for ankylosing spondylitis include: 

  • Family history of the condition
  • Smoking 

If a person is genetically predisposed, their ankylosing spondylitis triggers may include: 

QUESTION

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of __________ that affects the __________. See Answer

How Is Ankylosing Spondylitis Diagnosed?

An ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis usually starts with the doctor reviewing the patient history and performing physical examination to look for inflammatory back pain and irritation of muscles, ligaments, and tendons (soft tissues) where they enter the bones (enthesitis), or arthritis.

Tests that may be indicated to help confirm a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis or rule out other conditions include: 

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Reviewed on 6/4/2021
References
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/332945-overview

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/axial-spondyloarthritis-including-ankylosing-spondylitis-beyond-the-basics? search=Ankylosing%20Spondylitis&source=search_result&selectedTitle=2~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=2

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16633712/

https://spondylitis.org/about-spondylitis/treatment-information/diet-nutrition/

https://drbonnie360.com/2019/03/06/ankylosing-spondylitis-food/

https://www.posture-works.com/stay-away-from-ankylosing-spondylitis-trigger-foods/

https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/foods-to-limit/8-food-ingredients-that-can-cause-inflammation

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8835506/