6 Common Foods That Cause Inflammation (and what to eat instead)

Food is not just energy, it is enjoyment; it is sharing time with loved ones and nourishing your entire wellbeing. 

Find out whats safe and whats iffy – Photo by Lily Banse

But sometimes we forget that food is not created equally. Some common foods may actually be doing more harm than good.

Keep reading to find out which foods cause inflammation, which should be avoided, and what you can eat instead!

Food that causes inflammation

Here are some of the foods that cause inflammation. Even food marketed as healthy can have this effect on the body. 

Sugary Food

Inflammation is a natural response by the body to fight off microbes, infection, or promote healing.

Inflammation caused by excess sugar however can lead to chronic inflammation, which in turn will lead to problems such as heart disease, obesity, and joint problems.

Nonfat or Reduced Fat Food

Nonfat or reduced-fat foods may sound healthy, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

When something is taken out of food, there needs to be an ingredient to replace it. Fat in nonfat products is usually replaced with sugar, which is an ingredient that can cause inflammation.

Plus, any sugar not used by the body for energy will be stored in the body to be used later as you guessed it, fat.

Juice (and Soda)

The World Health Organization has stated that added sugars should be no more than less than 10% of total energy, with more health benefits found at 5% maximum intake. This is about 40 to 25 grams or 9 to 6 teaspoons.

The problem is sugar is added to many things, some of which aren’t even sweet like condiments or bread.

One can of cola has about 40 grams of sugar and one glass of apple juice has about 39 grams.

Juice and soda both have a large amount of added sugar. Juice, particularly, has none of the benefits of actual fruit. Instead, it is usually colored with “natural” by-products. Due to its high concentration, you are consuming more sugar than you think.

Some Cooking Oils

Fat can be a healthy, needed part of a good diet, but some can do more harm than good. 

Some cooking oils, such as canola, corn, peanut, sunflower, and safflower, have too much omega 6, leading to an out-of-balance ratio with it and omega 3. 

These oils are usually also extracted through chemical means, usually leading to contamination from byproducts.

This can cause inflammation in the body, severely reducing wellbeing.

Fried Food

A lot of common cooking oils used to fried food, such as canola oil or vegetable oil, are incredibly high in omega 6 fat.

While omega 6 is an essential nutrient for the body, the does do harm when it is out of balance with omega 3 fats. Omega 3 fats are usually found in fatty fish like salmon or grains like flaxseeds.

This out-of-balance ratio can lead to inflammation in the body.

Additionally, many of these oils used to fry food contain trans fat due to overuse and may have by-products that directly cause inflammation.

Processed Foods in General

Many processed foods cause inflammation for a variety of reasons. They usually have ingredients in them that cause damage, such as added sugar or some of the bad cooking oils.

Processed foods are also filled with chemicals that have negative effects on health.

Studies have found that chemicals, preservatives, and additives in some processed foods can harm gut bacteria, which further leads to health problems and inflammation.

Foods that Reduce Inflammation

Here is a list of food that is anti-inflammatory and can actually reduce the amount of inflammation in your body.

Chronic inflammation can eventually lead to joint damage, heart disease, and increased stress levels, so it’s best to reduce it when possible.

  • Fish
  • Olive Oil
  • Leafy Greens like Kale
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Green peppers
  • Some fruit, such as oranges
  • Broccoli

The Takeaway

Some foods will nurture you, while others may hurt more than they help.

Common foods like takeout, some cooking oils, and sugary beverages all cause inflammation in the body.

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to stressors that enter, and some forms can have healing effects, long-term inflammation is harmful.

Learning about what foods cause inflammation can help you avoid chronic inflammation.

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