Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine. While many people follow special diets to alleviate symptoms of AS, there’s no dietary cure-all.

However, a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients is beneficial to your overall health. Certain foods may even help cut down bouts of inflammation.

Keep reading to find out what foods are the most beneficial for AS and which may be best to avoid.

Some evidence suggests that omega-3 supplements may reduce disease activity in people with AS. Besides supplements, many foods are also rich in this fatty acid.

Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • flax seed
  • walnuts
  • soybean, canola, and flaxseed oils
  • cold-water fish, including salmon and tuna

Other foods contain smaller amounts, including Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and salad greens.

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is a great way to get most of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay strong and healthy.

Fruits and vegetables are a healthy alternative to packaged snacks that are full of calories with little or no nutritional value.

Including fresh produce in your everyday diet doesn’t have to be difficult. A hearty vegetable soup will warm you up on the coldest nights. Or try a berry-filled smoothie for a delicious and portable weekday breakfast. If the recipe you use calls for yogurt and you can’t eat dairy, you can substitute coconut or soy yogurt.

Whole foods and grains are high in fiber and may even decrease inflammation. However, even whole grains can trigger symptoms in some people with arthritis. This could be due to gluten, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

A 1-month elimination diet is one of the best ways to identify any foods that trigger symptoms. Elimination diets remove certain foods that are thought to trigger symptoms and then are added back into your diet one at a time while monitoring any changes in symptoms. It’s best to check with your healthcare provider before starting an elimination diet.

It’s important to keep a food diary during the elimination diet and when you reintroduce foods to determine if grains, and specifically gluten, cause a flare-up. If not, add some healthy whole grain foods to your daily diet, such as oatmeal and buckwheat.

If your diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, legumes, and whole grains, you’re less likely to require dietary supplements. But if you’re lacking nutrients, you may benefit from an extra boost.

Just be aware that some supplement manufacturers may make false claims. Talk with your doctor to discover which supplements, if any, might be useful for you.

Tell your doctor all of the medications you’re taking, as some supplements may interfere with your prescriptions. Also ask your doctor to recommend reputable supplement manufacturers.

Some people with AS report improvement while on a low starch diet. More studies are needed, but some older research suggests that limiting starch may help decrease inflammation.

These items all contain starch:

  • breads
  • pastas
  • potatoes
  • rice
  • pastries
  • some prepackaged snack foods

The low starch diet allows:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • meat
  • fish
  • milk and milk products
  • eggs

Sugar, sodium, and fat

Highly processed foods, and those that are high in sugar and fat, may cause inflammation. For some, dairy products can also cause inflammation.

Limit foods that come in boxes, bags, and cans whenever possible. Read labels and avoid foods that contain too many extra ingredients that your body doesn’t need, such as:

  • added sugars
  • high sodium content
  • saturated fats
  • trans fats (hydrogenated oils)
  • preservatives


Limit your alcohol intake or avoid it altogether. Alcohol can interfere or interact with medications, causing side effects.

Excessive amounts of alcohol can damage your liver, the lining of your small intestine, and your stomach. This can make it hard for your body to digest nutrients and interfere with your ability to absorb and store certain vitamins.


Many people with arthritis take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can cause damage to your gut lining. Bananas and active- or live-culture yogurt taken with NSAIDs may help protect your gut.

Sticking to a nutritious and well-balanced diet can be difficult. Eating slowly, choosing smaller portions, drinking plenty of water, and saving sweets for special occasions are things you can start doing today to eat healthfully.

As always, avoid extreme or fad diets, as these can do more harm than good.

Talk with your doctor about your current diet, supplements, and all over-the-counter and prescription medications you’re taking.