Inflammation can be a vital part of your immune system, helping to fight off foreign invaders and stimulate healing. However, it can also have major negative effects and cause serious harm.
In fact, chronic sustained inflammation in the body can cause everything from diabetes and arthritis to heart disease and cancer.
If you’re suffering from chronic pain, take a look at what you’re eating. Surprisingly, the foods you consume can have a major effect on inflammation in your body.
Starts at 60 chatted with nutritionist and naturopath Nicola Miethke, from Nuzest, to find out what foods cause inflammation and the ones to be avoided.
“If these foods become a regular part of our diet they can cause chronic, sustained inflammation that can be very harmful to the body,” Miethke explained.
Many people will be familiar with relentless sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose and if you’re prone to seasonal allergies, consuming histamine-rich foods could trigger these symptoms more than ever.
Certain foods that naturally contain histamines include avocado, eggplant, cured meats, aged cheese and fermented foods and drinks such as kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, wine and beer.
“Limiting foods which are pro-inflammatory can help support your immune system, especially as it works hard to reduce the effects of pollens or irritants,” Miethke said.
Refined carbohydrates are very low in fibre, vitamins and minerals and are often considered “empty carbs”. The main sources include white bread, white pasta, crackers, savoury biscuits, white flour, bagels and corn chips.
“Diets high in refined carbohydrates contribute to the inflammatory response and reduce our body’s ability to build the foundations of a strong immune system,” Miethke explained.
To reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic conditions, limit trans fats as much as possible, Miethke advised. They can be found in fast foods, frozen pizza, margarine, doughnuts, store-bought cakes and biscuits.
And despite what we’ve heard for years, consuming vegetable oil isn’t that healthy either. Oils such as canola, sunflower and rice bran are loaded with unhealthy fats and may cause severe health problems.
It’s no secret that eating too much sugar can have many negative health effects.
In fact, it can also increase inflammation in your body and may lead to insulin resistance, both of which increase cancer risk. Meanwhile, sugar also suppresses the immune system, making us more vulnerable to infectious diseases.
We all know foods like desserts, soft drinks and confectionary contain high levels of sugar, however many foods that seem healthy like yoghurt or cereal are actually riddled with sugar too.
Trying to go sugar-free? Many people turn to artificial sweeteners in a bid to reduce the amount of sugar they consume, but they aren’t as healthy as you think. In fact, if you have a lot of pain, they may actually be worse for you.
Artificial sweeteners are found in thousands of products such as fat-free yoghurt, flavoured water, breath mints, diet soft drinks and desserts.
If inflammation is a problem for you, try limiting your consumption of foods that trigger it as best you can. In addition to a balanced diet, regular exercise and plenty of shut-eye is essential for a healthy immune system.
This article was originally published on December 27, 2018, and has been updated on September 27, 2023.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.