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40 Foods That Cause Inflammation

White Bread

The white flour in bread contributes to the production of advanced glycation end products, which is just a fancy way of saying it causes inflammation. If you’re gluten sensitive or have celiac’s disease, white bread will cause you extra pain. 

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Milk

Many people have trouble digesting milk, which is because humans aren’t meant to drink milk—especially cow’s milk. Along with all the added ingredients and preservatives, dairy is a quick way to feel like trash. Cutting out dairy can greatly reduce the number of inflammatory flare-ups you have. 

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Cheese

Cheese is a processed food that contains saturated fat—a big cause of inflammation. High-fat cheeses are especially bad for you, so try and opt for a low-fat option to reduce your risk of pain. 

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Ice Cream

Ice cream is a yummy snack that is best to avoid. Other than being a dairy product, ice cream also has large amounts of sugar, corn syrup, and sometimes trans fats and gluten depending on the flavor. This is a painful flare-up waiting to happen, so avoid this food if you are prone to inflammation.

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French Fries

French fries are a starch-heavy food that is also full of trans fats, salt, and oil. This food will cause your inflammation to flare up and is also very bad for your cholesterol levels. 

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Chicken Tenders

Chicken tenders are usually highly processed—especially if you get them at a fast food restaurant. The breading also contains flour, gluten, salt, and sometimes sugar. I’m afraid you’ll have to say goodbye to this tasty snack if you want to avoid inflammation.

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White Pasta

Just like with white bread, white pasta contains the glycation-causing flour that leads to inflammation. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid starches if you’re worried about inflammation.

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Soda

Sodas contain massive amounts of sugar and other added ingredients that cause inflammation, but diet sodas are especially bad. They contain aspartame, which is an artificial sweetener used in many drinks and is extremely hard for our bodies to process. 

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Fruit Juice

Did it surprise you to see fruit juice on this list? Many fruit juices are hiding loads of sugar and other added ingredients. Drink fresh-pressed juices at home instead to avoid inflammation. 

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Deli Meat

You might be surprised to learn that your lunchmeat often has MSG in it. Our bodies have a hard time processing additives like MSG, and deli meats are sneaky sources of this flavor-enhancer.

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Waffles

Who would have thought waffles could cause you pain? This delicious breakfast food is full of wheat, gluten, and is sometimes also packed with sugar. That’s just a recipe for disaster. 

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Cookies

You already know cookies aren’t good for you, but did you know they can cause you pain as well? With ingredients like flour, gluten, and sugar, cookies are a good way to feel terrible because of the inflammation they can create. 

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Candy

Candy is chock-full of sugar, and sugar is one of the leading ingredients that cause inflammation. The pro-inflammation cytokines are to blame for the icky feeling sugar can give you. It’s best if you just avoid candy altogether.

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Alcohol

Having one or two drinks per day isn’t bad for you—it even has some health benefits! However, when you start to drink excessively the painful process of inflammation starts. Drinking heavily and often can lead to “leaky gut syndrome,” which is when your colon starts leaking fluid into your body and causes organ damage. 

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Doughnuts

It’s no surprise doughnuts are on this list. After all, they are mostly sugar and flour. It gets worse when extra ingredients like cereal or candy are thrown on top, and your tasty treat quickly turns sour when it causes you inflammation and pain.

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Coffee Drinks

Caffeine triggers your stress hormones, which leads to increased insulin production. The extra insulin causes inflammation and makes you feel terrible. If you get milk, sugar, or other ingredients added you could be making the situation even worse. 

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Crackers

As an extremely starchy, processed food with ingredients like flour and gluten, crackers hit too many marks for ingredients that cause flare-ups. You definitely want to avoid crackers if you’re prone to inflammation.

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Potato Chips

This greasy, salty, deliciously crunchy snack might be the culprit contributing to your inflammation. Potato chips contain large amounts of salt, preservatives, and sometimes sugar—all of which are big contributing factors in swelling and pain associated with inflammation.

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Mayonnaise

Condiments are sneaky causes of inflammation because of all the added ingredients you don’t think about. Mayonnaise contains oil, salt, and sugar, which are some of the main causes of inflammation. 

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Barbecue Sauce

When it comes to causing inflammation, barbecue sauce is worse than many other condiments because of all the added sugar. It might be best to cut down on how much barbecue sauce you use or make your own at home to control the sugar.

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Onion Rings

Onions might be a vegetable but when you batter and deep fry them they lose most of their nutritional value. In addition to increasing your risk for heart disease, this fried food is also known for causing inflammation. You can thank the flour, salt, and grease from the batter for that. 

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Pizza

Not even pizza is safe! This classic meal contains refined carbs, which are terrible about causing inflammation. Pizza also has cheese, trans fats, sugar, and flour—all of which are pain-inducing ingredients. 

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Bacon

It breaks my heart to say this, but bacon is bad about causing inflammation. It’s high in sodium, trans fats, and usually pretty greasy. It’s best to limit yourself when it comes to bacon—the ingredients can also contribute to heart disease!

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Pretzels

Salty, crunchy, sometimes soft and warm, pretzels are a great snack for a lot of reasons. They’re a bad snack for one reason: they could be causing your inflammation. Pretzels have bad ingredients like gluten, flour, and sodium that can be giving you pain.

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Burgers

Bread, cheese, processed meat, condiments full of salt and sugar—burgers are just pain waiting to happen! This delicious food might be satisfying but it will leave you clutching your stomach when the inflammation starts.

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Bagels

Most bagels contain both flour and gluten, which are leading causes of inflammation. You might want to skip your morning bagel and smear if you’re worried about the painful reaction it creates.

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Yogurt

Small amounts of yogurt are good for you—it is a probiotic after all— but large amounts can give you terrible inflammation. This dairy product is often processed, has preservatives, sugar, and other pain-inducing ingredients. 

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Butter

Butter isn’t exactly healthy for you, but did you know it could also be causing your inflammation? Dairy is a big culprit here, but even margarine can cause you pain because it often contains artificial trans fats. 

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Sausage

Sausage is often heavily processed and contains a lot of preservatives. With other ingredients like salt, oil, and trans fats, your sausage might be causing you more pain than it’s worth. Avoid inflammation and just skip the sausage.

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Artificial Sweetener

Our bodies have a hard time processing some artificial ingredients like sweeteners and MSG. Artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, are particularly bad for causing inflammation—especially when you consider that it’s often used to sweeten “healthy” or diet drinks. 

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Breakfast Cereal

Cereal and milk is a quick and easy meal that you can eat fast in the mornings. Unfortunately, this convenient food is usually full of sugar, preservatives, gluten, and are heavily processed—all of which cause inflammation.

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Bologna

Bologna isn’t well-known for having high-quality ingredients, but did you know it could also be causing your inflammation? Bologna contains trans fats, which is also one of the biggest factors in heart disease. 

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Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is a fantastic road trip snack, but it also makes you feel terrible. Jerky is often treated with salt and, if it’s not homemade, can contain a lot of artificial ingredients that contribute to inflammation. 

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Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are well-loved for being a staple at barbecues but are well-known for their questionable ingredients. Artificial trans fats are put in hot dogs to lengthen the shelf life, but those additives cause inflammation. 

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Muffins

Muffins are just the healthy version of cupcakes, right? Wrong! While they aren’t as sugary, muffins will still cause inflammation because of the flour and gluten that most of them contain.

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Canned Soup

Store bought and canned soup often contain MSG, an additive that our bodies have a hard time processing. MSG causes inflammation, but you don’t have to give up your soup. Just make your own at home and use better, tastier ingredients than you’d get in the canned version anyway. 

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Biscuits

Biscuits are a comforting breakfast food for early mornings, and they’re a great compliment to many meals. Unfortunately, biscuits might be causing you pain because of the wheat and gluten included in the ingredients.

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Microwave Popcorn

Popcorn can be very healthy—if it’s prepared correctly! Air popped popcorn is a great snack, but microwave popcorn has massive amounts of salt, oil, and fake butter. Just make it on your stovetop to avoid the unhealthy, inflammation-causing ingredients.

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Non-Dairy Coffee Creamer

Non-dairy coffee creamers might seem like a better option than milk for your morning coffee but they really aren’t. These creamers are often packed with trans fats, sugar, and carbs—all of which are big factors that can cause you inflammation. 

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Canned Frosting

It might be tempting to eat frosting directly out of the can with a spoon, but you really shouldn’t. Other than being a highly processed food, canned frosting has massive amounts of sugar that can cause flare-ups and bring about inflammation.

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