Some people report that eating eggs worsens their arthritis symptoms, but scientific evidence on this is limited. Whether or not eggs have any effect may depend on the individual.
Inflammation is part of what causes arthritis pain. Eggs contain some pro-inflammatory compounds, which may explain the link. Alternatively, it could be that some people with arthritis also have an allergy or sensitivity to eggs.
Read on to learn about the relationship between eggs and arthritis, how arthritis affects pain and autoimmunity, and other foods that could be problematic.
Some people with arthritis report that eggs worsen their symptoms, but there is a lack of research investigating how common this is and what the relationship is.
Some people believe it is because eggs affect inflammation levels in the body. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or injury. In small amounts, it can be helpful, but when it is chronic, it can cause long-term pain or swelling.
Inflammation plays a role in many types of arthritis, including:
- osteoarthritis (OA) is when joint tissue breaks down from wear and tear
- rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy joints
- psoriatic arthritis (PsA), which is another autoimmune condition that affects the joints and skin
According to a 2020 review, eggs contain substances such as trimethylamine-N-oxide, omega-6 fatty acids, and arachidonic acid, which can promote inflammation.
Inflammation is one theory behind why some people find eggs exacerbate their arthritis. Another theory is food allergies.
An egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies, and similarly to arthritis, an allergic reaction increases inflammation in the body. People who react to eggs and also have arthritis may find this worsens symptoms.
This suggests a possible connection between RA and food allergies, but until there are studies in humans to confirm this, it is impossible to know for sure.
Many people with autoimmune arthritis, such as RA or PsA, find that certain foods worsen their pain. This leads some to follow a diet known as the autoimmune protocol (AIP), which involves removing common trigger foods from the diet before slowly re-introducing them.
Eggs are one of the foods people have to avoid temporarily on the AIP, but it is unclear how or why this helps some individuals.
A small 2023 pilot study involving seven female and two male participants found that AIP showed promise as a complementary treatment for RA. However, larger trials are necessary to understand the connection.
Yes — there is some evidence that a diet high in inflammatory foods could worsen arthritis. However, the foods that trigger inflammation can depend on the person and their individual allergies, sensitivities, and responses.
In general, the Arthritis Foundation says that a diet high in the following foods can increase inflammation:
- saturated fat
- trans fats
- excessive omega-6 fatty acids
- refined carbohydrates, such as white bread
It is advisable to limit these foods if they cause problems or to eat them in moderation for overall health.
People who react to gluten may have celiac disease, another autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain and other symptoms. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is also a possibility.
By working with a doctor or dietitian, people can determine if they have any specific issues with certain foods and take steps toward a diet that works for them.
Just as pro-inflammatory foods may increase inflammation, an anti-inflammatory diet may decrease it. The Mediterranean diet is one of the most well-researched options and has the following scientific support:
- A longitudinal study of people with knee OA found that the Mediterranean diet had links to a lower risk of worsened pain.
- A 2019 study found that adherence to the Mediterranean diet had links to lower disease activity scores in people with PsA.
- A 2020 review of previous research found moderate evidence that the Mediterranean diet can benefit those with RA.
The Mediterranean diet focuses on:
- fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- beans and legumes
- oily fish
- nuts and seeds
- olive oil
If a person suspects that eggs worsen their arthritis symptoms or that they have joint pain with no clear cause, they can speak with a doctor. A diagnosis will allow someone to get the right treatment options for their condition.
If diet appears to be a factor, a doctor may refer a person to a dietitian for advice on balancing their diet. This guidance will aim to help minimize arthritis symptoms and allow someone to get the dietary nutrients they need.
It is important to consult a doctor or dietitian before making significant dietary changes, particularly if this involves cutting out entire food groups. Restricting a person’s diet could lead to deficiencies.
At present, much of the evidence linking eggs to arthritis symptoms is anecdotal. There is limited research on whether eggs could increase inflammation or how many people with arthritis experience negative effects from eating them.
Eggs may worsen inflammation if a person has an allergy or food sensitivity. However, it is also important to note that overall diet also plays a role. Research suggests that anti-inflammatory diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, can benefit people with multiple types of arthritis.
A person can speak with a doctor or dietitian about whether eggs or other foods could be affecting arthritis symptoms. A doctor can provide professional advice on eating plans and strategies for managing inflammation.