Inflammation has been getting a lot of attention in the health and wellness world lately, and rightfully so. Chronic inflammation can have a profound impact on your overall health, and taking steps to reduce this effect may result in some majorly positive outcomes. If you are wondering what chronic inflammation actually is, how certain foods may trigger or contribute to inflammation, and which items are considered inflammatory foods, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this important topic.
Unlike acute inflammation, which is a short-term effect immediately experienced when there is an infection or tissue damage (like a deep cut on your body), chronic inflammation is slow, long-lasting, and isn’t necessarily localized. Essentially, with chronic inflammation, this effect is going on for too long.
Why is this a problem? While an acute response of inflammation can help the body combat a “foreign” object (like a splinter) or unwanted germs, chronic inflammation, over time, can lead to tissue damage and is linked to some unsavory side-effects, like hypertension, hyperglycemia, type 2 diabetes,, cardiovascular disease, various types of cancer, depression, and osteoporosis.
What is chronic inflammation?
Chronic inflammation can be triggered by many factors, including autoimmune disorders, exposure to certain chemicals, and an infection that was not treated properly. And along with many factors that are not under your control, other factors that you can control–like your dietary choices, can impact your chronic inflammation risk as well.
While certain anti-inflammatory diets, like the Mediterranean Diet, are linked to reduced low-grade inflammation, the Western-style diet, which is rich in fried and processed foods, is associated with the opposite effect. Other foods may impact one’s risk of experiencing chronic low-grade inflammation as well.
Eating a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and polyphenols is typically recommended for those who want to reduce their chronic low-grade inflammation risk. In contrast, low consumption of fruits and vegetables and a diet rich in pro-inflammatory foods is linked to this condition.
How might foods trigger or contribute to inflammation?
Want to know which foods are pro-inflammatory? Here are 11 foods that may cause inflammation if they are consumed in abundance.
Inflammatory foods to avoid
Margarine is a go-to for people who are avoiding butter but still want a creamy and rich spread on their morning toast. But, as Michelle Routhenstein, MS, RDN, CDE, CDN, registered dietitian at Entirely Nourished shares, “Margarine is an ultra-processed food that can cause inflammation in the body and negatively impact cardiovascular health.”
If you need a topping for your bread, try adding a drizzle of high-quality olive oil, like Brightland Olive Oil, instead of margarine.
Sure, sugar-sweetened beverages are delicious and can satisfy a sweet tooth. But, Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, dietitian at One Pot Wellness shares that “Sugar-sweetened beverages have been shown in recent studies to increase chronic inflammation in the body by releasing pro-inflammatory cytokines”.
For soda lovers, opting for a pop that is made with less sugar than traditional sodas, like OLIPOP, may offer some benefit.
Certain fried foods can produce a compound called acrylamide, and some data suggests that high consumption of this compound is linked to inflammation. In this research, it’s french fries that had a stronger link to negative effects than others.