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8 Types of High-Inflammatory Foods You Should Know About

Updated: May 29

Your body relies on inflammation to keep you safe, but when it goes awry, it can wreak havoc on your well-being.

high-inflammatory foods

Scary, right?

Enter high-inflammatory foods – the culprits that can worsen chronic inflammation. They sneak into your diets with sugars, unhealthy fats, and tricky additives, throwing your body off balance.

As a health and stress management coach, I'm here to help you take charge of your health.

You can transform your health by understanding the impact of certain foods on your body.

Exciting, isn't it?

So stick around!

Table Of Contents

What Are Inflammatory Foods to Avoid?

When it comes to high-inflammatory foods, there are several main types that you should be aware of.

These include:

1) Refined sugars

Let's examine high refined sugars, like candies, cookies, and sugary drinks.

When you eat these treats, you rapidly absorb the sugar. And it causes your blood glucose levels to soar.

As a response, your pancreas releases insulin to counterbalance this surge.

And excessive refined sugars can lead to:

  • Weight gain

  • Insulin resistance

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Cardiovascular disease

2) Trans fats

Let’s deep dive into fried foods, packaged snacks, and baked goods, where trans fats reign.

These fats can raise "bad" cholesterol levels while diminishing "good" ones.

As a result, your arteries can become clogged. It might increase your risk of chronic inflammation, heart disease, and stroke.

3) Vegetable oils

Direct your attention to oils like corn, soybean, and sunflower. These oils contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids.

Vegetable oils

Yes, your body requires omega-6 fatty acids.

But an excessive intake, especially without balancing it with omega-3 fatty acid, can foster inflammation. It can play a part in health issues like arthritis, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

4) Processed meats

Delicious as they may be, processed meats like hot dogs, sausages, and deli meats harbor potential drawbacks.

These meats often contain significant amounts of sodium, unhealthy fats, and additives.

Consistently consuming processed meats heightens the risk of :

  • Heart diseases

  • Certain types of cancer (like stomach and bowel cancer)

  • Inflammation-related conditions (like arthritis)

Additionally, the additives and preservatives present in processed meats can exacerbate inflammation and negatively affect your well-being.

5) Artificial additives

Pay close attention to packaged foods, where artificial additives like sweeteners, flavor enhancers, and preservatives lurk.

They incorporate these additives to foods to enhance taste, appearance, and shelf life. These preservatives are typically synthetic.

And therefore can trigger inflammation and adverse reactions, leading to digestive issues, allergies and metabolic inbalances. These may be due to sensatives or allergies to these preservatives.

6) Excessive alcohol consumption

Alcohol can provoke inflammation and can damage your liver. It can potentially result in conditions like alcoholic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis.

Moreover, excessive alcohol intake weakens the immune system. Making it more difficult for the body to combat infections and diseases.

Also, it can hinder nutrient absorption, affect the digestive system, and heighten cancer risk.

7) Gluten

Let's explore gluten—it is present in wheat, barley, rye, and select grains.

Some may experience gluten sensitivity or celiac disease when consuming gluten.

Gluten can trigger an immune response damaging the small intestine's lining, leading to inflammation, digestive issues, fatigue, nutrient deficiencies, and other symptoms.

8) Dairy

Dairy, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are a few varieties to consider.

Dairy products can also trigger inflammation and discomfort for some individuals due to lactose intolerance or milk allergies.

The Harvard healthy eating plate recommends just 1-2 servings of dairy per day for those that can tolerate dairy well.

Symptoms may include bloating, gas, stomach pain, or skin issues like rashes or hives.

How to Combat Your Inflammation Naturally?

How to Combat Your Inflammation Naturally

Here are my tips when it comes to high-inflammatory foods:

Watch your portions

If you have high-inflammatory foods occasionally, try to eat them in smaller amounts. It msy reduce the impact of inflammation.

Balance your meals

Aim for a balanced diet with fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. It can help counteract the effects of high-inflammatory foods.

Choose healthier cooking methods

Try baking, boiling, steaming, or sautéing instead of deep-frying when you cook. It lowers the amount of unhealthy fats and can help decrease inflammation.

Read food labels

Take a moment to check the ingredient lists and nutrition facts on food packages. Look out for additives, trans fats, and refined sugars.

Be aware of hidden sources

High-inflammatory ingredients can hide in processed and packaged foods. Take your time to read labels and avoid products with trans fats, additives, or refined sugars.

Stay hydrated

Drinking sufficient water is important for your overall health. It helps flush out toxins and can even help reduce inflammation.

Stay hydrated

Find balance

While limiting high-inflammatory foods is essential, enjoying your favorite treats in moderation is okay. Completely cutting them out may make you feel restricted, which can lead to overindulgence later on.

These tips are a starting point for you to make healthier choices, but it's always best to talk to a healthcare professional for personalized advice that fits your specific needs.

High Inflammatory Foods (FAQs)

What are the 7 inflammatory foods?

There are 7 foods that can cause inflammation in our bodies:

  • Refined sugars (candies and cookies)

  • Trans fats (found in fried foods) and vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids

  • Dairy (milk, cheese, and yogurt)

  • Processed meats

  • Artificial additives

  • Excessive alcohol

  • Gluten for those with celiac disease or sensitivities.

What are the highest anti-inflammatory foods?

Some of the best foods to fight inflammation include:

  • Fatty fish (like salmon and sardines)

  • Berries (such as blueberries and strawberries)

  • Leafy green vegetables (like spinach and kale)

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Turmeric

  • Green tea

What foods help reduce inflammation?

To reduce inflammation, it's good to eat foods like:

  • Fruits (such as oranges and cherries)

  • Vegetables (like broccoli and bell peppers)

  • Whole grains (including oats and brown rice)

  • Legumes (like lentils and chickpeas)

  • Healthy fats (such as avocados oil and olive oil)

What is the fastest way to reduce inflammation in the body?

While there isn't a quick fix, some ways to reduce inflammation are:

  • Maintaining a balanced diet with lots of veggies, fruits, and whole foods

  • Exercising regularly

  • Managing stress

  • Getting enough sleep

  • Avoiding or limiting high-inflammatory foods and habits

Are eggs anti-inflammatory?

Eggs have a very small amount of omega-3's, the amount dependents on the type of egg/ hen that laid it (organic and pasture raised will likely be higher then conventional). However, they also contain arachidonic acid, which promotes inflammation in some.

Are bananas anti-inflammatory?

Yes, bananas contain compounds that can help reduce inflammation.

Is coconut water good for inflammation?

Coconut water contains electrolytes and antioxidants. It reduces inflammation and promotes hydration.

Is ginger good for inflammation?

Ginger has a natural anti-inflammatory component that can help reduce inflammation and ease discomfort.

Are apples anti-inflammatory?

Yes, apples contain antioxidants and fiber that can help reduce inflammation and promote overall health.

Is turmeric good for inflammation?

Yes, turmeric contains curcumin. It has potent anti-inflammatory effects when combined with black pepper to activate it, in the body.

Is lemon good for inflammation?

Lemons are rich in antioxidants (such as flavonoids) and Vitamin C. It can combat inflammation and support a healthy immune system.

Are cucumbers anti-inflammatory?

Cucumbers have high water content and contain antioxidants that reduce inflammation and promote hydration.

Is oatmeal inflammatory food?

No, oatmeal is not inherently inflammatory. It contains soluble fiber that can help reduce inflammation in the body.

What foods help reduce inflammation

Here are some of my related blogs that can help you fight inflammation:

What to do next?

Everyone's body is unique, so making choices that align with what feels right for you is essential. Notice which foods make you feel good and energized, and try to incorporate more of those into your diet.

No matter how small, every healthy choice is a step in the right direction. Celebrate your achievements and stay committed to your goals.

Follow me on Instagram @alexa.hanshaw for more!


About the Author

Alexa Hanshaw

Alexa Hanshaw is a health and stress management coach who helps women be the CEO of their stress. She empowers her clients to push past the confusion of the health and wellness industry to create lifestyle habits that bring them energy and work with their bodies instead of against it.

Join her free Facebook group, Be the CEO of Your Stress, and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube for quick, easy & healthy tips on stress, health, fitness, nutrition, sleep, and how to stay mindful!

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