Is Food Causing Inflammation? Watch Out for These Foods

Do you know which foods cause inflammation in the body? From ultra-processed foods to beverages, steer clear of or limit these six products.

What causes stomach inflammation in seniors? While pointing to one food or group of foods would be simple, it is actually a pattern of eating that can cause inflammation in the body. However, there are a few items to be aware of when it comes to foods causing inflammation. 

Keep reading to find out about food that causes inflammation in seniors, including a list of six foods to stay away from. 

Inflammation in Seniors

Many seniors expect discomforts as they age. Ailments like chronic pain, swelling, or just general discomfort are thought to be part of the aging process. While these symptoms of inflammation are common, it does not mean they are normal. 

In fact, experts suggest that quenching chronic inflammation may be a key part of aging gracefully. Anti-inflammatory foods contribute powerful, disease-fighting components to the diet and can play a big part in prevention and treatment. 

Gastrointestinal changes with age include effects on the following aspect of digestion: 

  • Motility
  • Enzyme secretion
  • Hormone production
  • Absorption

Just disturbing one aspect from the list above, for example hormones, could wreak havoc on the body. It is no wonder that a continued poor diet contributes to disease when you look at it from a gastrointestinal lens. 

Can Certain Foods Cause Inflammation In The Body?

Luckily, dietitians and health professionals can help you to better understand what foods are inflammatory to you. In general, foods that help reduce inflammation are nutrient-rich like fruits and vegetables, and supply vital vitamins and minerals. 

On the contrary, eating an excessive amount of food that contains little to no nutrients can add to your body’s toxin load. In other words, you are giving your body the wrong kind of fuel, and it will not be able to thrive. 

Other causes of inflammation can be a bit more tricky. For example, peanuts can be a healthy food for one elderly adult and be a source of sensitivity for another. Adult-onset allergy development may account for almost half of adults who report allergies. 

While at-home sensitivity tests may seem to solve this problem, proceed with caution. There is little evidence to back up the quality of these tests. The best course of action is to meet with a geriatric-focused healthcare team and consult with a dietitian to see if you have food allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients. 

Foods That Cause Inflammation In Seniors

As mentioned above, there are some foods known to cause inflammation in nearly everyone if commonly over-consumed. Some of these foods are surprisingly viewed as staples in some places (yikes!). However, it’s never too late to start eating healthier! 

The following list contains six pro-inflammatory foods to keep your eye on. 

Added Sugar

You probably expected this to be at the top of the list. Refined sugar is a big culprit for chronic inflammation, and can be found in everything from fruit juice to dessert. Be especially aware of what may lurk in your sugar-sweetened beverages.  

Even aspartame is non-nutritive, meaning it does not add any additional value to the day. Non-nutritive sweeteners may impact those with autoimmune disease especially. 

Unhealthy Fats

Also called saturated or trans fats, these less healthy sources of fat are linked to the ailments often associated with age like heart disease and arthritis. The risks are also accelerated when the diet contains too many omega-6 fatty acids. 

It may be best not to make meat products, pasta dishes, or margarine daily staples of your diet. Instead, eat them sparingly or enjoy them once a week. 


Another source of inflammation is alcohol, which may come as no surprise to you. Excessive alcohol consumption, which means consuming 7+ drinks a week for seniors, can burden the liver. Since the liver interacts with other organs, this can cause body-wide inflammation. 

The solution? Eliminate alcohol altogether or limit it to one drink a day. 

Refined Carbohydrates & Grains

Refined carbohydrates are stripped of much nutrient value. They come in the form of many popular white flour products, like breads, crackers, cereals, and sugary desserts. 

Instead of eating refined carbs (which may be linked to obesity and other chronic conditions), opt for higher quality products that include whole grains or whole wheat. These foods are often lower on the glycemic index and may be able to help with inflammation. 

Processed & Red Meat

Similar, in a way, to refined grains, processed meats go through a process of salting, curing, or fermentation that can also strip them of nutritional value. While some of these practices are intended to preserve the meat, they also contribute to increased levels of saturated fat and sodium in the typical American diet. 

It is recommended to eat red meat sparingly (experts recommend as little as once a week), and to limit processed meats like bacon, deli meats, or hot dogs to special occasions. 

Fried Foods

Fried, battered, or deep-fried dishes may actually take away years from your life when eaten regularly. When food is fried, the oils are heated to high temperatures. As a result, dangerous compounds can be formed that can decrease the number of nutrients you are actually getting from your food. 

To make matters worse, many establishments reuse oil, which increases the amount of potentially toxic compounds. 

The Final Word On Pro-Inflammatory Foods

At first, it can feel tricky to reduce the amount of inflammatory foods in your diet. However, the long-term benefits greatly outweigh any convenience. Start by limiting one source of inflammation in your life, and you will likely find that quality of life and health flourishes. 


5 Foods That Can Inflammation. Cleveland Clinic. Published June 15, 2020.

8 Food Ingredients That Can Cause Inflammation. Arthritis Foundation.

Dumic I, Nordin T, Jecmenica M, Stojkovic Lalosevic M, Milosavljevic T, Milovanovic T. Gastrointestinal Tract Disorders in Older Age. Can J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019;2019:6757524. Published 2019 Jan 17. doi:10.1155/2019/6757524. 

Pierce S. Adult-onset food allergies: More common than you think. Texas Medical Center. Published February 2020.,developed%20the%20allergy%20in%20adulthood

Samuels C. Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Boost Senior Health. A Place for Mom. Published February 2022.