Inflammation is both good and bad, depending on the circumstances. On one hand, it’s the body’s natural way of protection when you are sick or injured. It can act as a natural defense mechanism against infection or illness and stimulate healing. On the other hand, chronic or sustained inflammation is the root cause of several diseases including gout diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Interestingly, it’s mostly the diet we consume that is a great contributing factor to drive chronic inflammation in your body. Here are 8 foods that drive inflammation:

1. Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup

Refined sugar consists of chemicals and acid that are unhealthy for the body. As opposed to sugarcane, the acid extracted from the sugarcane to make sugar is dangerous. It triggers the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Especially, high fructose corn syrup that is typically added to soda and processed food causes inflammation within the endothelial cells that line your blood vessels, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Also, artificial sweeteners like Aspartame that claim to have low or no glucose often evoke an inflammatory response and it’s best to avoid such sweeteners. Instead opt for natural sugars like honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, jaggery.

2. Trans Fat

The unhealthiest fat of all, trans fat that is created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats have been shown to cause inflammation. In addition, it also lowers the good cholesterol or HDL and lines to the arteries. Known to trigger systemic inflammation, trans fat can be found in fast foods and other fried products, processed snack foods, frozen breakfast products, cookies, donuts, crackers, and most stick margarine. Avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient labels.

3. Refined Carbohydrates

Due to our busy pace of life, we have become abundant consumers of refined carbohydrates. From breakfast cereals, cookies, white rice, pizza, pasta our food is dominated by refined carbohydrates. They have most of the fiber removed. Instead, consuming complex carbohydrates, multi-grains, millets, and carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables can help to curb inflammation. They contain more fiber that slows the release of sugar.

4. Omega 6 Fatty Acid

As opposed to its healthier counterpart of Omega 3 Fatty Acid, too much of this fatty acid can trigger inflammation in your body. What the body needs is the right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are found in vegetable oil, corn, sunflower, grapeseed, soy and peanut oils, mayonnaise and salad dressings.

5. MSG – Mono Sodium Glutamate

This is a flavor-enhancing ingredient that is added to processed and restaurant prepared food but is the most nutrient undermining ingredient that has far-reaching effects on the brain as well. This chemical triggers two important pathways of chronic inflammation and affects liver health. It is commonly found in ready-to-eat foods, soup mixes, tinned food, deli meats, soy sauce and more.

6. Gluten and Casein

People who have autoimmune diseases like Celiac’s, arthritis and more can benefit by avoiding consumption of gluten found in wheat, barley and rye and casein found in pasteurized milk and dairy products. They tend to set off an autoimmune response that damages the immune function and leads to health hazards.

7. Alcohol

Overconsumption of Alcohol is a burden to the liver and also leads to a leaky gut thereby causing wide-spread inflammation in the body. It’s best to eliminate it from your diet. In one study, levels of the inflammatory marker CRP increased in people who consumed alcohol. The more alcohol they consumed, the more their CRP levels increased.

8. Processed and Red Meat

Processed Meat and certain red meat cause inflammation because they contain Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs). While the quality of meat, such as grain or grass-fed, may have a small impact on inflammation in limited studies, meats of all types will favor inflammation and aging.

Alternatively, opt for fatty fish to obtain proteins and omega-3 fatty acid that helps to alleviate inflammation.

Beating Inflammation

An ongoing state of inflammation in the body can breed negative effects on your health. So, avoid the above foods that drive inflammation from your diet and include plenty of natural products of vegetables, fruits, leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains as well as omega-3 fatty acids.