By Chef Lauren Cox, Closer to Your Food

Many Americans suffer from chronic pain whether it be from a disease or injury. Most commonly, back and knee injuries and diseases like fibromyalgia, different forms of arthritis and diabetes can keep you constantly dealing with pain. For many people it can become overwhelming. It is very common to be prescribed painkillers, receive nerve blocks or even undergo surgery in the modern American medical system to manage pain. Especially if you are dealing with chronic pain, consider that your diet may be a leading contributor and could actually be exacerbating your symptoms. Ironically, your diet is one of the easiest things to change and is most often overlooked. Here are the most common foods that increase inflammation and cause other responses that promote pain and other negative symptoms:


You may have heard that too many sweets will rot your teeth, but sugars, especially the refined ones, are silent killers that can lead to a domino effect of diminishing health. It is very easy to become addicted to sugar[1] and the modern American diet is packed with it. Try a sugar cleanse to cut these foods out of your diet and eat sugar from only naturally-occurring fructose from fruit in small quantities.

“White” Food

These are essentially simple carbs such as white bread, pastas, rice, etc., and are really just sugar in disguise. Without any fiber, these foods are broken down quickly and processed nearly the same as table sugar in your body.

Trans Fats

Be wary of trans fats in packaged foods in the form of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. In essence, these are manmade fats. Our bodies do not have a natural mechanism to break them down, hence causing a big inflammatory response[2]. The rule of staying away from packaged, highly-processed foods applies here. Remember, you want to look for very short ingredient lists that consist of high-quality and organic products.

Low-Quality Meat, Especially Red

Meat can be very high in saturated fat. Add a slice of cheese with hydrogenated oil, cooked with a char over the flame and you have one inflammation-loving meal disguised as a cheeseburger. Most fast food and American restaurants use meat from animals that are fed a completely GMO grain diet. Meat products such as chicken nuggets and hamburgers may also include chemical preservatives and fillers that may encourage a reaction from your body.

So what is there to do? Start by researching sugar elimination and anti-inflammatory diets. You will find that they are very similar. Removing the foods listed above from your diet should be a great first step in your battle with inflammation.




Closer to Your Food is a wellness blog focused on eating and cooking for health and sustainability with recipes and lifestyle tips formulated around a plant-based diet and home-grown local foods. Chef Lauren Cox holds a B.A. from the le Cordon Bleu in Culinary Management with over 8 years of fine dining experience in private dining, catering and Michelan star restaurants. For more information, please visit and follow Closer to Your Food on Twitter and Facebook @Closer2YourFood. 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.