10 foods than cause inflammation & 10 foods to fight inflammation


Most people tend to think of inflammation in terms of external signs: swelling, bruising, redness, heat, and so on, like when you stub your toe, that immediate pain you feel is the body working in action to help fix whatever just happened. It is a normal and effective response that facilitates healing. However, you may be surprised to learn that some foods can cause inflammation.

Unfortunately, chronic inflammation, can be triggered by certain foods that promote inflammation, as well as stress, lack of exercise, smoking, pollution, and lack of sleep. Inflammation can manifest in conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, coeliac disease, and irritable bowel disease, and it can also play a role in asthma and diabetes.

In addition to lifestyle factors and dietary choices, the health of our gut microbiome plays a crucial role in modulating inflammation. The gut microbiome refers to the diverse community of microorganisms residing in our gastrointestinal tract, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes. Research has increasingly shown that the composition and balance of these microbial communities can influence our immune system function, metabolism, and inflammatory responses.

Imbalances in the gut microbiome, known as dysbiosis, have been linked to various inflammatory conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and autoimmune disorders. Dysbiosis can result from factors such as poor dietary habits, antibiotic use, stress, and environmental toxins.

On occasions, weight gain can also be attributable to inflammation, as the presence of inflammatory foods in the body makes our weight control hormone (leptin) less effective, leading to weight gain. Thus, these two factors often go hand in hand. Alternatively read my article regarding foods to avoid for weight gain.

Entering menopause can also bring with it several challenges where women may grapple with inflammatory conditions. Joint discomfort, heightened sensitivity, and energy fluctuations are common experiences. Look out for specific foods that can aggravate menopause symptoms and foods that may help to ease the symptoms in Our Menopause Cookery Class where recipes are crafted to specifically cater to these needs.

But what is Inflammation and how do we avoid it?

Inflammation occurs naturally in your body as the first line of defence against toxins, infections and injuries. The body naturally becomes inflamed in order to heal ‘wounds’. In the case of swelling and bruises etc. The repair process is quite speedy, however factors such as stress or harmful diet cause the inflammatory to hang around for considerably longer. If the problem isn’t resolved quickly or the body is in an inflammatory state for too long, it can cause lasting damage to your heart, brain and other organs.

For example, when inflammatory cells live in the blood vessels for too long, they increase the build-up of dangerous plaque. The body sees this plaque as foreign and sends more of its first responders. As the plaque continues to build, the arteries can thicken, making a heart attack or stroke much more likely. It can also trigger a number of other increasing common chronic diseases such as obesity, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even depression.

Here are the top ten worst offending foods that can trigger or cause inflammation:

1. Refined Sugar

No surprises that sugar is at the top of the list. Sugar found in fizzy drinks, pastries and cakes, sweets, and snack bars, all increase levels of glucose in our body, which our bodies cannot process quickly enough. This increases levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body, increasing levels of inflammation in the body. Sugar also suppresses the immune system and makes it more susceptible to diseases and infection.

2. Vegetable Oil

Vegetables oils from corn, canola, soybean and safflower and all the products that contain them (even vegan “butter” spreads), are high in omega-6 fats (the bad ones, not the good ones like those found in evening primrose oil), which reduces the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. When the body gets out of balance in these fats, inflammation is a result.

3. Dairy Products

All dairy products are higher in saturated fats, which are naturally inflammation-causing in some people. It is also a common allergen as our bodies have trouble digesting lactose and casein proteins. For many people dairy is seen as a foreign invader in the body, in which the bodily response is an inflammatory “attack”.  I am not suggesting that we should all give up eating dairy products such as yoghurt, cheese, milk etc… just that for some people it can have a harmful effect in the body.. For a comprehensive guide on eating well to live well, check out our ‘Nutritious & Delicious Cookery Class’. Click here to explore more!”

4. Wheat, Rye, and Barley

These wheat-containing grains all contain a common allergen – gluten. The body responds with an inflammatory immune response when confronted by allergens, and so the resulting effects can be body pain, mucus production (runny nose, coughing up mucus), and tiredness. Again, I would err on the side of caution if you are suffering from inflammation or have symptoms of inflammation. You could consider eliminating wheat from you diet for a period of 4 weeks as a starter and see how you feel.

5. Fried Foods

Fried foods are another trigger for inflammation. They contain high levels of inflammatory advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are formed when anything is cooked to high temperatures, smoked, dried, fried, pasteurised or grilled.

6. Refined Flour

Refined flour, in other words, anything that is white and not whole-wheat, has been stripped of slow-digesting fibres and nutrients, which means your body breaks down these items very quickly. This will spike insulin levels, resulting in a pro-inflammatory body response.

7. Red Meat

When we consume red meat, a chemical called Neu5gc is produced. This chemical spurs cancer progression and produces an inflammatory response in the body.

8. Processed Corn

Corn is in many products. You really need to be careful to avoid this one. There are a variety of corn derivatives like high-fructose corn syrup, corn flour, and corn oil. Eating corn in these refined forms spikes blood sugar and as we have seen above, spiked blood sugar leads to an increased insulin response, which creates a major inflammatory response. Join us and discover the joys of balanced and nutritious cooking! ! (To enroll, click here)

9. Artificial Chemicals and Additives

Anything artificially created, like chemicals and additives in foods, are not recognised by the body. They are foreign, and so naturally, the body needs to defend itself from these synthetic compounds, which means an inflammatory immune system response.

10. Trans Fats

Trans fats, aside from causing cancer, also create low-density lipoproteins, which feed inflammation. They are found in hydrogenated oils and many processed foods.

Foods That Fight Inflammation (Not all of them can cause inflammation)

If you discover that some of the 10 food above cause inflammation in your body, the good news is that you can fight this by incorporating the 10 foods below. Remember that inflammation is also caused by stress, lack of sleep, pollution, smoking, and lack of exercise (as mentioned below), so it isn’t just diet you need to focus on. Practice stress-reduction techniques, go to sleep earlier, give up smoking (if you do), and start walking if you’re not active, even 30 minutes a day will make a huge difference.

1. Turmeric

One of the best anti-inflammatory foods out there. It’s active ingredient, curcumin, inhibits the activity of COX-2 and 5-LOX, two enzymes involved in the inflammatory response. Curcumin also blocks inflammatory pathways and prevents inflammatory proteins from triggering pain and swelling. Add a turmeric latte to your daily routine using almond milk, you can buy turmeric latte blend from here>

2. Blueberries

High in antioxidants, which prevent oxidative stress and inflammation. Promote the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines in the body, which leaves us with lower levels of inflammation in the body.

3. Dark Leafy Greens

Kale, collards, spinach, romaine, you name it! All amazing inflammation fighters, rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules.

4. Avocado

Avocados contain polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs) and phytosterols, which provide our bodies with anti-inflammatory benefits.

5. Watermelon

Watermelon is incredibly alkalizing, watermelon helps buffer the acid intake from a high-acid diet (namely, a high-inflammatory diet).

6. Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds contain an ideal ratio of omega’s 3 and 6. Omega-6 fats contain GLA, which works in the body as an anti-inflammatory, decreasing inflammation and helping people suffering from inflammatory-related diseases.

7. Mushrooms

Mushrooms like shiitake mushrooms contain high-molecular-weight polysaccharides (HMWP), which improve immune function and help battle inflammation.

8. Ginger

Similar to turmeric, ginger is an anti-inflammatory healing root that boosts the immune system and breaks down the accumulation of toxins in the body.

9. Beetroot

High in antioxidants, beets help fight to repair cell damage caused by inflammation. They are also high in inflammation-fighting potassium and magnesium.

10. Pineapple

Pineapples contain the inflammation-fighting enzyme called bromelain. It helps regulate the immune response that often creates unwanted inflammation in the body.

In conclusion, understanding the impact of foods that can cause inflammation on our health and making informed choices about our diet and lifestyle is crucial. By identifying and avoiding the top inflammatory foods such as refined sugar, vegetable oil, and processed corn, and incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, blueberries, dark leafy greens, and avocado, we can actively combat inflammation and promote overall well-being. Additionally, addressing lifestyle factors such as stress, sleep, exercise, and environmental pollutants further enhances our ability to manage inflammation effectively. By adopting an anti-inflammatory approach, we empower ourselves to take control of our health and pave the way for a healthier, more vibrant future.


53 comments on “10 foods than cause inflammation & 10 foods to fight inflammation

  1. wow…what an eye opener!! Much needed info, for every one. Wish I could share this on my WhatsApp.

    • Hi Nazneen,
      Thank you so much for your comment! I am so glad you found my post helpful.
      Yes, you can share my posts on social media. On the top right of each post, right next to the title, there is a black and white button with three connected circles. If you click on that button, you will be able to share the post on all of your social media channels.
      We would be honored if you would share our content with your followers. We believe that it is important to spread information and wellness to the world, and we appreciate your help in doing so.
      Thank you again for your support!
      Best regards,

    • Hi, yes what I have come to realise over the past year is the connection between the gut and the rest of the body. The way I understand is if the gut is healthy a small amount of healthy food will be converted to energy within the body, in other words the blood will be rich in energy and hence all organs will function optimally. There will be less by products produced from this process similar to a high efficiency engine that converts most of chemical energy in fuel into horsepower with very little CO2 emissions.

      I can feel it now since the inflammation has subsided and I can do my skiing runs over longer distances and with greater endurance than before with more energy and less food!

  2. Very nice info! I came across this when I was searching for list of foods causing inflammation since I recently got dry eyes due to inflammation. I wasn’t aware whole wheat can also cause inflammation although I do try to avoid it and have it only 1-2 times per week. This explains why I had gastritis 12 years back and acne for past 20 plus years. I think you should also add Aloe Vera in your anti-inflammatory list. Is there a way we can get rid of inflammatory responses by our body completely? Avoiding foods like wheat forever is difficult.

  3. I really appreciated this article. I am working very hard to change my lifestyle and cut out all processed foods and added sugars. It’s not easy and I get super cravings for ice cream, sugary cereals, etc. Only a few weeks of doing this ( and failing some days) I’m already noticing huge results. This article is something I rely on. Thanks so much

    • Hi,
      Thank you for your comments. Fresh corn is good as long as it has not been sprayed with pesticides in the growing process. The pesticides used are very harmful to our gut microbiome.

      Best wishes

  4. Thank you for this article. I have been ill from rheumatoid arthritis for some time now. My sister suffered from fibromyalgia. She ended up bedridden. I believe it is the same malady, just different names. I will apply your information to my lifestyle and share with my children. Hopefully they will be able to avoid what my sister and I have gone through. She recently passed.

  5. After having several abscesses in my gums, my dentist recommended changing my diet, rather than simply undergoing yet another root canal. Just 2 weeks of avoiding sugar, lactose, gluten & alcohol had tremendously positive results. (e.g. weight loss, increased energy, a calming down of my inflamed gums) But inflammation spiked again after barley soup, & then today after red meat. After reading your article, I now understood why & will continue adjusting my diet. I am 74 years old & although these dietary changes are quite a challenge, your article‘s explanations make it all much clearer & gives hope that I can save my teeth & avoid the immune diseases & allergies that my siblings have had.

  6. thank you so so much for sharing this post. This is exactly what I was looking for. it answered all of my questions.

    • You’re very welcome! Wishing you the best on your journey towards better health! And don’t forget, subscribing to our newsletter is a great way to stay updated with more valuable tips and insights.

    • Oats are often regarded as an anti-inflammatory food due to their rich content of antioxidants and unique compounds, such as avenanthramides. These compounds possess anti-inflammatory and anti-itching properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body.
      Additionally, oats are high in soluble fibre, specifically beta-glucans, known for their potential to reduce inflammation and support gut health. They may contribute to a healthier balance in the gut microbiota, which is closely linked to overall inflammation levels in the body.
      Moreover, oats have been associated with lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body, in some studies.
      However, it’s essential to note that individual responses to foods can vary, and while oats can generally be beneficial for many in reducing inflammation, they might not have the same effect for everyone. If you’re considering incorporating oats into your diet for their potential anti-inflammatory properties, it’s best to monitor how your body responds to them.
      As always, maintaining a well-balanced diet with a variety of anti-inflammatory foods, along with a healthy lifestyle, is crucial in managing inflammation.

  7. Dr. Ghandi,
    Thank you so very much for your life’s work, this is life saving information. I have suffered for so long with fibromyalgia and Chronic inflammation and although I have seen many doctors, it was never said that it could be my diet, now I truly understand why I have so inflammation. I am excited to change my lifestyle.
    Thank you sincerely!

    • Thank you for your heartfelt message! I’m truly touched to hear that the information provided has resonated with you. I understand how challenging it can be to manage conditions like fibromyalgia and chronic inflammation. Making changes to your lifestyle, particularly your diet, can indeed have a significant impact on managing inflammation.

      Should you need guidance or have any further questions during this journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Wishing you strength and success as you embark on this new path towards wellness! If you’d like to receive more valuable information and tips on improving your lifestyle and health, consider subscribing to our newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated with our latest articles, insights, and advice. Thank you for your interest—I look forward to having you as part of our community!

    • You’re welcome! I’m glad you found the information helpful. If you’d like to receive more valuable information and tips on improving your lifestyle and health, consider subscribing to our newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated with our latest articles, insights, and advice. Thank you for your interest—I look forward to having you as part of our community!

  8. Thank you so much for the information. It is very clear and makes a lot of sense. I will implement it in my lifestyle.

    • I’m thrilled the information resonated with you! Implementing these changes into your lifestyle can have a positive impact. If you need any further guidance or have questions along the way, feel free to reach out. Wishing you success as you incorporate these changes for a healthier lifestyle!”

  9. Thank you So so so much for this Article, recently having Lower pain that moves round down my abdomen to my buttocks area. it worsened Yesternite when I had diary, wheat bread,and red meat, couldn’t sleep.. this article really helped me to understand somethings.

    • I’m glad the article provided some insight for you! Feel free to explore more related content on our website or consider subscribing to our newsletter for further insights. Wishing you relief and improved health!

    • Thank you for your comment! I’m glad you found the information helpful. I’d love to hear about your experience after trying these tips. Feel free to share your progress or any questions you may have along the way. For more health-related insights, consider subscribing to our newsletter.

  10. I Have been in so much pain for the last 3 years from immflamation… I am blessed to have found this Article. I Know it will change my life for the better, Thank you so much

    • I’m delighted to hear that you found the article useful! Remember to subscribe to our newsletter; it’s a great way to keep up to date with the latest articles and resources. Wishing you all the best on your journey to wellness!

  11. Thank you for sharing this information, as l have been using this same inflation instruction for the last 5 months. l have eliminated all sugar except Coconut sugar as well as all the products you mentioned. l have lost a lot of weight and my pain level has gone down from an 8 to a 2. l have so much energy and am trying to increase my amount of exercise. Thank you for sharing this information and l will share it with all my Family and friends ❤️

    • Thank you for sharing your experience! It’s great to hear how positive changes in your diet have had such a significant impact on your health and well-being. Eliminating sugar and incorporating anti-inflammatory foods can indeed lead to remarkable improvements, as you’ve experienced firsthand. Keep up the great work! If you’d like to receive more tips and insights like these, consider subscribing to our newsletter for regular updates on health and wellness. Here’s to continued health and vitality! ❤️

  12. Dear Dr. Ghandi,
    My daughter is 26 years old and has suffered with acne on her face and arms for many years. She has tried numerous topicals and antibiotics with little improvement. She is in excellent physical shape as she is a yoga instructor and very fit! She does not drink alcohol or any sugary drinks. Do you think this type of diet would be helpful?

    • Hello,

      I think this type of diet would be helpful. Dairy should be avoided for the management of acne, as well as sugar. This eating pattern recommends both are avoided.
      Good luck.

  13. Thank you for all this information. I’m trying to reduce all inflammation causing foods. I suffer with IBS so there’s some contradictions I’m confused about. In the section with vegetable oils and other section with hemp seeds. One says omega-6 fats “the bad ones” and the other says omega-6 GLA decrease inflammation. Is there bad and good omega-6? What’s the difference? How would I know which is good and which is bad?

    • I’m delighted you found the food tips insightful. For more content like this, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter. Stay informed with the latest health tips, recipes, and wellness advice sent directly to your inbox.

  14. I have Crohn’s disease. Many of the foods on either list I can not eat. I can’t eat berrys seeds fruits. Greens. I can’t think of new things to try. I’m going to try green tea. I heard that’s an anti inflammatory drink

  15. Is red meat really inflammatory? I have been told a diet of red meat, cabbage & eggs will fix all my problems.

    • HI Annette,

      I’m sorry to say that meats are more acidic than plants… veggies etc… of which red meat is the worst so eating red meat will cause inflammation. That said it depends on how frequently you eat red meat and whether you already have existing conditions of inflammation that could be exacerbated by eating red meat.

  16. I appreciate this informative blog post on the connection between inflammation, diet, and gut health. It effectively explains the difference between acute and chronic inflammation, highlighting the potential impact of food choices on the body’s inflammatory response.

  17. I have been working these basics in healthier food consumption since 2009. I still have some issues: deficient in D3, B12, and Magnesium. I have osteoarthritis, and have been previously diagnosed with multiple conditions revolving around inflammation, which are mostly under control now. I still have issues controlling my weight – BMI 32+. I began this journey following bypass surgery, with a second surgery 7 years later to replace the double-ended grafts with stents. I have palpitations and a murmor now. I have convinced my primary caregiver to add a celiac panel to my next blood test, as that is the only thing my continuing issues seem to point out. If you have any further advice, especially for those of us on a tight budget, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for the work you do. The information here helps me feel validated for making these choices and improving my health, reducing the number of medications and supplements my body needs.

  18. I was diagnosed with RA in August of 2023. I am trying to educate myself on anti inflammatory eating, and so far, everything I read about points me back to a whole food, plant based, alkaline diet. This article reinforces everything. I began an elimination diet in January, where I have cut out all:
    gluten, dairy, oils/sugar, meat & processed foods.

    I had 14 areas of pain, which, after 3 weeks, was down to 2 areas of pain. The 2 areas of pain were my shoulder (and we since found out it had several tears from an active lifestyle, nothing related to my RA), and my left wrist (which I have Dequervenes Tendonitis, also not caused by RA). I can attest that eating this way takes commitment, but you will feel better. Even if the symptoms don’t totally disappear, there’s no more bloated pain or other GI pain, because you are treating your body with real nourishment. Thank you for sharing your article! Finding balance with our gut health is a real struggle, ans we live in an era where processed food tastes so good and it is readily accessible, so its hard to slow down and eat intentionally. Your body will thank you for doing it, though.

  19. wow, i am eating healthy food and now cutting out all refined sugar, i have some tumeric tea bags and enjoy a cup of this,. im trying to follow a more healthy diet as i am 76 in June,and feel tired a lot,and have a very bad balane problem,

    i do try to eat healthily and now will try this good advice, i am approaching 76 and hope to be able to do more excersise once i get my walker, I have bad balance but my new walker will help me have more confidence walking, thankyou so much for the great advice, how do i sign up for the newsletter please.

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