10 Inflammatory Foods to Avoid for Better health

Inflammation is one of the most talked about topics, and it is a natural response of the body to harmful stimuli.

However, when it persists for a longer duration (chronic inflammation), it can lead to various health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer.

One way to reduce inflammation is by choosing the right foods, and these ten inflammatory foods help you stay healthy.

1. Sugar

Sugar is one of the worst inflammatory foods commonly available in many foods. It can contribute to inflammation in several ways.

Firstly, consuming more added sugar leads to elevated insulin levels, which can cause inflammation.

Secondly, consuming too much sugar can result in oxidative stress, causing cellular damage and inflammation.

Additionally, a high-sugar diet can disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to inflammation and reducing the body’s ability to fight off infections.

Furthermore, consuming sugar can increase the production of cytokines, proteins that promote inflammation.

Lastly, when sugar reacts with proteins and fats in the body, it can form advanced glycation end products (AGEs). A compound that causes inflammation and contributes to other health problems.

Avoiding foods high in sugar, such as candy, soda, and baked products, is vital to reduce the risk of inflammation.

2. Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, and baked products, are stripped of fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

As a result, they are quickly converted into sugar. With oxidation for energy production, these foods trigger inflammation easily. 

3. Trans fats

Trans fats are commonly found in processed foods such as fried foods and baked goods. These are high in LDL and Triglycerides, also known as bad cholesterol, and low levels of HDL, also known as good cholesterol.

High levels of trans fats can increase oxidative stress, contributing to inflammation and cellular damage. These unhealthy accumulate in blood vessels, leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other health problems.

Therefore, it is recommended to avoid trans fats and choose healthier oils, such as olive or avocado, to reduce the risk of inflammation and improve overall health.

Additional reading: Learn about high-cholesterol foods that need to be avoided. 

4. Processed meats

Processed foods such as hot dogs, sausages, and deli meats (pre-cooked sliced meat) are notorious inflammatory foods. 

They contain high preservatives, including sodium and nitrates, which have been associated with inflammation in the body. In addition, these additives can trigger a natural immune response, leading to oxidative stress and cellular damage, contributing to chronic inflammation and increasing the risk of various diseases.

So, limiting the consumption of these processed foods and including fresh, whole foods as part of a healthy diet is recommended.

5. Dairy products

Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and butter, can cause inflammation in some people.

This is because they contain casein, a protein found in milk, and lactose, a sugar found in milk. For lactose intolerant, eating dairy can cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhoea.

Additionally, some people may have an intolerance or allergy to casein, which can cause an immune response and trigger inflammation. Additionally, dairy products contain high levels of arachidonic acid, a fatty acid that can contribute to inflammation.

You should talk to your family doctor if you have any of these symptoms and get detailed advice about meals.

6. Alcohol

Alcohol consumption has been shown to trigger inflammation in the body through multiple mechanisms.

It can interfere with the delicate balance of gut microbiota, leading to inflammation and increased permeability of the gut lining. In addition, the immune system is also activated, increasing pro-inflammatory cytokine production. All these events lead to poor gut health

Furthermore, alcohol causes oxidative stress, damaging cells and tissues and disrupting the body’s balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory factors.

These combined effects of alcohol can contribute to chronic inflammation and various associated health problems.

7. Fried foods

Fried foods such as French fries and fried chicken can cause inflammation in the body due to their high levels of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs).

AGEs are formed when food is cooked at high temperatures, significantly when it’s fried, and they increase oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.

The high levels of bad fats and oils used in frying can also contribute to inflammation. These oils can cause the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and lead to the buildup of fatty deposits in the blood vessels, both of which contribute to the development of chronic inflammation.

This type of inflammation has been linked to various health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It’s, therefore, necessary to limit the consumption of fried foods and opt for healthier cooking methods, such as baking or boiling.

8. Artificial sweeteners

Aspartame and sucralose commonly use two of the artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately, these compounds cause inflammation through a combination of mechanisms.

They can alter the gut microbiome, leading to inflammation and an increased risk of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Artificial sweeteners can also stimulate the immune system, causing the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. In addition, they increase the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), leading to oxidative stress and inflammation.

Also, some artificial sweeteners interfere with glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, leading to inflammation and oxidative stress.

These combined effects of artificial sweeteners can contribute to chronic inflammation.

9. Vegetable oils

Vegetable oils, such as soybean, corn, and canola oil, are high in omega-6 fatty acids and can trigger inflammation.

Omega-6 fatty acids are building blocks of chemicals (cytokines) that increase inflammation when taken in excess. A diet high in omega-6 fatty acids can disrupt the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory factors, leading to chronic low-grade inflammation.

So, reducing the consumption of these oils and opting for healthier fat sources, such as olive or coconut oil, is essential because they have anti-inflammatory effects.

10. Gluten

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, can cause inflammation in individuals with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

In these individuals, gluten triggers an immune response, causing the release of chemicals that increase inflammation (pro-inflammatory cytokines) and lead to inflammation in the gut.

The inflammation can damage the gut lining and lead to the leaky gut syndrome. Then, it can cause systemic inflammation and an increased risk of various health problems, such as autoimmune diseases and nutrient deficiencies.

Additionally, gluten can cause oxidative stress and contribute to chronic low-grade inflammation. It is a risk factor for developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Individuals with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity must avoid foods that are rich in gluten and choose gluten-free grains, such as quinoa, rice, and oats.

The Bottom Line

Avoiding inflammatory foods is crucial for improving overall health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

It is essential to limit the consumption of foods that cause inflammation, such as artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, gluten, and omega-6 fatty acids, to prevent chronic diseases. On the other hand, by adding anti-inflammatory foods, such as olive oil, fatty fish, green leafy veggies, nuts and seeds to their diet, individuals can have a healthier life.

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