What Are the Foods That Can Cause Inflammation?

Foods causing inflammation can lead to complications like heart disease, acne, cancer, and etc. but they can be avoided by having an anti-inflammatory diet.

In today’s world, everyone seems to be obsessed with avoiding inflammation and they have a good reason. Acne, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart disease have all been linked to high levels of inflammation within the body.

If you have arthritis, then your body is constantly inflamed and eating the wrong things may make the inflammation worse. As such, it is important to consult various inflammatory foods lists so you are aware of not only the foods that may cause inflammation, but some non-inflammatory alternatives. The following inflammatory food list will help get you started so you can reduce your body’s inflammation.

Foods That Cause Inflammation

1. Saturated Fats

Saturated fats trigger inflammation of fat tissue (adipose) and this leads to a risk of heart disease and worsens inflammation from arthritis. For most Americans, the biggest sources of saturated fat are cheese and pizza, but you should also avoid meat products (particularly red meat), grain-based desserts, pasta dishes, and full-fat dairy.

2. Processed and Fried Foods

A study from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine showed that reducing processed and fried foods can lower your inflammation levels and restore your body’s natural defenses. This means you should avoid processed foods like prepared frozen meals and fried foods like fried meats. Instead, eat more fruits and vegetables.

3. Foods High in MSG

MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is a food additive known for its ability to enhance flavor. The chemical may trigger two pathways linked to chronic inflammation and negatively impact your liver health. MSG is commonly found in soy sauce and Asian food, so be extra careful when eating these dishes. You may also find it in deli meats, salad dressings, prepared soup or salad mixes, and fast foods, so use caution with those food items as well.

4. Preservatives and Salt

Preservatives and salt are commonly used to lengthen shelf life and for many people, salt is one of the foods that cause inflammation. You should work to reduce your salt intake to the lowest level you can handle. To do so, read labels to avoid salt, additives and preservatives, being especially cautious around prepared and microwave meals as they tend to have very high sodium content. Examples of harmful preservatives include Benzoate preservatives such as BHA, BHT and TBHQ, Sodium Nitrite and Nitrate.

5. Excessive Omega-6 Fatty Acids

It is true that the body needs omega 6 fatty acids to grow and develop normally, but these need to be balanced out with omega 3 fatty acids. If you eat too many omega 6s, your body may produce pro-inflammatory chemicals. Therefore limit certain oils (vegetable, peanut, soy, rapeseed, sunflower, safflower, and corn), mayonnaise, and pay close attention to certain nuts like walnuts, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.

6. Refined Carbs

Refined or processed carbs are one of the most common foods that cause inflammation and they are one of the leading causes of chronic conditions such as obesity. These foods have a high glycemic index and encourage AGE (advanced glycation end) product production, which in turn increases inflammation. This means you should avoid white potatoes, certain cereals, white rice, and white flour products like crackers, breads, and rolls. Instead of refined grains, pick whole grains, which also have more vitamin B and fiber.

7. Certain Fruits

While most fruits are good for you, certain tropical fruits are frequently found on the inflammatory foods list. That is because these tropical fruits, such as pineapples, papayas, mangos, oranges and bananas, have more fructose than some of the other options. This means that you should only eat these fruits about one time each week if you have diabetes. Also keep in mind that unless your ancestors came from these hotter climates, it might be hard for your body to digest tropical fruits. If you are trying to reduce inflammation but eating bananas to boost potassium levels, try other fruits and vegetables instead.

8. Dairy Products

Milk developed as a way for nature to help baby animals grow and gain weight quickly. While most people and advertisements will tell you that milk or other dairy products are directly linked to bone strength, this strength actually comes from plant foods. In reality, dairy is highly inflammatory for the majority of the population, especially full-fat dairies, butter, cheese, and ice cream). For people who are lactose intolerant, dairies are highly inflammatory.

9. Refined Sugar

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, high-glycemic starches such as processed sugars are some of the foods that can cause inflammation, which can in turn lead to overheating, swelling, redness, and pain. Sugar has also been linked to acne by the Dartmouth Medical School. Instead of eating refined sugars, try to opt for non-sweetened food and sweeten it yourself using natural sweeteners such as honey, fresh or dried fruit, and black-strap molasses.

10. Tobacco and Alcohol

Although not technically food, tobacco is linked to a higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis and alcohol is linked to gout, both of which are directly related to inflammation. To take care of this potential issue, reduce or eliminate the amount you smoke and drink and instead make healthy choices, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.

What to Eat in Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

Know foods that cause inflammation is not enough, you should also know what to add to your diet. The specific foods to eat in an anti-inflammatory diet vary from person to person. There are, however, some general rules that everyone can benefit from following:

  • Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables;
  • Get enough omega 3 fatty acids, which can be found, salmon, oysters, herring, trout, tuna, and fish oil supplements;
  • Instead of refined carbs, aim to eat a lot of whole grains, like bulgur wheat and brown rice;
  • Opt for lean sources of protein like chicken. At the same time, reduce your intake of full-fat dairy and red meat;
  • Use spices such as ginger and curry as they have anti-inflammatory effects.

Here’s the list of major foods that reduce inflammation.

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