4 inflammatory foods to avoid
- Inflammatory foods can damage DNA, increase insulin resistance and increase the risk of disease.
- Sugary foods can trigger inflammation by stimulating the production of fatty acids in your liver.
- Processed meats like jerky or bacon are high in saturated fat causing inflammation.
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Your body uses inflammation to fight disease and heal wounds, but long-term chronic inflammation can be dangerous:
Your risk of chronic inflammation may be higher depending on your diet — foods like sugar, processed meat, and fried foods can all cause inflammation in your body. Limiting these foods can help reduce inflammation and reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Here are five common foods that cause inflammation.
1. Sweet foods
Foods high in sugar like sodas and pastries can trigger inflammation in two ways:
- Sugar stimulates the production of fatty acids in your liver. “When the body digests these fatty acids, the resulting compounds can trigger inflammatory processes,” says Velonda Anderson, PhD, nutritionist and CEO of Sweet Potato Delights.
- Eating sugary foods causes your body to produce more of the hormone insulin, which in turn can increase body fat. That’s a problem because “fat cells can produce chemicals in the body that cause inflammation,” says Diane Javelli, clinical dietitian at the University of Washington Medical Center and owner of Belly by Javelli.
“Limiting high-sugar foods like cakes, cookies, candies and sodas can help maintain a healthy body fat percentage” and reduce the risk of inflammation, Javelli says.
2. Red meat and charcuterie
Processed meats are meats that have been modified by drying, salting, smoking, or adding preservative chemicals, Anderson explains.
Some examples of processed meats are
- The hot dogs
- beef jerky
- chicken nuggets
Processed and red meats tend to be high in saturated fat. Studies show that eating processed fatty and red meats can lead to weight gain and inflammation.
3. Certain cooking oils
Many common cooking oils contain a type of fat called omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids aren’t necessarily bad – your body uses them for energy and normal growth.
But your omega-6 fatty acids need to be in balance with the omega-3 fatty acids you can get from foods like salmon, mackerel, and flax seeds. If you eat too many omega-6 fatty acids, it can upset this balance, which triggers inflammation.
Some common cooking oils containing omega-6 fatty acids include:
- corn oil
- Canola oil
- Sunflower oil
- safflower oil
- Peanut oil
4. Fried foods
Fried foods like chicken nuggets, donuts, and french fries are big culprits of inflammation for several reasons, including:
- Fried foods tend to have high levels of omega-6 fatty acids.
- They often contain trans fats.
- “Fried foods produce compounds in the body called advanced glycation end products, also known as AGEs. These compounds directly stimulate inflammation in the body,” Anderson says.
There are also many anti-inflammatory foods that can help fight chronic inflammation in your body. These foods are rich in key compounds like antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that work to lower your inflammatory protein levels.
Some key anti-inflammatory foods to add to your diet include:
- oily fish
- extra virgin olive oil
- Fruits and vegetables like oranges, broccoli and peppers
Inflammation is a major health issue, and your diet can have a huge effect on inflammation levels in your body. Avoiding foods like sugar, packaged snacks, and red meat can help control inflammation and lower your risk of chronic diseases like
But keep in mind that the overall content of your diet is more important than any single meal. “In other words, if your diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with moderate amounts of lean protein, the occasional consumption of your favorite sweet treat or a salty snack or even a fatty meal will not a deciding factor.” said Javeli.