What causes inflammation?

– Sandra


Inflammation is a situation where localized tissues of the body are swollen after the immune system kicks into gear. Most conditions ending in “itis” reflect an inflammatory condition such as gastritis and tendonitis. For acute inflammation, the instigators are usually an injury or infection and the inflammatory response is a defensive mechanism that we need to begin healing. For chronic inflammation, the culprits might be autoimmune disease, arthritis, or persistent foreign pathogens, and the inflammatory response occurs over a number of months or years instead of ending when it should.

Nutritionally, some foods may play a role in the development of chronic inflammation, while others help to prevent or resolve it. According to the Arthritis Foundation, sugar, saturated fat, trans fat, omega-6 fatty acids, refined carbohydrates, monosodium glutamate (MSG), gluten and casein are all notable food ingredients that can cause inflammation1. The publication Medical News Today recently advised that fried foods, white bread, pastry, soda and sugary drinks, red meat, margarine, and lard are foods that aggravate inflammation2.

Knowing what to avoid is half the battle in preventing chronic inflammation. Including these foods in your diet may help reduce the risk of inflammation: olive oil, tomatoes, nuts, green leafy vegetables, fatty fish (such as salmon and mackerel), and fruit.


– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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