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Chronic inflammation is a common problem among Americans. Although factors such as genetics, pre-existing conditions, and lack of movement can contribute to your risk, one of the main culprits is the food we eat on a regular basis.

“Inflammation is a fundamental part of the body’s natural healing process, but chronic inflammation is something else entirely. It’s when these natural immune system responses persist over time, and as research has shown , it can lead to other health issues such as joint pain, heart disease, brain fog, and even cancer,” says a Registered Dietitian. Ronald SmithDR.

To learn more about how to reduce chronic inflammation in your body, we spoke to a few dietitians about the eating habits that make your inflammation worse, so you can eliminate them. Keep reading to find out what changes you can make to your daily diet, and for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out The 5 Best Spices for Inflammation.

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Eating too much trans and saturated fat can lead to unwanted inflammation, especially if eaten regularly over time.

“Foods high in saturated fat can increase inflammation, and some of the worst offenders are fried foods and processed meats, like bacon, sausages, and hot dogs,” Smith says.

Opting for healthier fats containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation. This includes using oils like olive or flaxseed oil and eating foods like salmon, nuts, and chia seeds.

White bread
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To reduce inflammation, you’ll want to consider limiting your amount of refined carbs. “These include white bread, crackers, pasta, and many baked goods,” Smith says.

Because refined carbohydrates are high in sugar and low in nutrients, they can cause inflammation and blood sugar spikes. And according to the Cleveland Clinicthese blood sugar spikes can lead to more inflammation over time.

A report from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating fiber-rich whole grains can help reduce inflammation, so choosing something like whole-grain bread instead of white bread can help.

Woman searching for chip and holding soda in processed junk food board on table with popcorn
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If you’re worried about inflammation, avoiding pre-packaged foods that are highly processed is a good place to start.

“Many of these foods contain added sugars, which are themselves inflammatory. And because they’re highly processed, they lack many natural antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that reduce inflammation in the body,” says one dietitian. Dana Ellis HunnesPhD, MPH, RD.

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Research suggested that consuming too much added sugar in your diet may lead to greater inflammatory responses.

You will find added sugar in a number of foods, many of which you may not realize contain sugar, such as condiments like ketchup, granola bars, peanut butter, salad dressing, some types of dried fruit, muffins, fruit on -the-bottom yogurt, and cereal.

Sugary foods are a major source of inflammation and, according to Smith, sugary drinks are even riskier.

“Sodas and other sugary drinks provide calories with little nutritional benefit, and over time too many empty calories from these drinks can lead to weight gain, which is a major risk factor for chronic inflammation.”

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