Do processed foods really cause inflammation

These 5 foods are inflammatory

Table of Contents

  1. Artificial trans fats
  2. sugar
  3. White flour
  4. High alcohol consumption
  5. Excessive meat consumption
  6. Knowledge to take away

Artificial trans fats

Sweets, sugary baked goods, fried foods and ready-made products are not just real calorie bombs: they also contain a lot artificial trans fats. These belong to the group of unsaturated fatty acids and are naturally found in the digestive tract of ruminants, which is why they are also found in milk.

They can arise from frying or deep-frying as well as from artificial production. This happens when vegetable oils are hardened in industry (hydrogenation), for example to make margarine.

Many finished products also contain trans fats in order to make them more durable. The ingredients “hardened” or “partially hardened fats” must be noted on the packaging of the corresponding products.

Artificial trans fats have no positive effects on the human organism. On the contrary: They have a negative effect on the cholesterol level, among other things, as they increase the "bad" LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) in the blood and lower the "good" HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein).

Studies have also shown that they increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and obesity (1).

Artificial trans fats do not have any positive effects on the body, but actually increase the "bad" LDL cholesterol in the blood, the risk of cardiovascular diseases and obesity.


To the inflammatory foods also counts table sugar, technically also called sucrose. The sweet substance, which is made up of grape sugar (glucose) and fruit sugar (fructose), contains neither vitamins nor minerals - but plenty of calories: namely 406 calories per 100 grams of sugar.

In its current guidelines, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a maximum sugar consumption of five percent of total energy intake. This is the equivalent of 25 grams of sugar or six teaspoons a day (2).

If this amount is permanently exceeded, this can lead to increased inflammation in the body and favor the development of many diet-related diseases.

These include rheumatism, obesity, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver, cancer and the metabolic syndrome, which brings with it a whole host of diseases such as migraines, high blood pressure and obesity (3).

According to a series of studies with mice, table sugar is also suspected of counteracting the health-promoting effects of omega-3 fatty acids and thus rendering them ineffective (4).

Excessive sugar consumption can promote the development of diet-related diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and rheumatism.

White flour

Carbohydrates divide society: while some rely entirely on them, others completely eliminate them from their menu and eat low-carb. Not all carbohydrates are bad for the organism per se.

Those made from whole grain products or potatoes are complex and come with minerals and filling fiber. Therefore, they are metabolized more slowly than white flour, which keeps the blood sugar level constant and prevents food cravings.

Commercially available white flour and products made from it contain hardly any complex carbohydrates and fiber, so that the positive effects just described are no longer available.

If predominantly white flour products are consumed, the number of inflammatory intestinal bacteria increases. Among other things, this can increase the risk of obesity and inflammatory bowel disease (5).

White flour and products made from it cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate, lead to food cravings and increase the risk of obesity and intestinal diseases.

High alcohol consumption

Alcohol is a stimulant that does not have a positive effect on health.

On the contrary: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to serious physical and psychological problems, which is why it is one of the inflammatory foods.

One study shows that the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood increases significantly when people drink a lot of alcohol over a long period of time. The CRP level is an indicator of infection, inflammation, and tissue damage in the body (6).

In addition to an increased value of the inflammation parameter, alcohol harbors other health risks:

  • Alcohol addiction: Drinking alcohol regularly can become addictive and out of control (7)
  • Cirrhosis of the liver: If the daily amount of alcohol exceeds 30 grams, the risk of liver cirrhosis increases dramatically and, in severe cases, can lead to death (8)
  • Increased risk of depression: People with an increased alcohol consumption are at a higher risk of suffering from depression than abstainers (9)
  • Weight gain: One gram of pure alcohol provides seven kilocalories - an amount that should not be underestimated if consumed frequently and which is also increased when mixed with soft drinks (10)
  • Increased risk of illness and death: Frequent alcohol consumption can promote the development of diabetes mellitus and heart disease (11)

According to the expert adviceWomen no more than ten to twelve grams a day (e.g. 0.15 liters of wine) andMen do not exceed 20 to 24 grams of pure alcohol (e.g. 0.3 liters of wine).

You should also completely refrain from alcohol on at least two to three days a week. There are around 74,000 alcohol-related deaths each year - around 200 deaths a day from excessive alcohol consumption.

Info on alcohol consumption ►

Excessive alcohol consumption has an inflammatory effect in the body and can lead to serious physical and psychological problems.

Excessive meat consumption

Sausages, bacon and smoked meat sometimes just have to be easy to satisfy your appetite.

But the increased consumption of heavily processed meat and sausage products is not a good choice in the long run when it comes to a healthy diet, because these products are among the inflammation-promoting foods.

According to studies, processed sausage and meat products are suspected of increasing the risk of stomach and intestinal cancer as well as type 2 diabetes and heart disease (12).

One reason for this could be the large number of Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs) that are found primarily in processed and partially heated meat and sausage products. They are essentially made up of glucose, galactose and fructose, react in an uncontrolled manner with the body's own structures and ensure increased cell aging.

Elevated AGE values ​​can promote the development of arteriosclerosis and type 2 diabetes, for example (13).

For all those who want to avoid meat and other animal foods on their menu as much as possible, there are plenty of plant-based alternatives, as nutritionist Ben Schamma explains:

"Flavor alternatives include soy milk or soy yoghurt: They taste exactly like normal yoghurt and are no problem in muesli. These are even vegan alternatives. Cheese and quark are also good sources of protein, quark in particular is my favorite. Wheat proteins are also recommended (and also vegan). The ingredients can also be absorbed in other ways, for example through dietary supplements. "

Heavily processed meat and sausage products contain the inflammation-promoting Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs), which among other things promote the development of colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Knowledge to take away

Inflammation in the body can have a variety of causes and can be triggered in different ways. So there is inflammatory foodswhich, if consumed in excess, can have a negative effect on the organism.

These include artificial trans fats, sugar, white flour, alcohol and heavily processed meat and sausage products.

None of these products are part of a person's staple food, as their negative ingredients such as saturated fatty acids and simple sugars predominate. Therefore, they should only be enjoyed in moderation and avoided as far as possible on the menu.