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8 Inflammatory Foods To Avoid


Inflammation is a natural biological process of the body to defend itself from any foreign invasion or injury to the body.

The human body mounts an immune response to destroy foreign bodies such as viruses and bacteria.

However, this response to the foreign agents sometimes persists even when it is not required, resulting in chronic inflammation.

Sometimes the food we eat and the diets we adhere to can make it more likely for our bodies to be in a persistent state of mild inflammation.

To reduce any chronic inflammation, people often consume anti-inflammatory foods such as berries, fatty fish, broccoli, avocados, green tea, etc.

Diet has a direct impact on your body. Some foods cause or increase inflammation.

The benefits you derive from consuming anti-inflammatory foods would be negated if you consume food items promoting inflammation.

It is important to know the foods you should avoid to reduce your chances of inflammation and illness.

inflammatory foods to avoid

8 Inflammatory Foods To Avoid

  1. Added Sugars

    Our bodies are designed to digest small amounts of sugars. If the body receives high amounts of sugars, the immune system might get activated, considering it an invasion of the body.

    This is the reason why one should avoid extra sugars to prevent inflammation. Table sugar or sucrose combines 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose.

    Another type of sugar in our diets is HFCS which stands for High Fructose Corn Syrup. It consists of 45 percent of glucose and 55 percent of fructose.

    While glucose is easily digested by the body, excess amounts of fructose may be harmful as it is linked with various diseases such as obesity, diabetes, liver disease, and kidney disease.

    As per this research[1], fructose intake can be associated with inflammation in the lining of your blood vessels known as endothelial cells, increasing the risk of heart disease.

    Another study[2] on people who drank soda, water, and milk found that only those who drank soda had increased uric acid levels.

    This significant factor drives insulin resistance and inflammation. However, small amounts of fructose from fruits cause no harm to the body and can be safely consumed.

    One should avoid foods with excess sugar, such as doughnuts, cakes, cookies, and soft drinks. These ingredients are not necessarily harmful in moderation.

  2. Refined Carbohydrates

    Refined carbohydrates such as pasta, white rice, and white bread might drive inflammation, as stated by this study[3].

    Most of the fiber contents of refined carbohydrates are removed. Fiber enables the body to feel full for a longer time as it slows down the digestion process.

    It regulates the release of sugar directly into the blood. However, since most of the fiber is removed from refined carbohydrates it gives a rise to sugar in the blood.

    The result of this increase in sugar level is that the body activates the process of inflammation.

    Research[4] suggests that foods like pasta, white bread, and rice might encourage the growth of inflammatory gut bacteria leading to inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.

    Another research[5] conducted on people who ate 50 grams of refined carbs from white bread witnessed a spike in their blood pressure and an increase in inflammatory markers.

    Instead of consuming refined carbohydrates such as candy, bread, pasta, pastries, cereals, cookies, cakes, and sugary soft drinks, you may choose whole grain and nutritious foods.

  3. Artificial Trans Fat

    Artificial trans fats are incredibly unhealthy. Other than being a wrong choice if you want to control inflammation, trans fats increase bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol levels.

    They are listed as partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list of packaged foods.

    As per this study[6], consumption of artificial trans fats has resulted in inflammation and an increased risk of diseases.

    Research[7] has shown that other than lowering good cholesterol, artificial trans fats destroy endothelial cells which form the lining of your arteries, increasing the risk of heart issues.

    During the research, women who consumed higher amounts of trans fat witnessed 78 percent higher levels of a particular inflammatory marker.

    It was found that those who consumed hydrogenated soybean oil witnessed an increase in inflammation as compared to the ones who consumed palm oil.

    On the other hand, natural fats can be safely consumed in moderate amounts.

  4. Alcohol

    Excessive consumption of alcohol may result in several diseases. It is said that a high intake of alcohol is linked with irritation and inflammation of the esophagus, the larynx, and the liver.

    This research[8] shows that alcohol consumption increases a particular type of inflammatory marker known as CRP.

    Therefore, avoiding beers, ciders, liquors, and wines is better. You can replace it with healthy and refreshing drinks such as green tea, lemonades, and other non-alcoholic beverages.

    It is also one of the components that could lower testosterone if its consumption is abused.

  5. Processed Meat

    Processed meat like bacon, smoked meat, sausage, ham, and beef jerky are linked with diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stomach, and colon cancer.

    Hot dogs, pepperoni, and lunch meats contain salt, saturated fats, and synthetic nitrates, which may act as a factor in activating inflammation.

    Processed meats contain advanced glycation end products or AGEs. The amount of AGEs in processed meat is much higher[9] than in other meats.

    Advanced Glycation End products are formed from cooking at high temperatures and are known for causing inflammation.

    It is advisable to limit the consumption of processed meat if you want to reduce inflammation.

  6. Cooking Oils

    Vegetable oils and seed oils are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. In recent years, the consumption of cooking oils has increased rapidly, resulting in more[10] omega-6 fatty acids than required.

    Oils such as soybean oil have high omega-6 acids, which may promote inflammation. Experts suggest omega-3 fatty acids as beneficial for health.

    As per this experiment[11] conducted on rats, the rats who were fed omega 6 fatty acid-rich foods were found to have more inflammatory markers than the ones who were fed omega 3 fatty acids.

    However, experts also believe that more research is required in this field.

    It is safe to avoid food oils like polyunsaturated oils: cottonseed, grape seed, safflower, corn, and sunflower oils, as these are primarily used in processed foods.

    You can substitute these with macadamia oil or extra virgin olive oil.

  7. Feedlot Raised Meat

    Consuming feedlot-raised meat can become another reason for inflammation. Commercially produced meats are packed with soybeans and corns.

    These are rich in inflammation-promoting omega 6 fatty acids and contain lower amounts of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids.

    These animals accumulate saturated fats, which further deteriorate the nutrients in them. They are also injected with hormones and antibiotics, which makes it even worse.

    All these reasons may add up and result in inflammation. Hence, it is advisable to avoid beef, pork, and poultry from feedlot farms.

    You can replace them with organic free-range animals who are given free space to roam around. Instead[12] of hormones and antibiotics these are packed with omega-3 fatty acids.

  8. Artificial Food Additives

    As found in this study[13], some artificial food additives such as aspartame and MSG or monosodium glutamate trigger inflammatory responses.

    It can be worse for people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. rheumatoid arthritis. Aspartame and monosodium glutamate are only added to packaged foods.

    You can substitute them with natural sweeteners, or you may avoid packaged foods.

    Rather than relying on artificial food additives, you can also add anti-inflammatory herbs and spices to add flavor to your food.

The Essence

Inflammation is necessary for the body to counter foreign invasions.

But when this immune response remains active even when the target foreign agent is destroyed, it becomes a problem and results in chronic inflammation.

To avoid chronic inflammation or to reduce inflammation, several foods might help, such as fatty fish, berries, turmeric, nuts, avocados, etc.

It is necessary to know what you must avoid. Added sugars, refined carbs, artificial trans fats, alcohol, and processed and feedlot-raised foods, including artificial sweeteners, should be avoided.

They may be replaced with alternatives. Inflammation may also be caused by some uncontrollable factors such as pollution.

It is easy to control your diet. So it is safer to avoid foods that trigger inflammation to stay healthy.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. George A Bray , Samara Joy Nielsen, Barry M Popkin. Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Apr;79(4):537-43.doi: 10.1093/ajcn/79.4.537. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15051594/
  2. J M Bruun , M Maersk , A Belza , et al. Consumption of sucrose-sweetened soft drinks increases plasma levels of uric acid in overweight and obese subjects: a 6-month randomised controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 Aug;69(8):949-53.doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.95. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26081486/
  3. Ian Spreadbury. Comparison with ancestral diets suggests dense acellular carbohydrates promote an inflammatory microbiota, and may be the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity .Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes.2012;5:175-89.doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S33473. Epub 2012 Jul 6. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22826636/
  4. Laura J Dixon , Amrita Kabi, Kourtney P Nickerson. Combinatorial effects of diet and genetics on inflammatory bowel disease pathogenesis.
    Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2015 Apr;21(4):912-22.doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000289. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25581832/
  5. Scott Dickinson , Dale P Hancock, Peter Petocz, et al. High-glycemic index carbohydrate increases nuclear factor-kappaB activation in mononuclear cells of young, lean healthy subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1188-93.doi: 10.1093/ajcn/87.5.1188. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18469238/
  6. Paul Nestel. Trans fatty acids: are its cardiovascular risks fully appreciated? Clin Ther. 2014 Mar 1;36(3):315-21. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2014.01.020. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24636816/
  7. Esther Lopez-Garcia , Matthias B Schulze, James B Meigs, et al. Consumption of trans fatty acids is related to plasma biomarkers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. J Nutr. 2005 Mar;135(3):562-6.doi: 10.1093/jn/135.3.562. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15735094/
  8. Andreia Oliveira , Fernando Rodríguez-Artalejo, Carla Lopes. Alcohol intake and systemic markers of inflammation–shape of the association according to sex and body mass index. Alcohol Alcohol. Mar-Apr 2010;45(2):119-25.doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agp092. Epub 2010 Jan 18. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20083478/
  9. Jaime Uribarri, Sandra Woodruff, Susan Goodman, et al. Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jun;110(6):911-16.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.03.018. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20497781/
  10. E Patterson, R Wall, G F Fitzgerald, R P Ross, C Stanton. Health implications of high dietary omega-6 polyunsaturated Fatty acids. J Nutr Metab. 2012;2012:539426. doi: 10.1155/2012/539426. Epub 2012 Apr 5. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22570770/
  11. Li Gang Yang, Zhi Xiu Song, Hong Yin, et al. Low n-6/n-3 PUFA Ratio Improves Lipid Metabolism, Inflammation, Oxidative Stress and Endothelial Function in Rats Using Plant Oils as n-3 Fatty Acid Source. Lipids. 2016 Jan;51(1):49-59.doi: 10.1007/s11745-015-4091-z. Epub 2015 Nov 2. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26526061/
  12. Micah S. Most and Dustin T. Yates. Inflammatory Mediation of Heat Stress-Induced Growth Deficits in Livestock and Its Potential Role as a Target for Nutritional Interventions: A Review. Animals (Basel). 2021 Dec; 11(12): 3539. Published online 2021 Dec 13. doi: 10.3390/ani11123539
  13. Arnab Banerjee, Sandip Mukherjee, and Bithin Kumar Maji. Worldwide flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate combined with high lipid diet provokes metabolic alterations and systemic anomalies: An overview. Toxicol Rep. 2021; 8: 938–961. Published online 2021 Apr 29. doi: 10.1016/j.toxrep.2021.04.009

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