There is no doubt that diet plays a central role in regulating inflammation. In fact, a 2017 survey found that almost a quarter of people with rheumatoid arthritis said their diet had an impact on the severity of symptoms. Even for people without an autoimmune disease, limiting some of the top inflammation-causing foods can be incredibly beneficial for overall health.

What exactly is inflammation?

Inflammation is considered a defense mechanism used by the body to protect itself against disease and infection. Although inflammation is a normal part of the immune process, more and more research shows that chronic inflammation can contribute to disease, trigger pain and increase the risk of serious problems, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

What foods cause inflammation?

In this article, we’ll look at some of the inflammation-causing foods that should be avoided, as well as some healthy substitutes that you can incorporate into your diet.

The 7 main foods responsible for inflammation

Several ingredients have been shown to trigger inflammation and negatively impact overall health. Here are some of the top inflammation-causing foods.

1. Fried foods

Fried foods such as donuts or chips are high in trans fatty acids, an unhealthy type of fatty acid that has been linked to a long list of side effects. In addition to raising cholesterol levels and increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, trans fatty acids can also trigger inflammation. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, increased intake of trans fatty acids is associated with higher levels of inflammation markers, including C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). ).

2. Processed meat

Processed meat is any type of meat that has been smoked, salted, dried, or canned to improve flavor or extend shelf life. Among the most common examples are cold cuts, bacon, salami, sausage. Not only has processed meat been recently classified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization, but it can also contribute to inflammation. Studies show that eating processed meat may be linked to higher levels of CRP, a marker used to measure inflammation in the body.

3. Alcohol

Although certain types of alcohol (like red wine) may be beneficial in moderation, excessive alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for inflammation. Studies show that drinking large amounts of alcohol can increase certain inflammatory markers, including CRP. Additionally, drinking alcohol can also increase the risk of leaky gut syndrome, a condition in which toxins and food particles leak out of the digestive tract into the bloodstream, causing widespread inflammation.

4. Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates such as pasta, white bread, cookies, and crackers are known to be among the top foods responsible for joint inflammation. These foods undergo extensive processing that robs them of beneficial nutrients, such as fiber. Refined carbohydrates also tend to have a higher glycemic index, which is used to measure how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Research shows that eating foods with a high glycemic index can increase inflammation, even in healthy adults. In contrast, studies show that replacing refined grains with whole grains may reduce inflammation and protect against chronic disease.

5. Artificial sweeteners

Often found in low-calorie foods and diet products, some research suggests that artificial sweeteners may be to blame for inflammation. Although more human research is needed, studies indicate that artificial sweeteners can disrupt the health of the gut microbiome, which plays a key role in regulating inflammation.
An animal model also revealed that regular consumption of sucralose could cause liver inflammation in mice.

6. Vegetable oils

Heavily processed or refined vegetable oils are very high in omega-6 fatty acids. Although omega-6 fatty acids are an important part of a healthy diet, consuming a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids can trigger inflammation. While experts generally recommend aiming for an omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of around 4:1, most people consume a 15:1 ratio instead. Therefore, limiting your intake of refined vegetable oils while adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet can help relieve inflammation.

7. High Fructose Corn Syrup

High-fructose corn syrup is a type of sweetener often found in processed foods, including sodas, juices, candies, and ice cream. Just like regular sugar, high fructose corn syrup ranks high on the inflammatory foods chart and can negatively affect nearly every aspect of health. A Boston study found that women who consumed more sugary drinks had a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the joints. Another study published in Nutrition & Diabetes also showed that increased consumption of beverages containing high fructose corn syrup was associated with a higher risk of arthritis in adults aged 20 to 30.

Anti-Inflammatory Food Changes

In addition to limiting your intake of inflammation-causing foods from the list above, it may be beneficial to incorporate a variety of inflammation-reducing foods into your diet.

A healthy, well-balanced anti-inflammatory diet should consist primarily of nutrient-dense whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Herbs, spices, healthy fats, and proteins also make the list of anti-inflammatory foods. To get started, it’s easy to make a few simple changes to your diet. Try replacing processed meats, for example, with healthier protein sources, such as fish, poultry, eggs or legumes.

You can also ditch the deep fryer and try cooking your own fries or veggie crisps instead. Try replacing refined carbs like white rice, pasta, or bread with whole-grain varieties to easily improve your diet.

Here are some of the best anti-inflammatory foods to include in your diet plan:

Fruits: peaches, pineapple, mangoes, apples, berries, pears, oranges.
Vegetables: broccoli, kale, spinach, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, watercress, tomatoes, garlic.
Nuts and seeds: pistachios, macadamia nuts, almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds
Legumes: black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, navy beans, peas
Whole grains: quinoa, couscous, farro, millet, buckwheat, barley
Proteins: salmon, chicken, turkey, eggs, tempeh
Healthy fats: coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, avocados
Herbs and spices: turmeric, black pepper, rosemary, basil, oregano, cayenne pepper, dill.


Research shows that chronic inflammation can contribute to serious illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
What foods cause inflammation? The most inflammatory foods to avoid are fried foods, processed meats, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, and high fructose corn syrup. In contrast, a diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods can help reduce inflammation and protect against disease.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are great options you can incorporate into a nutritious anti-inflammatory diet.

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