Top 6 Foods that Cause Inflammation

by Terry Perry on December 21, 2010

Last week, we laid the foundation for understanding the importance and dangers of inflammation. This week we are going to look at the top 6 foods that cause a pro-inflammatory response.

Eating to Decrease Inflammation

When you eat, your body produces substances called prostaglandins from nutrients in your food. These substances can be either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. Imbalances in your diet can lead to the creation of excessive amounts of inflammatory prostaglandins, which fuel the inflammatory response. On the other hand, consuming foods with certain nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and phytonutrients can produce more anti-inflammatory prostaglandins that reduce inflammation and improve health. (more on this next week)

What are Some Pro-Inflammatory Foods?

Pro-inflammatory foods may increase inflammation, pain and swelling from inflammation and may also raise you risk for chronic disease. Some of these include:

  1. Foods high saturated fat. Saturated fat is found in high fat meat, dairy products, and eggs. These foods also contain a substance called arachidonic acid. While some arachidonic acid is essential for health, too much can cause inflammation. Since these foods are also sources of important nutrients, vitamins and minerals, choose low fat dairy products and lean meats.Hamburgers are high in Saturated Fat
  2. Processed meats such as lunch meat, hot dogs, and sausage contain nitrites that increase inflammation and contribute to the chronic disease process.Sausage contains nitrites which can lead to inflammation
  3. Trans Fats – Processed foods containing Trans fat increases inflammation. These include foods like processed baked goods, chips and snack foods, and deep fried fast food. Limit your intake of processed and fried foods that contain trans-fat.cookie, high in trans fat, can cause inflammation
  4. Coffee – A recent Greek study showed that coffee drinkers who have more than 1 cup a day have increased levels of C Reactive Protein. Men had a 30% increase and women had a 38% increase in CRP levels. Since coffee drinkers also tend to smoke more, exercise less, and eat fewer fruits and vegetables more studies need to be done to establish coffee as an independent risk factor.Coffee can cause inflammation
  5. Cooking foods at high temperatures results in a browning effect, where sugars and certain oxidized fats react with proteins to form glycotoxins in the food. Glycotoxins are known to be inflammatory and form in the skin, arteries, joints, cartilage and other places in the body. Avoiding foods cooked at high temperatures also helps prevent the formation of numerous gene mutating toxins that are known to be carcinogens. Some of these foods are: French fries, hamburgers, other deep fried foods, and chips.Charred hotdogs can lead to inflammation
  6. High Glycemic index Carbohydrates – these foods cause excess production of insulin which incites the inflammatory process by producing arachidonic acid. These are quickly digested carbohydrates such as foods with high concentrations of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, refined baked goods and snacks, and soft drinks. Many of these foods are also high in Trans fats.Soda Pop. High Glycemic foods cause inflammation

Such a list is certainly not meant to be exhaustive but is a good indication of the general categories of foods one can avoid to lessen the impacts of inflammation. Thanks for reading and I hope this has been helpful!

Tune in next week and we’ll look at 6 healthy habits to follow to decrease your level of inflammation .

Terry Perry, RD – Registered Dietitian

Terry is a Spokane native and received her B.S in Food and Nutrition from Eastern Washington University. She has worked as a Registered Dietitian for the last 25 years in the field of Nutrition Education and Disease Prevention. Terry began her dietetics career at Holy Family Hospital and served as Chief Clinical Dietitian, she has been on staff with The American Cancer Society, and the Washington State Dairy Council. For the past 15 years she has worked as a Private Nutrition Consultant to the Washington Dairy Farmers, the YMCA, The Wellness Workshop, KXLY television, as well as a local media spokesperson, a featured newspaper columnist, and conference speaker. From 1991-2006 Terry was a Nutrition Consultant in private practice at South Hill Family Medicine, she is now a coordinator for Washington State Universities Food $ense program. Terry is a member of the American Dietetic Association, The Greater Spokane Dietetic Association, and the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Practice Group. She is also a member of The Healthy Families/Active Kids Coalition, a community consortium that works to promote healthy lifestyles for children and families in the Inland Empire.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin January 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Wow, I did not know about that, thank you. Your blog is pretty good, keep up the good work and happy new year.


Ryan January 28, 2011 at 4:09 am

Oh wow, here I am trying to be healthier and workout. And I just found out I am not supposed to be eating sausage… LOL

I guess I better go stock my fridge with better sources of protein!
Thanks for the read!


Davy January 31, 2011 at 11:26 am

Your article helped me. Thank you!


Andrew February 9, 2011 at 7:20 am

Thanks for posting. I’m gonna have to keep that in mind now.


Chris April 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I just stumbled across this and I’m SO glad I did. Thanks for all the useful info!


Linda April 2, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Really a nice tips. I like it.



Dane April 28, 2011 at 1:34 am

Wow, great reminder for eating healthy foods. Are those burnt hotdogs or what? Yuck!


Delfina Toellner July 19, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I am so glad i came across this page..thank you so much for all the useful information.I need someone like you to help with eating healthy.


Ginny August 15, 2011 at 2:05 am

Terry I’m so glad I found you! I’ve been struggling with Iritis for 1 yr now. Everytime I try to wean off the cortizone/steriod eye drops the Iritis reoccurs. Eye specialists just insists I keep doing the drops even though the side affects are horrible. I figure if my eye gets inflammed, my body must be inflammed. It looks like the foods I’ve been eating are considered inflammatory or maybe I’m allergic. I will be checking back with you daily. Hoping I’ll find an answer from you. May you be showered with blessings. Thank you :)


Rose October 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I have read this page because I have chronic inflammatory conditions and was hoping to learn what foods to avoid. however, I already dont eat these foods and /or very rarely eat perhaps one or two. I rarely have take aways. once or twice a year. I dont eat sausages. its a puzzle to me. how can i improve my condition if there isnt anything to change…………? my one indulgence is coffee, but that is not to the extreme. Perhaps there may be some other “natural” rememedies I might discover.
thank you for the article, it may be useful for some.
Its often a case of trial and error.


Mathew October 20, 2011 at 12:16 am

Thanks for the excellent info! I will be changing some eating habits because of you :) Thanks again!


Chris November 19, 2011 at 6:47 am

I have all over body pain that was so bad I thought I would have to quit work. I went on a plant based veagan diet. It has been five months and I am so much better. At times i will have something small that I shouldnt have like gluten or piece of meat. Every time now it will take two days to recover. I had a glass of wine and fried squid with friends at happy hour. I had an all body flare and the worst pain. it started in my ankles and went all the way to my jaw. all from food. I juice carrots and granny smith apples every day. It gives me and my husband so much energy and less pain. no sugar, gluten, wheat, meat, milk and milk products. Lots of vegetables, dried figs, nuts, etc. I am doing good. Yesterday I had such a bad reaction i had to take steriods. hope this helps someone.


Jim January 18, 2012 at 9:24 pm

You information here is very suspect. I just finished reading 3 books in inflammation and your info here needs updating.

First of all, saturated fat is not very inflammatory. Actually, as far as inflammation goes
here is a list a meats in the order of their AA (causes inflammation) content.

Worst to Best
1. Farm Raised Salmon – horrible for you.
2. Fatty Pork
3. Fatty Turkey
4. Fatty chicken
5. Lean Turkey
6. Lean chicken or pork – (tie)
7. Fatty lamb
8. Fatty beef
9. Lean lamb
10. Lean beef
(Source: :Inflammation Nation” By Floyd Chilton and others as well.

Also, anything that raises your blood sugar quickly is pro-inflammatory – bread, cereals, juice, sugar etc.

The best diet or your heart just happens to be the best diet against inflammation (remember we now know heart disease is related to inflammation – not cholesterol or saturated fat). This diet is fairly strict Paleo diet eating only grass fed beef, lamb and naturally raised pork. Paleo also means as much low-carb veges as you want and moderate fruit intake, but no juice as it raises your blood sugar exactly the same as same as a sugary soda does.


Mt. Capra January 19, 2012 at 7:22 pm


Thanks for adding to the discussion here. This article is address a bit more mainstream research/science which still has much to learn from the alternative medicine field. Thanks again!



Milie March 10, 2012 at 1:04 am

The enclosed note is see if you can identiy my problem. I sufer from athritis psoriasis and have pain all over my body most of time. I never had high blodd pressure and recently my bp is showing indications of prehypertension. Im not in treatment for my arthritis avoiding taking meds that would cause additional problems instead I take Naproxen or ibuprofen. I recently became aware of Naproxen and high b/p. How long before my B/p return to normal? and what is in new for my prob without altering my B/p.


Mt. Capra March 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Hi Carmen,

Sorry but we really cant be diagnosing conditions. Ever. Especially not in this comments section.

My advice is to find a really open minded MD or ND would can give you good medical advice.


Rosalina Navarro May 27, 2012 at 1:33 am

I want to form eating habits that reduce inflammation. Thank you.
Sincerely Yours,
Rosalina Navarro


paul June 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Wife has mixed connective tissue disease. She has pain in most of her joints. Both knees replaced and a hip. She isn’t even 45. We will keep foods you say out of her diet, any other foods that would help her would be great. Doctors never talk about foods that would help her.


Mt. Capra July 27, 2012 at 3:46 am

Hi Paul,

Its true! I once had a doctor who proudly announce that he only took 1 credit of nutrition during his whole time at medical school. Kind of a shame if you ask me…


Barbara December 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Hello and greetings I have a highly reliable recommendation if you really want information about inflammation, heart disease and nutrition first watch this video: Forks over Knives(two doctors go into extensive detail about the benefits of a plant based diet that keeps the body at it’s optimum performance and keeps it safe and guarded from the diseases that plague America)…Frankly not only will it change your entire perspective on food but also will it open your eyes to the damage of the American diet.

Next if you would like to even go further, the same doctor T. Cambell who takes part in the documentary, has done extensive research on nutrition….its AMAZING!!!!! It’s called The China Study. The truth is inflammation, high blood pressure, heart disease and many other health issues are caused or cured by…your diet.
The more you know the better decisions you are able to make!
I wish you good health and perseverance.


Kevin August 21, 2012 at 4:07 am

Thank you for your information. I have been suffering from a skin condition for over 117 years. I have narrowed it down to certain foods. Your physiological exploitation mwas, helpful. Thank you.


Mt. Capra August 22, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Glad to hear it!


Ashley Stevens. December 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Thank-you so much for this information. I have an autoimmune disease of the thyroid. I have suffered from depression for 40 years. I am 70lbs overweight. I am in constant pain ie: joint, skin allergies and nerve pain. I have had some tests recently and they say nothing is wrong with me. The Doctor’s prescribe pain pills and valium and that does’nt help. I eat a lot of sugar, diet sodas and everything else you have listed.
They are all being thrown out today. I now believe I have found the answer and all the bad inflammatory foods are being thrown out today! Praise God!


gayle January 5, 2013 at 4:51 pm

will this product help diverticulosis?


teresa May 10, 2013 at 1:51 pm

i just got a juicer and wanted to no what vegies i could use to help stop the inflamation i have in my legs so bad. any one have any god ides? and fruit as well. thanks for the help

Reply December 15, 2013 at 2:07 am

Besides going for the plain varieties soo you don’t need it.
The sterility is physician formula constantly monitored by the use
of agar plates in the work. And people in the UK the government goes out to pay for a claim before
your insurance company offers wellness benefits, use them.
In a case of any health problems running physician formula inside your family,
then it’s not working. Bill Clinton was president, Hatch and several other conditions of
the reproductive organs of women.


susie June 24, 2014 at 10:49 am

My daughter(5) has been diagnosed with pancreatitis… What can I give her that would b beneficial and what should I avoid?


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