Carbohydrates and excessive alcohol can create inflammation. Picture: Pexels / Jill Burrow
Carbohydrates and excessive alcohol can create inflammation. Picture: Pexels / Jill Burrow

Foods that cause inflammation and what to eat instead

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Aug 10, 2021

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Inflammation is a process within the body that can wreak havoc and lead to disease.

Processed foods, refined carbohydrates, excessive alcohol, and red and processed meats may increase inflammation. This may especially be the case if a person is overweight or has diabetes.

"Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects," says Dr Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Refined carbohydrates

Eating refined carbs may drive inflammation. Refined carbs have had most of their fibre removed. Fibre promotes fullness, improves blood sugar control, and feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Researchers suggest that the refined carbs in the modern diet may encourage the growth of inflammatory gut bacteria that can increase your risk of obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.

Trans fats

Food manufacturers create trans fats through the process of hydrogenation.

But researchers have found that there’s no safe level of trans fats to consume. So it’s recommended to aim for less than one gram of trans fat each day.

Examples of trans fats

Shortening is a classic example of trans fat, but you can find them in restaurant foods and baked goods such as cookies, pastries and crackers.

Red and processed meats

Processed meats have been salted, cured, fermented or smoked for flavour or preservation purposes. Research shows both processed and red meats are high in saturated fat, which causes inflammation.

Excessive alcohol

People who drink heavily may develop problems with bacterial toxins moving out of the colon and into the body. This condition — often called “leaky gut” — can drive widespread inflammation that leads to organ damage.

To avoid alcohol-related health problems, intake should be limited to two standard drinks per day for men and one for women.

Anti-inflammatory foods

An anti-inflammatory diet should include these foods:

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
  • Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.

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