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  • Writer's pictureRobin Thomas

Foods That Increase Inflammation

Oh Yes! These foods do look pretty yummy. And every once in a while, they can be a treat. The problem comes when foods like this become an every day choice. For one thing, what we eat affects our mood and how we feel. Foods high in saturated fats and sugar also undermine our immune system, often leading to chronic inflammation and an increase in susceptibility to disease.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to certain diseases such as heart disease and stroke, and may also lead to autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. And now with the ongoing pandemic it's pretty important to keep our immune system strong. It’s time to pay attention to what we are eating day by day.

How Does the Food We Eat Increase Inflammation?

A lot of food not only increases inflammation with pro-inflammatory ingredients, it lacks antioxidants and other nutrients that help to prevent and control inflammation. It's pretty easy trade out unhealthy food with healthier choices without feeling deprived.

5 ways how food we eat increases inflammation, and what we can do to move toward a healthy low-inflammatory diet.

1. Breakfast Break-Up:

Sugar and white flour in regular pancakes increase blood sugar rapidly, and even a small amount generates pro-inflammatory chemicals. Not the best way to start your day!

Switch out high carbohydrate pancakes with syrup for protein rich sweet potato hash protein bowl

Packed packed with tons of veggies and protein!

2. Snack Switch:

Sugary and white flour snacks also cause inflammation and disease by forming advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs occur when a protein reacts with sugar, resulting in damaged, cross-linked proteins. As the body tries to protect you by breaking these AGEs apart, immune cells secrete large amounts of inflammatory chemicals.

Trade out sugary snacks with whole fruits and berries. Add some protein with nuts or sunflower seeds.

3. Balance Acidity:

Acidity is another problem. Most Americans eat an acidic diet caused by too much salt, sugar, white flour, dairy, meat and soda. Many experts consider over-acidity to be one of the major causes of chronic inflammation, with increasing acidity causing increasing amounts of inflammation.

Swap out sodas and sweet tea with water. If you don’t like the taste, you can drink herbal teas or infuse water with herbs and fruit

4. Change Your Oil:

The fats and oils in the American diet are inflammatory because they contain excessive omega-6 fatty acids. Today, we consume 20 to 30 times as much omega-6 as omega-3. Pro-inflammatory oils include corn, safflower, sunflower, soy, canola, and peanut oils.

Switch to olive oil or avocado oil for your dressings and cooking. Avocado oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil so is safer for cooking.

5. Adjust to Sensitivities:

Allergies and food sensitivities also create inflammatory responses. Chronic allergic or food sensitivity reactions create chronic inflammation.

Keep a food journal if you think you have chronic inflammation. Pay attention to how you feel after eating certain foods. Try avoiding common allergens such as dairy and wheat. Food sensitivities also can be very specific to an individual, so a food journal is a great first step toward discovery and avoidance.

Small shifts in food choices—over the course of a week, a day, or even a meal—can make a big difference. I help individuals stop feeling powerless about their health by guiding them through ways to get started with healthy habits without becoming overwhelmed. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.

Eat Well!

Robin Thomas worked for 25 years in Medical Research at UNC. She left UNC to start her own Wellness Business in 2004 and founded Living Well Connections, a community for people whose passion is healthy living, in 2015. Learn more at

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