The Top 10 Foods That Cause Inflammation

foods that cause inflammation
Photo: Foodie Crush

While inflammation is a necessary function under circumstances like injury or infection, consistent inflammation can pose a major threat to healthy digestion, mental alertness, and overall well-being. After all, there’s a major difference between acute inflammation (a positive response to a specific stimulus) and chronic inflammation (a condition that can make it very, very difficult to maintain a healthy weight).

To help you keep your life and fitness goals on track, we’ve assembled a list of the most noteworthy foods that cause inflammation. By cutting these out of your diet, you’ll be in a better position to achieve the healthy lifestyle you want.

Keep reading to learn about 10 of the top foods that cause inflammation. 

Refined flour

While most of us have long since stopped tossing loaves of Wonder Bread into our carts, there are a number of more covert sources of refined flour lurking in our diets. Pasta is a prime culprit, as are breakfast cereals, flour tortillas, and the bread baskets that grace our table before a meal. While much of American and European cooking is still steeped in white flour, you can reduce inflammation—and keep glucose levels on track—by opting for whole grains and nutrient-dense alternatives like brown rice, quinoa, and teff.

Refined sugar

Just like with flour, “refined” is the buzzword you want to avoid. Ready-to-drink teas, coffees, and even fruit and nut bars—despite being marketed as healthy— often include added sugar, which can hinder metabolic and immune functionality.

Grain-fed meats

There are a number of important reasons to opt for grass-fed meat, and avoiding inflammation is an important one to add to the list. Grain-fed animals are typically fed antibiotics, which can cause weight gain and inflammation. Grass-fed meats have less of the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and contain more of the anti-inflammatory omega-3s.

Vegetable oils

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with vegetable oils, the imbalance in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids they create can have inflammatory results. Instead, opt for natural coconut oil and olive oil, and make sure to include plenty of omega-3s in your diet.

Artificial sweeteners

While it may be tempting to sub diet sodas for their full-calorie counterparts, you may be doing more harm than good. Artificial sweeteners are often found in foods that cause inflammation and can interrupt glucose tolerance and gut health.

Overprocessed dairy

Dairy is already difficult for many individuals to digest, and milk products that have been stripped of their probiotics are even harder on the digestive system. Get your dairy fix with moderate amounts of probiotic-rich yogurts, fermented kefir, and raw cheeses.

Fast food

Avoiding fast food for a healthy diet is not rocket science, but inflammation is one of the less widely known effects. Saturated fats specifically target white adipose tissue (fat cells), and can promote chronic inflammation.

Tropical fruits

When it comes to foods that cause inflammation, it’s important to avoid too much of a good thing. Tropical fruits, which tend to have higher levels of naturally occurring glucose, are best enjoyed in moderation, since excess amounts can have the same inflammatory effects as processed sugar.

Artificial colors

Whether your soft spot is Fruit Loops or macarons, synthetic colors can trigger an inflammatory response. Since the body simply can’t process these chemical ingredients, be sure the foods you enjoy are naturally colored, if at all.

Foods cooked at high temperatures

While fried foods are famously bad for your health, grilling foods at high temperatures can also create carcinogens that cause inflammation. Cooking with antioxidant-rich ingredients like lemon juice and red wine can help curb the effects of these and other foods that cause inflammation.

Up next, keep reading for the three-day cleanse that can help gut health.