10 of the Worst Inflammatory Foods to Avoid to Help Improve Health

1. White sugar is one of the worst inflammatory foods to avoid

Sugar is found everywhere; in soft drinks, candies, snacks, pastries and fast foods to name but a few. It can result in tooth decay and is linked to type 2 diabetes along with a higher risk of obesity and heart-related diseases.

In 2011, Lustig and Garber conducted a study to find out if fast food was addictive when soda was included. They saw that the sugar intake increased ten-fold when soda accompanied fast food.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.2174/1874473711104030146

What to do: Essentially, there are a few alternatives you can consider. For sweetening foods and drinks, you can opt for honey, molasses or stevia. For use on desserts or a snack, fruit preserves (with no added sugar), such as fresh or dried fruits, dates, and berries can help you satisfy your sweet tooth. These also come with the added benefit of supplying you with fiber, vitamins and much needed antioxidants.

2. Trans fat is one of the worst inflammatory foods to avoid

Not only do trans fats increase levels of bad cholesterol, at the same time they reduce the good cholesterol levels too. There is also an association between trans fats and obesity, degenerative diseases, and inflammation.

A study on the effects of trans fats on insulin resistance showed that just one meal can raise the insulin resistance in overweight individuals.2✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1016/j.metabol.2005.06.015

What to do: Avoid packaged goods that contain trans fats or have hydrogenated oil or vegetable shortening in the ingredients. Check the product labels and look for alternatives that contain none of these. Other trans fats include: doughnuts, cookies, pies, cakes that have been processed using shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oil.

3. Dairy products can cause inflammation in people who are intolerant

Although we think of milk as being one of the healthiest things we can drink, up to 60% of the population in the world are actually unable to digest it. Milk can also lead to constipation, diarrhea, skin rashes and stomach distress.

Dairy products can also contain partially hydrogenated oils which are a trans-fat, and apart from butter and cheese etc., they can be found in cookies, boxed cereals, cakes, and crackers. A prospective study on dairy and Type 2 Diabetes also showed negative effects.3✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1007/s00125-014-3176-1

What to do: There are several alternatives to dairy milk which are currently available, and you can use rice or organic soy milk. Although it is recommended to use unsweetened almond milk, because this can have an alkalizing effect when consumed.

Although you should use an alternative to milk, cultured dairy products like yogurt, sour cream and kefir are fine, but just be sure to choose the unsweetened ones.

4. Refined grains are one of the worst inflammatory foods to avoid

When grains become refined, they have had most of the bran removed, and along with this, many of the nutrients and vitamins. Due to the extent of which refined grains are used in the food industry, you will find them in products like: white flour, noodles, pasta, and pastries.

When they are consistently eaten, they can bring on the effects of heart disease, diabetes, and cancers. A study was conducted by Moyer on the buildup of belly fat and how it affected stress in overweight women, where the incorporation of refined grains was also studied.4✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1002/j.1550-8528.1994.tb00055.x

What to do: Swap to whole grains, these are considered to be a much healthier option, as they contain higher levels of fiber which can help stabilize your blood sugar levels. To add more whole grains to your diet, include oatmeal for breakfast, whole grain bread in place of white, and whole grain pasta and side dishes like brown or wild rice.

5. Artificial food additives are inflammatory

Food additives can be found in packaged foods; these consist of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame. These have been reported to trigger inflammation, even more so in people that already suffer from arthritis.

MSG has been associated with palpitations of the heart, muscle weakness, and numbness. To further prove the ill effects MSG can cause, a study found constant consumption of products that contain MSG can lead to obesity, inflammation in the liver and heart disease.5✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1016/j.jaut.2007.11.016

]What to do: It is nearly impossible to eliminate MSG from your diet entirely as it can be found in most commercially prepared packaged foods; other main culprits include restaurants and Chinese takeaways.

When shopping, check the labels for any indication of MSG being present. The only sure way to avoid MSG is to use natural ingredients when cooking, and avoid buying any flavored mixes, processed flavored products or sauces.

6. Excessive alcohol use is inflammatory

Regular consumption of alcohol is known to have many detrimental effects, such as inflammation of the liver and larynx. Additionally, if there is repeated inflammation at these sites, there is a likelihood of tumor growth which could lead to cancer.

There are many other illnesses that can occur from repeated drinking. A study was conducted in 2008 by Moreno, on patients with chronic alcohol abuse, and how it affected their intake of essential nutrients, leading to distinctive malnourishment.

What to do: Although you may not like the idea of quitting alcohol altogether, you would see a great benefit in the reduction. If you drink with meals, 2 glasses of red wine per day for men, or 1 glass per day for women is the recommended amount.

7. Vegetable cooking oils are one of the worst inflammatory foods to avoid

The commonly used cooking oils in restaurants and homes contain high amounts of Omega – 6 and very low levels of Omega – 3 fatty acids. Over exposure to omega – 6 leads to inflammation and is directly linked to heart disease and cancer.

Some of the oils that fall into this group are sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, and grapeseed oil, as these are manufactured for industrial use, and will be found in most packaged foods and takeaways.

A group of scientists conducted tests in 2014, which showed the negative effects of heated vegetable oils and the risk factors associated with heart disease by constant use.6✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1016/j.vph.2014.02.004

What to do: It would be wise to change your cooking oils to more edible cooking oils like avocado, olive oil or coconut oil. These contain a healthier ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 and can also bring other health benefits. They can be heated safely, too.

8. Processed meat is one of the worst inflammatory foods to avoid

There is a molecule in red meat called Neu5Gc, and this is not naturally produced by our bodies. Once this compound has been introduced into humans, the body will develop an antibody against it.

This can start a reaction and cause inflammation that has been linked to both cancer and heart disease. The links to these diseases are even stronger in processed meats.

It has caught so much attention that the International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a press release on the likelihood of red meat and processed meat being carcinogenic to humans.7✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.11.031

What to do: There is no need to quit eating red meat, but it should be limited to once per week if possible. Try changing to chicken or fish and seafood as an alternative. Processed meats, on the other hand, have no safe level, so it is advisable to not eat these at all. When buying meats, always choose the leanest cuts on offer, and meat that has been grass-fed or organically raised.

9. Grain fed red meat from feedlot animals is one of the worst inflammatory foods to avoid

A feedlot is an animal feeding operation in commercial animal farming. Essentially, the process contains the animals in large pens instead of being able to roam free. The reason for this is to increase the size of the animals before slaughtering.

Most of the feeds they are given are grains high in omega-6 and low in omega-3 fatty acids. As a result, the confined living conditions promote the animals to end up with high saturated fat levels, and they are injected with hormones and antibiotics to help them grow faster and not become sick.

A current study by Simopoulos shows the direct link of an Omega-6 and Omega-3 imbalance to obesity in humans.8✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.3181/0711-MR-311

What to do: When buying meat, always look for organic or free range fed animals, because these have a natural diet of grass rather than grains. They grow leaner and contain less saturated fats. The adage, “You are what you eat,” is especially true for meats.

10. Gluten can cause inflammation in people who are intolerant

This mostly affects people who have celiac disease which is an autoimmune reaction brought on by gluten, although there are results of people without this disease being affected by gluten. Gut inflammation is caused by the irritants that wheat proteins consist of.

A scientific review regarding non-celiac gluten sensitivity reported there is a large percentage of people who report problems, even though they don’t suffer from celiac disease.9✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2014.869996

What to do: If you are gluten intolerant, it’s important for you to check product labels unless specified as gluten free: most bread, cakes, candies, and pasta need to be avoided. Products made with corn, rice or any other grains that are gluten free are safe to consume.

10 Of The Worst Inflammatory Foods To Avoid To Help Improve Health