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7 Foods That Cause Inflammation – Inflammatory Foods

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7 Foods That Cause Inflammation – Inflammatory Foods

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Of the 10 leading causes of death, eight of them have been linked to the same underlying cause: inflammation, a chronically on-high-alert immune system response. What’s more, certain types of foods can trigger it more than others.

“Inflammation is not a state that can be induced by one meal or snack,” says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “But over time, these foods comprise a dietary pattern that can lead to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, which impact various organ systems by impeding blood flow overall.”

Some especially bad offenders include the overly processed, fried, or sugary treats you’re already minimizing in your diet, and for good reason. Inflammation correlates with a number of different health conditions. “Long-term, low-grade inflammation can persist in all of our cells and tissues, playing a key role in everything from acne to arthritis,” says Dr. Corey W. Kirshner in The Whole Body Cure, an anti-inflammatory eating plan created by our partners at Prevention.

Help prevent inflammation by cutting down on these top foods that trigger it.

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Processed Meat

This includes hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage and other meats that have undergone salting, curing, or smoking. “These meats are a five-alarm fire when it comes to inflammation,” says Kirshner, in his book The Whole Body Cure. In addition to spiking inflammation, these foods have also been linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer.

Red Meat

Uncured red meat — such as steak or burgers — is less harmful to your health than processed meat, especially if you purchase the certain varieties, says Kirshner. He recommends choosing grass-fed, organic varieties, which contain fewer pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals.

Sweetened Foods

Sugary cereals and other treats can raise blood glucose levels, which can lead to a spike in inflammation. “The effect is more pronounced in people who have any form of glucose intolerance,” says Kirshner. Choose whole foods that are free from added sugar, such as whole apples instead of flavored applesauce.


In addition to raising inflammation, frequent consumption of alcohol can disrupt gut bacteria, change brain structure and function, raise blood pressure, and increase risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, writes Kirshner in The Whole Body Cure. Hold yourself to no more than two drinks a day for men or one daily drink for women. One serving equals a 5-ounce glass of wine, 2-ounce glass of beer, or 1.5-ounce shot of 80 proof spirits.

White Flour

Refined carbohydrates — including the white flour that forms the base of white bread and white pasta — have been stripped of their nutrients and fiber. Foods made with white flour are usually also high in sugar. Instead, look for high-fiber, 100% whole-grain options.

Battered, Deep-Fried Foods

These breaded foods basically get covered in a layer of refined carbs, London says, and they’re also high in saturated fat and excess calories. “You’d be better off sautéing, grilling, steaming, poaching, roasting, or pan-frying,” she advises.


Sugar-sweetened beverages offer a double whammy: sugar coupled with sodium benzoate, a preservative that may impair motor function and increase anxiety. Diet soft drinks are no better, as artificial sweeteners such as saccharine and sucralose may raise risk for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, says Kirshner.

Your Inflammation Cheat Sheet

The Whole Body Cure


The bottom line: Check labels and avoid products that contain hydrogenated oils, added sugar, and refined carbs. Instead, consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, olive oil, fatty fish, and nuts. You’ll find a complete plan for anti-inflammatory eating in The Whole Body Cure

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