Inflammation can be good or bad, depending on the situation. On one hand, it’s your body’s natural way of protecting itself when you are injured or sick. It can help your body defend itself from foreign invaders and can stimulate healing. On the other hand, chronic, sustained inflammation in the body can be harmful. Interestingly, the foods you eat can have a major effect on inflammation in your body.
Here are six foods that can cause inflammation.
sugar and high-fructose corn syrup
Added sugars cause increased inflammation that can lead to disease, such as obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, fatty liver disease, cancer, and chronic kidney disease. High-fructose corn syrup causes inflammation within the endothelial cells that line your blood vessels.
artificial trans fats
In addition to lowering beneficial HDL cholesterol, trans fats have been shown to impair the function of the endothelial cells lining the arteries. Ingestion of artificial trans fats has been linked with high levels of inflammatory markers such as interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and C-reactive protein (CRP).
vegetable and seed oils
Unlike virgin olive oil and coconut oil, vegetable and seed oils—such as corn, safflower, sunflower, canola, peanut, sesame, and soybean oils—are often extracted from foods through the use of solvents such as hexane, a component of gasoline. Sounds yummy, right? In addition to being highly processed, these oils promote inflammation as a result of their very high omega-6 fatty acid content.
Researchers report that the refined carbohydrates in our modern diet may encourage the growth of inflammatory gut bacteria that can increase risk of obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. Refined carbohydrates have a higher glycemic index (GI) than unprocessed carbohydrates. High-GI foods raise blood sugar more rapidly than low-GI foods do.
In one study, the inflammatory marker CRP increased in people who consumed alcohol. The more alcohol they consumed, the more their CRP increased. People who drink heavily often develop problems with bacteria moving out of the colon and into the body. This condition, often called “leaky gut,” can drive widespread inflammation that leads to organ damage.
Consuming processed meat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stomach cancer, and colon cancer. Processed meat contains more advanced glycation end products (AGEs) than most other meats. AGEs are formed by cooking meats and some other foods at high temperatures. They are known to cause inflammatory changes that can lead to disease, especially colon cancer.