Can Keto Help with Joint Pain?

What you eat nourishes all the cells and organs in your body. Your nutrition plays a large role in you’re the health of your entire body. The foods in your diet can influence your well-being in a positive or a negative way, depending on what you choose. Knowing this, you might be asking yourself, what things should I eat? Or perhaps, what should I avoid eating? When it comes to a chronic issue, your diet is even more important. It is important to use your diet to your advantage. You should be fueling your body in a way that minimizes symptoms and gives you the best quality of life possible. Have you experienced joint pain? What caused it? Think about how you managed the pain. Maybe you have chronic joint pain and you are hoping for some relief. In this article, we will talk about what joint pain is, causes, symptoms, and address keto joint pain.

Joint pain

Joints are where the parts of your body meet such as knees, shoulders, hips, elbows. Joint pain shows up in your body as discomfort such as achiness or soreness. There are various causes of joint pain. The most common cause is arthritis which we will delve into further below. Other less common causes for joint pain includes: lupus, gout, osteoporosis, tendinitis, fibromyalgia, injury, cancer and infections including influenza, mumps and hepatitis.


Arthritis occurs when there is inflammation in your joints. Arthritis can affect all of the joints in your body or it can create problems with just one. Generally, arthritis develops over time, but it can come on suddenly with no warning. It is more prevalent in those over 65 years of age, women, and individuals that are overweight.

Common symptoms include: joint pain, swelling and soreness. You could experience a decrease in range of motion and/or redness of the skin around the joint. Often, people notice their symptoms more in the morning after not moving their body very much after sleeping.

Arthritis is caused when the cartilage in your joint is reduced. Cartilage is a tissue that is connective and flexible. It absorbs the pressure and shock when your body puts pressure on the joint. There are more than 100 types of arthritis but the most common are: osteoarthritis (OA) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Osteoarthritis is natural cartilage loss that occurs with aging, as natural wear and tear so to speak. It can be aggravated by injury or infection. It most commonly occurs in wrists, hands, hips and knees. This type of arthritis is most common over the age of 40. Rheumatoid arthritis is part of a larger issue in the body and we will discuss that in more detail below.

There are a few different ways to treat arthritis including:

  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy
  • Lifestyle changes

rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis mistakenly attacks your joints and causes widespread inflammation. It is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation. Statistics show that about 1.5 million U.S. people live with RA.


Because rheumatoid arthritis impacts the joints, the most prevalent symptom is joint pain. As with many of the autoimmune diseases, many of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are not exclusive. You cannot always assign symptoms specifically to RA as they are precursors to many other health ailments. Other symptoms include: fever, fatigue, weakness, and unintended weight loss. Other organs in your body including skin, lungs, eyes, kidney, mouth and heart can be affected by RA so difficulty breathing, and dry eyes can also be symptoms.

There are a series of secondary symptoms that can occur as RA effects the body:

  • Circulatory system – those with RA are at a higher risk for anemia
  • Skin, eyes and mouth – hard lumps can appear as a result of inflammation
  • Respiratory system – increased risk of inflammation and/or scarring in the lungs
  • Lack of appetite and lack of sleep– caused by lack of energy and fatigue

Whether you are experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, it is important to talk with your doctor about them.


Like many other autoimmune diseases, the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known. Women tend to be diagnosed more often than men at a rate of 3 to 1. It usually begins between the ages of 30 and 60 but it shows no sympathy, and anyone can get it. It is thought that genetics, infections, or hormonal changes may play a role in this disease.

keto joint pain

It is difficult to say that there is one “best” diet for dealing with joint pain. What we can say is that you should focus on overall body health and the risk for joint pain will decrease. You should eliminate foods that are highly processed and those that contain artificial ingredients. Food is very powerful in keeping your body in optimum health. It is recommended to keep a food journal as some foods can trigger the symptoms or increase the pain. If you can track your diet, you are likely to see where patterns may occur and what foods should be avoided based on that data.

It is also advised to avoid foods that can cause or increase inflammation in the body. Did you know that over 75 percent of people are suffering with chronic inflammation and many don’t even know it? You could have inflammation in your gut, your joints, your digestive tract; or you may have allergies, food sensitivities, or any other chronic inflammation issue. Because inflammation of the body can happen as a result of autoimmune disease such as RA, one key is to minimize other instigators of it. Here are some common foods that cause inflammation: sugar and high fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats, vegetable and seed oils, refined carbohydrates, excessive alcohol, genetically modified foods, artificial sweeteners, and processed meat. It is wise to watch consumption of these products not only to avoid inflammation but also to promote healthy gut bacteria growth.

Ketogenic die​t

In a ketogenic diet you will be eliminating the carbohydrates that your body burns first for energy. In doing this, your body will begin to burn fat for energy. This is known as ketosis which is a metabolic process where your body uses fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. The basis of the keto diet is to devise an eating plan that helps your body reach ketosis. More simply put, it is a low carbohydrate and high fat diet. It consists of very little carbohydrates, moderate protein and focuses on healthy fats. Most of the foods that cause inflammation will be removed or dramatically reduced if you are following a ketogenic diet. Therefore, you will naturally experience a decrease in inflammation in your body which could promote a healthy intestinal tract. The following foods are recommended to improve your gut health, they are also on the suggested food list when following a ketogenic diet:

  • Vegetables: Broccoli, arugula, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, zucchini.
  • Fermented vegetables: Kimchi, sauerkraut.
  • Fruit: Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries.
  • Sprouted seeds: Chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds.
  • Healthy fats: Avocado, avocado oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil.
  • Fish: Salmon, mackerel, trout, herring.
  • Meats and eggs: Chicken, lamb, turkey, eggs.
  • Beverages: Bone broth, teas, kombucha, water.
  • Nuts: Pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts.

Remember that inflammation and a healthy gut are connected. If you have a healthy gut, there will likely be less inflammation in your body. With that being said, there are also many foods that can negatively impact the healthy bacteria in your body. They include: wheat based products, grains with gluten, baked goods, junk food (chips, candy, fast food, etc.), and artificial sweeteners. Most of these foods will also be removed or cut considerably if you are following a ketogenic diet. Therefore, you will be promoting healthy bacteria in your intestines. Reducing inflammation and promoting this healthy bacteria growth will lessen your joint pain and lower your risk of an autoimmune disease including rheumatoid arthritis.

A few other things to avoid:

  • Saturated fats – watch for naturally-occurring fats, avoid artificial and those that have been heavily processed.
  • Gluten – studies suggest that gluten intolerance could be attributed to all autoimmune disorders.
  • Refined sugars – these sugars are highly processed and contribute to inflammation in the body.

Keto joint pain

Diet can improve the severity of your symptoms. In fact, one survey found that 24 percent of those with RA reported that their diet made the intensity of their symptoms more bearable. For management of keto joint pain, these foods are known to give relief:

  • Fatty fish – these contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. These are both helpful in reducing inflammation
  • Garlic – possesses anti-inflammatory properties
  • Broccoli – possesses anti-inflammatory properties because it contains sulforaphane
  • Walnuts – contain omega-3 fatty acids which is helpful in reducing inflammation
  • Berries – shown to decrease arthritis-related inflammation because it contains antioxidants
  • Spinach – shown to decrease inflammation because it contains antioxidants, including kaempferol
  • Olive oil – has been shown to reduce inflammation

other recommendations

What else can you do to prevent keto joint pain? Making lifestyle changes can have a big impact on the symptoms of arthritis. As with any issue your body faces, including chronic illnesses, it is imperative to make sure you remove things that have negative results on your well-being. It is just as significant to make sure you move your body as often as possible, allow enough time for your body to rest and repair itself as well as supplement your nutrition if it is in any way lacking. Most diets today are lacking some nutritional value. It is important to make sure that you are getting the proper amount of vitamins and minerals into your body. Sometimes it is hard to find all of it in your diet, so supplements aid in making up the difference. These are a few other things that you can do to reduce inflammation and encourage healthy bacteria growth:

  • Take a probiotic supplement
  • Reduce stress
  • Avoid smoking
  • Sleep more
  • Exercise

Most of these seem clear, in helping you find good health. The one that people may be least familiar with is the probiotic supplement. What are probiotics? They are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your digestive system. As we mentioned above, there are healthy and unhealthy bacteria within your body. Probiotics are the helpful bacteria that can help keep your gut healthy. Reducing stress, improving diet and getting enough rest can all improve the health of your body, which then lowers the risk of keto joint pain.


A lot of work goes into finding a sustainable diet that will produce results. Despite the research and information available to us today, not everyone will have the same results even if they are following the exact same plans. Everyone’s body will respond differently, and it is up to you to make changes until you find the plan that works the best for you. It can be overwhelming and for many people it is, at times, very frustrating.

A major factor to evaluate is finding a plan where whole foods, particularly ones that you enjoy consuming, can be incorporated. A lot of focus should be put on the quality of food consumed. Other lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity and improving sleep can also contribute and improve results. Remember that regardless of your diet choice, it is important to stay hydrated by drinking water. It is also suggested to avoid soda, drinks with added sugars, and alcoholic beverages.

We know that the benefits to finding a healthy, balanced diet are great and that the decision is one that needs to be made based on your medical history, your health goals and in consultation with your primary care physician. Our goal here is to assess your options regarding keto joint pain so that you can make an educated decision regarding your health journey. In knowing the potential causes and issues it triggers within your body, you can take steps to minimize the symptoms of keto joint pain.

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