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5 Foods That Cause Inflammation

Eating less of the foods that cause inflammation and making healthier food choices can help you feel a lot better.

Your diet is one of the primary ways you can influence your health. Avoiding foods that cause inflammation and choosing healthier options can have a profound impact on your health and how well you feel on a daily basis.

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is the body’s process of healing itself from injury and illness. As a short-term response, it works well, but it becomes problematic when it’s ongoing. Long-term or chronic inflammation can lead to a number of health conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Beyond illness and injury, StatPearls reported that chronic inflammation can also be caused by autoimmune disorders, stress, obesity, smoking, exposure to irritants, and diet.

Avoid These Foods That Cause Inflammation

Harvard Health Publishing recommended avoiding or limiting these inflammation-causing foods:

  • Processed meat, such as hot dogs or sausage, and red meat such as hamburgers or steak
  • Refined grains including white rice, cookies, white bread and pastries
  • Added sugar in treats, sodas and other beverages
  • Fried foods such as french fries, onion rings and doughnuts
  • Unhealthy fats like margarine, lard and shortening

Eat These Foods Instead

Rather than focusing on the foods to avoid, sometimes it’s more fun and enticing to focus on the foods you should be eating. According to Healthline, some suggestions for eating well include:

  • Filling your plate with fruit and vegetables
  • Choosing whole grains that are minimally processed, such as brown rice rather than white rice
  • Eating fatty fish, such as salmon
  • Cooking with healthy fats like olive oil and coconut oil
  • Adding flavor and anti-inflammatory properties to your food by seasoning with spices such as turmeric, fenugreek and cinnamon
  • Sprinkling nuts or flaxseed over foods such as yogurt or oatmeal for an anti-inflammatory boost
  • Finishing your meal with a cup of green tea and a square of dark chocolate, which both have anti-inflammatory qualities

You can create some mouthwatering meals from the healthy food options listed above. Changing your eating habits gets easier over time, and your cravings will adapt as well. It does take some adjustment, but feeling better is worth it.

Looking to develop a healthy eating strategy? Meet with a registered dietician, take a nutrition class, or explore the other nutrition resources UVA Health System offers.

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Judy Schwartz Haley
Judy Schwartz Haley