Chronic inflammation can have many health effects and can make you more likely to develop a ton of health conditions. Lots of foods can contribute to this, and you’ll want to avoid them! Anti-inflammatory foods can be hugely affected if you’re also consuming plenty of inflammatory foods. Here are a few of the worst culprits for increasing inflammation.
Not all carbs are bad, but refined carbs can raise inflammation levels. Research has suggested that they can increase levels of inflammatory gut bacteria that can make you more likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease and be obese.
A study involving young, healthy men who ate 50g of refined carbs had higher blood sugar levels, and specific inflammatory markers increased.
White bread and white pasta are super common examples of refined carbs. Swap them for whole wheat alternatives to give yourself a fiber boost.
Some vegetable oils can be hugely inflammatory, including soybean oil. But on the other hand, they can contribute a ton of omega-6 fatty acids.
The typical Western diet is already full of omega-6 fatty acids. But unfortunately, it often doesn’t include adequate omega-3 fatty acids, so cooking with these oils may increase inflammation levels even more.
In a study on rats, they consumed more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, increasing their inflammatory markers.
Ideally, you want to be getting a lot more omega-3 fatty acids than omega-6 fatty acids to keep inflammation in check.
There’s a ton of evidence that trans fats are one of the worst things you can eat when it comes to inflammation. They’re hugely inflammatory and raise the risk factor for many conditions.
They can lower “good” HDL cholesterol levels and have adverse effects on endothelial cells in the blood vessels. The latter is one of the risk factors for heart disease.
They can also raise inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP). In one study, women with high levels of CRP also consumed large amounts of trans fats in their diet.
There are trans fats in many processed foods, including margarine, cookies, donuts, crackers, breakfast products, and processed snacks. Fried foods and fast food are also culprits.
Scan food labels and swerve anything with “partially hydrogenated fats” on the label. This is a big giveaway that trans fats are lurking in the food.
Saturated fats can be a problem too. According to some research, it can “short circuit” immune cells, which can cause an inflammatory response. This can raise the risk factor for heart disease and arthritis, amongst other conditions.
Full-fat dairy products, pizza, red meat, and cheese are some of the most significant sources of saturated fat. So if you eat a lot of these foods, look for lower-fat alternatives.
Sugar is hugely inflammatory and is a super common culprit for raising inflammation levels and keeping them high.
High-fructose corn syrup can be a big problem here because it’s added to tons of processed foods.
Research has shown that a high-fructose diet can lead to inflammation in the endothelial cells in the blood vessels and raise the risk factor for developing heart disease.
A high-fructose diet is linked to increased inflammatory markers in mice and humans.
Mice that were given a high-fructose diet didn’t see as much anti-inflammatory effect from omega-3 fatty acids.
The bottom line? If you’re already getting plenty of fructose from fruits and vegetables, you don’t want to get a ton of sugar from elsewhere. Added sugars, in general, encourage the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Processed meats are linked to inflammation. They tend to contain a heap of more advanced glycation end products (AGEs) as they cook, which can be inflammatory. Eating a lot of processed meat can be a risk factor for certain types of cancer, including colon cancer.
Processed meats can include bacon, ham, and sausages. Swap processed and fatty meats for fish or lean protein. Poultry and lean cuts of grass-fed beef can work great for the latter.
Foods with MSG
Mono-sodium-glutamate (MSG) is added to many foods to add flavor. Unfortunately, it can also encourage inflammation. It’s a super common ingredient in pre-prepared Asian foods, soy sauce, salad dressings, pre-prepared soups, deli meats, and fast food.
If you eat these foods regularly, think about making your soups, salad dressings, and Asian-inspired dishes. It may take a little bit more time, but you’ll know that it’s free from MSG and a lot healthier in the bargain.