Many foods can contribute to inflammation and chronic disease, including foods high in added sugar, refined carbohydrates, fried foods, alcohol, and meats cooked at high temperatures.

Inflammation can be good or bad, depending on the situation. For one thing, it’s your body’s natural way of protecting itself when you’re injured or sick. It can help your body defend itself against disease and stimulate healing. On the other hand, chronic and sustained inflammation is linked to an increased risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Interestingly, the foods you eat can have a significant impact on inflammation in your body.

Here are 5 foods that can cause inflammation.

1. Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup

Table sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are the two main types of added sugar in the Western diet. Sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose, while high fructose corn syrup is approximately 45% glucose and 55% fructose. One of the reasons added sugars are harmful is that they can increase inflammation, which can lead to disease.

In one study, mice fed a diet high in sucrose developed breast cancer that spread to their lungs, in part due to the inflammatory response to sugar. In another 2011 study, the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids were impaired in mice fed a high-sugar diet. Additionally, in a randomized clinical trial in which people drank regular soda, diet soda, milk, or water, only people in the regular soda group had increased levels of uric acid, which promotes inflammation and insulin resistance. Sugar can also be harmful because it provides excessive amounts of fructose. While the small amounts of fructose found in fruits and vegetables are acceptable, consuming large amounts of added sugars may have negative health effects. Consuming a high amount of fructose has been linked to obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, fatty liver disease, cancer and chronic kidney disease.

Similarly, high fructose intake has been shown to increase several inflammatory markers in mice and humans. Foods high in added sugar include candy, chocolate, soft drinks, cakes, cookies, donuts, sweet pastries and some cereals.

2. Fried foods

In addition to being high in fat and calories, fried foods like french fries, mozzarella sticks, donuts, and spring rolls can also increase inflammation levels in the body.
This is because certain high-temperature cooking methods, including frying, can increase the production of harmful compounds such as advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which can promote inflammation and contribute to chronic disease. Frying can also increase the amount of trans fats in cooking oils, which can also promote inflammation. Some research suggests that fried foods may influence the composition of the gut microbiome, which could increase inflammation levels. Additionally, other studies have shown that eating fried foods may be associated with an increased risk of developing and dying from heart disease.

3. Refined carbohydrates

Although carbohydrates have a bad reputation, many carbohydrate-rich foods are very nutritious and can be part of a balanced diet. However, consuming excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates can cause inflammation. Refined carbs have had most of their fiber removed. Fiber promotes satiety, improves blood sugar control, and feeds beneficial bacteria in your gut. Researchers suggest that refined carbohydrates in the modern diet may encourage the growth of inflammatory gut bacteria that may increase the risk of obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.

Refined carbohydrates have a higher glycemic index (GI) than unprocessed carbohydrates. High GI foods raise blood sugar faster than low GI foods. In one study, children and adolescents with cystic fibrosis who followed a low-GI diet for 3 months experienced a significant reduction in markers of inflammation compared to a control group. Another study found similar results, reporting that a low-GI diet could reduce levels of interleukin-6, a marker of inflammation, more effectively than a high-GI diet in people with diabetes. Refined carbs are found in candy, bread, pasta, pastries, some cereals, cookies, cakes, sugary soft drinks, and any processed foods that contain added sugar or flour.

4. Excess alcohol

Moderate alcohol consumption may have certain health benefits. However, higher amounts can cause serious problems. In a 2010 study, levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation, increased in people who consumed alcohol. People who drank more than two glasses a day had the highest CRP levels. People who drink heavily may have problems with bacterial toxins leaving the colon and entering the body. This condition – often called “leaky gut,” can cause widespread inflammation that leads to organ damage. To avoid alcohol-related health problems, consumption should be limited to two standard drinks per day for men and one for women (37Trusted Source).

5. Meat cooked at high temperature

Eating high-cooked meats, including processed meats like bacon, sausages, ham, and smoked meats, is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Other high temperature cooking methods include broiling, barbecuing, roasting, frying, broiling and searing.

Cooking meats at high temperatures leads to the formation of inflammatory compounds called AGEs. In addition to promoting inflammation, EFAs are also believed to contribute to chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, marinating meats in acidic solutions, such as lemon juice or vinegar, before grilling or roasting, can halve the amount of AGEs. Another way to minimize AGE formation is to cook meats for shorter periods of time and opt for moist-heat cooking methods, including boiling, steaming, poaching, or stewing.

Inflammation can occur in response to many triggers, some of which are difficult to prevent, such as pollution, injury, or illness. However, you have much more control over factors like your diet. To stay as healthy as possible, reduce inflammation by minimizing your intake of foods that trigger it and eating anti-inflammatory foods.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.