Chronic inflammation can happen with certain diseases such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, psoriasis, and obesity.
Research indicates that people with such diseases may have higher levels of inflammatory markers in their bodies. Although many factors are involved in inflammation, certain foods may either increase or decrease the symptoms.
This article looks at foods that may worsen symptoms. It also discusses inflammation and its effect on health. Finally, it looks at anti-inflammatory foods, including vegetables and fruit, and anti-inflammatory diets such as the DASH and Mediterranean diets.
Many foods may worsen the symptoms of inflammation. Such foods include sugar, trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and red or processed meats.
A diet high in sugar may affect chronic inflammation by increasing inflammatory markers in the blood, according to a
In addition, excessive sugar consumption may increase inflammatory markers in children and lead to chronic inflammation, according to
Another 2018 article suggests that fructose might cause cell inflammation. Excess fructose may also increase fat around the abdominal organs and increase the amount of fat in the liver.
Trans fats may increase inflammatory markers and the risk of chronic inflammation, which can lead to diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Trans fats may also raise the levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) while reducing high-density lipoproteins (HDL), a combination that
Although beef and dairy products contain small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats, most trans fats occur when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil. Trans fats may appear on labels as hydrogenated oil and can be in processed foods, baked goods, fried foods, and margarine.
Omega 6 fatty acids
The body needs a certain amount of omega 6 fatty acids for
Mayonnaise and salad dressings often have omega 6 fatty acids. Some oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, and peanut oil can also contain the substance.
Refined carbohydrates have a
Refined carbohydrates include white flour products such as:
- white bread and rolls
- some crackers
- white rice
- some cereals
Red and processed meat
Red and processed meats are
Acute inflammation is a quick response from the body to injury or infection, which increases blood flow to the affected area. White blood cells help rebuild damaged tissue, and acute inflammation generally stops when the wound heals.
Chronic inflammation is a long-term condition that can develop gradually over
- prolonged infection
- exposure to toxic chemicals
- autoimmune disorders
- autoinflammatory disorders
- repeated cases of acute inflammation
- oxidative stress in the body
- older age
- low levels of testosterone and estrogen
- physical and emotional stress
- sleep disorders
Processed foods, saturated fats, trans-fats, and refined sugar can increase the risk of pro-inflammatory molecules. This may especially be the case if a person is overweight or has diabetes.
According to the National Cancer Institute, inflammation can create DNA damage that may lead to cancer. Chronic inflammation is also linked with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which may increase the risk of colon cancer.
Inflammation is commonly present in people with heart disease and stroke and may have a link to plaques forming in the arteries.
Other inflammatory conditions include:
- chronic kidney disease
- non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- autoimmune conditions, such as lupus
- neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease
- arthritis and joint conditions
- allergies and asthma
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Inflammation is generally part of the body’s healing process, and can also help fight illness. However, if a person has recurrent or persistent low-level inflammation, some foods and diets may help a person reduce the symptoms.
While foods high in sugar or processed foods may worsen inflammation, a healthy eating regime based on fresh foods, such as vegetables and fruits, may help reduce symptoms.
Foods which may have anti-inflammatory effects include:
- Fruits and vegetables: Many fruits and vegetables, such as
berries, apples, and cruciferous vegetables, are high in antioxidants and polyphenols which may have anti-inflammatory effects.
Learn more about antioxidants here.
- Fiber: Increasing dietary fiber may help lower certain inflammatory cytokines, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Learn more about healthy high-fiber foods here.
- Oily fish: Certain
oily fishescontain omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce the body’s levels of inflammatory proteins.
Learn more about fish oils and omega-3 fatty acids here.
- Nuts: Some
nutsmay help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Learn more about healthy types of nuts here.
- Turmeric: The curcumin in
turmericmay help improve inflammatory health conditions.
Learn more about turmeric here.
In addition to a healthy eating regime, some people may find that specific diets have a beneficial effect on inflammation.
The diet may also help lessen the symptoms, and
The Mediterranean diet includes:
- high intake of plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses, and olive oil
- moderate intake of fish, seafood, yogurt, cheese, and milk
- low intake of red and processed meat
- low intake of foods high in sugar
Another diet that may help to lower the symptoms of inflammation is called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Research into the diet to manage blood pressure was funded by the
A DASH diet limits the intake of saturated fats and trans fats, sugary drinks and sweets, and salt. It focuses on the consumption of the following:
- vegetables and fruits
- whole grains
- fat-free or low-fat dairy products
- beans and nuts
- vegetable oils
Inflammation is part of the body’s healing process but some medical conditions have a detrimental effect on the immune system, causing recurrent or persistent low-level inflammation.
Some foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, oily fish, nuts, pulses, and olive oil may help alleviate the symptoms of inflammation. In addition, some anti-inflammatory diets may also reduce or prevent inflammation.