10 Foods That Bring on the Pain

However, soy cheeses are naturally cholesterol-free, contain fewer calories and boast half the saturated fats of regular cheese. And since saturated fats, obesity and cholesterol could all contribute to the development of pro-inflammatory agents, Barnard says avoiding cheese may reduce your arthritic pain.

Soft Drinks

Some call it pop. Others call it tonic. But most of us just call it soda. Regardless of what name you give it, soft drinks are one of the most consumed beverages in the United States.

According to a 2005 American Beverage Association study, 28.3 percent of America's total beverage consumption consisted of soft drinks. And according to government data, this "liquid candy" is so ubiquitous that it contributes to about 10 percent of the calories consumed in the average American diet.

And Barnard says diets that are high in sugar have been associated with inflammation, since excess sugar consumption can lead to obesity, which is known to cause joint pain and swelling.

The average 12-ounce can of soda contains 136 empty calories and 33 grams of sugar -- the equivalent of 11 sugar packets or more in every can.

According to a report by Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, "carbonated drinks are the single biggest source of refined sugar in the American diet."

Eliminating soft drinks, as well as other sugary foods such as pastries, candy and sweetened cereal from your diet could help your pain, says Barnard. And he says it does not matter if it is table sugar or high fructose corn syrup; both need to be replaced. He suggests switching over to plain old water but understands this switch is not easy for everyone.

"Kids don't think it's very chic to have water; they'd rather have a Mountain Dew," says Barnard, adding in a faux French accent, "If you are looking for something chic, grab an Avon bottle."


It's been argued that, next to diamonds, chocolate is a girl's best friend. And although chocolate in moderation can actually help relieve the pain of headaches, consuming too much of it can bring on a migraine. As it turns out, chocolate contains the chemical phenylethylamine, and too much of it may affect concentration and can cause a nasty "chocolate hangover" for some.

Previously, migraine sufferers were told to avoid cheese, chocolate and red wine. But chocolate is really "up in the air" because it's not a trigger for everyone, says Dr. Carolyn Bernstein, attending neurologist and medical director of medical specialties at Cambridge Health Alliance in Boston.

"It really varies from person to person," she says. "Some people can eat a little bit, but for other people, they may be so sensitive that they can't eat it at all."

Bernstein believes that this sensitivity could be due to the amount of cocoa or caffeine found in chocolate.

"I don't think people realize how much caffeine is in chocolate," she says. "Especially the darker chocolate. There's a lot."

Dark chocolate, which contains 70 percent cocoa or more, is the worst caffeine offender, containing twice as much caffeine as regular milk chocolate. The average 1-ounce piece of dark chocolate contains about 20 milligrams of caffeine. That's the same amount of caffeine found in a 1-ounce shot of espresso.

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