Inflammation is a natural immune system response. However, chronic inflammation can lead to health issues such as cancer, arthritis, mental health problems and cardiac issues. People at higher risk for chronic inflammation include those who are overweight, stressed, choose to smoke or do not exercise. Some foods can exaggerate the inflammatory response and worsen chronic inflammation.
Trans fat is found in foods such as french fries, sticks of margarine, shortening, cake mixes, frosting and pancakes. A study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in April 2004 investigated the relationship between trans fat intake and systemic inflammation in women. The study tracked inflammation in the women's bodies by monitoring the levels of inflammatory markers in their blood. Researchers found that the women who consumed the most trans fat had the highest levels of inflammatory markers.
Saturated fats are the animal fats found in cheeseburgers, pizza, ice cream and meat. The main sources of saturated fat in the human diet are red meat and full-fat dairy products like whole milk. According to the American Heart Association, saturated fats stimulate inflammation in fat tissue, which can lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. Limiting your intake of saturated fat is recommended for all diets, not just anti-inflammatory diets.
A study published in the "The Journal of Nutrition" in March 2010 examined the relationships between whole grains, refined grains and inflammation. The study found that while the consumption of whole grains was associated with lower levels of inflammation, refined grain intake was associated with higher inflammation levels. Refined grains can be found in white bread and pastas. When grains are refined, many of their beneficial nutrients get destroyed in the process. Registered holistic nutritionist Julie Daniluk, author of "Meals That Heal Inflammation," told The Huffington Post that this processing leaves "fast-digesting carbohydrates beyond empty calories" and that those "irritate our bodies."
A study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2011 investigated the effects of sugar-sweetened beverages on inflammation in normal-weight young men. Because most human research on sugar intake involves very high doses of sugar, the scientists in this study chose to investigate low to moderate consumption, to best mirror the consumption of the general public. The subjects in the study who consumed just 40 grams of sugar each day experienced an increase in inflammation levels. There are 65 grams of sugar in just one 20-ounce bottle of cola.
- The Huffington Post: Inflammatory Foods: 9 of the Worst Picks for Inflammation
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Dietary Intake of Trans Fatty Acids and Systemic Inflammation in Women
- The Huffington Post: 22 Foods With Trans Fat
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Low to Moderate Sugar-sweetened Beverage Consumption Impairs Glucose and Lipid Metabolism and Promotes Inflammation in Healthy Young Men: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Coca-Cola: Nutrition Facts
- The Journal of Nutrition: Whole and Refined Grain Intakes Are Related to Inflammatory Protein Concentrations in Human Plasma
- Harvard School of Public Health: Top Food Sources of Saturated Fat in the U.S.
- Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Saturated Fatty Acids and Inflammation: Who Pays the Toll?