7 Worst Eating Habits That Cause Inflammation And Make You Age Faster

You’ve probably come across this dietary buzzword, inflammation. And like many people, you might not fully understand what it means or why it’s such a hot topic. So before we dive into the worst eating habits for inflammation and aging, let’s establish what inflammation really is.

Whether you get stung by a bee or burn your hand on the stove, your body has an immune response that fights off toxins, pathogens and infections, causing short-term inflammation in the process. The dark side of inflammation is when it becomes chronic and simmers in the background, with the swelling and heat never going away because your body keeps sending out inflammatory cells to fight, even when there’s no invader.

This type of long-term, low-grade inflammation can damage tissues and joints. “You may even find that your skin ages faster if you’re constantly inflamed, since inflammation can deplete collagen and elastin, which are responsible for keeping your skin looking young and supple,” she says dr Rene Armentaa surgeon at Renew Bariatrics.

Months and years of chronic inflammation can also trigger inflammatory diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, autoimmune diseases and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to research published in naturopathy. These inflammatory diseases and disorders are associated with aging.

Eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties is part of a two-pronged approach to preventing age-related diseases. The other is to give up the following worst eating habits that can trigger inflammation and accelerate aging. Read on to learn more about the eating habits that cause inflammation and age you faster, then be sure to check out 10 simple tricks to eating healthy every day.


You’re not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega 3

Omega 3

You’ve probably heard of omega-3s, especially in conversations about heart health, cognition, and aging. These are polyunsaturated fats commonly found in certain foods, such as seafood and plants. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: DHA, found in fish; EPA, also found in fish; and ALA, found in some plant foods like walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. Outside of the food we eat, you can also take omega-3 supplements. The reason these fatty acids are so often mentioned in relation to our health is because research has found that they have anti-inflammatory properties that may contribute to healthy aging.

According to a report published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to reduce inflammation associated with neurological, neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases such as depression, Alzheimer’s and dementia. A study from 2019 circular research found that omega-3 supplements may be able to reduce inflammation by increasing the amount of anti-inflammatory molecules in the body.

A 2020 study published in atherosclerosis concluded that although both DHA and EPA (the two types of marine omega-3 fatty acids) have anti-inflammatory properties, DHA may have a greater effect. In fact, researchers found that DHA reduced four types of inflammatory proteins in the body and EPA fatty acids reduced one. However, both types still have an effect.

By not getting enough of these polyunsaturated fats on a regular basis, you are missing out on the opportunity to fight inflammation as you age.

RELATED: The 5 best low-cholesterol meats you should be eating


You don’t eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables with chlorpyrifos

Fruits and vegetables with chlorpyrifos

Not getting enough fruits and vegetables is one of the worst eating habits for inflammation. “Fruits like berries and oranges and green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale provide the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants we need to keep our immune systems healthy and strong, which is especially important as we age,” says the Medical Review Board member Amy Goodson, MS, RDa registered dietician and the author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook. “Only one in ten people is eating the recommended amounts, which means 90% of us can do a better job.”


You eat “AGE” foods like french fries.

Woman eats french fries

Woman eats french fries

The high temperatures required to deep fry food can create harmful compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which build up in the body as we age.

“Foods like cooked red meat and refined carbohydrates like white bread contain AGEs,” he says Johna Burdeos, RD, owner of nutritionist Johna. “Eating too much of these foods can lead to cell damage and inflammation, which can accelerate the aging process and increase the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The inflammatory reaction in the skin is reflected in visible signs of weakened skin elasticity. like wrinkles, puffiness and acne.”

RELATED: The 11 worst foods that damage your skin, say dermatologists


You eat processed junk food.

junk food

junk food

Processed meats like cold cuts, bacon, hot dogs, and junk foods like candy bars, cookies, sugary drinks, potato chips, ice cream, and fast food aren’t the healthiest things to eat, and loading up on these can be one of the worst eating habits for inflammation and aging Research suggests that these ultra-processed foods, the hallmark of the so-called Western diet, can upset the delicate balance of healthy and unhealthy microbes in the gut, or microbiome.

“When processed foods alter the bacteria that live in our gut, it triggers an altered immune response that leads to chronic inflammation,” he says Kathryn Piper, RDN, LD, from The Age-Defying Dietitian. “Diabetes, heart disease and dementia have been linked to chronic inflammation.”


You’re not eating enough fiber.

eat high-fiber foods

eat high-fiber foods

The cure for an unhealthy microbiome is to avoid ultra-processed foods and make it a habit to eat more fiber, ideally 25 to 38 grams per day from foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and legumes. suggests Goodson.

“Very few people eat enough fiber, but if you want to age gracefully with positive gut health and healthy cholesterol, fiber is key,” says Goodson. “Set a goal of consuming 4 to 6 grams of fiber with each meal and snack throughout the day.”


You have too many happy hours and drink alcohol frequently.

Group of party people - men and women - drinking beer in a pub or bar

Group of party people – men and women – drinking beer in a pub or bar

Drinking alcohol can increase inflammation in your body, and excessive drinking definitely increases your risk of chronic mild inflammation, among other health risks, says Piper. In fact, a study was published in alcohol research found that chronic alcohol consumption was associated with intestinal inflammation as well as negative changes in the gut microbiome.

“If you drink, limit your consumption to the recommended less than 1 drink per day for women and less than 2 drinks per day for men,” adds Piper.

RELATED: The best supplements to slow aging, say nutritionists


You eat a lot of foods that contain gluten.

Pour milk into oats

Pour milk into oats

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains, meaning it’s found in bread, pizza crust, pasta, baked goods, and cereal. Though many people digest gluten with no problem, people who are sensitive to gluten (a condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity) experience a different type of immune response that causes an inflammatory effect, according to a 2020 study gastroenterology.

“If someone has gut issues, has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, or has had unexplained chronic symptoms that put them on the path to an autoimmune disease or other serious diagnosis, then going gluten-free will likely help,” he says Jenny Levine-Finkea certified integrative nutrition coach and author of Dear gluten, it’s not me, it’s you.

In a 2022 study published in nutritional assessments, researchers found that a gluten-free diet can “improve” autoimmune-related symptoms in 64.7% of people with a non-celiac autoimmune disease. Ask your doctor or nutritionist for guidance on where you stand with gluten to learn what’s good for you as an individual.

A previous version of this story was published on August 21, 2022. It has been updated to include additional copying and proofreading, additional research, and updated contextual links.

Eat this, not that

Eat this, not that

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