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Popular Breakfast Foods That Increase Inflammation, Say Dietitians

Make sure to keep these items off your plate when you rise and shine

When you need to get your morning going right, you can't take any shortcuts when it comes to breakfast. This important meal has the power to start your day and can put you in the right mood to face whatever life can throw at you. Sometimes, there just isn't the time to have a sit-down breakfast during the week and a pastry or some fruit needs to suffice. Unfortunately, there are some breakfast foods that have the potential to spark inflammation across the body.

According to Harvard Medical School, this phenomenon occurs when your body sends in white blood cells to protect an area from harm. When you eat certain foods, your arteries create plaque, causing a white blood cell response and the inflammation that comes with the territory. If your body is constantly inflamed over time, it can lead to chronic inflammation. If you want to avoid this harmful reaction, you can monitor what items you eat—especially for breakfast.

Keeping an eye on your favorite breakfast foods seems tough, but we consulted a group of experts to whittle down which morning meals create the worst inflammation. When you want to avoid inflammation, make sure to pass up these items and opt for these Healthy Breakfast Foods Dietitians Say You Should Be Eating.


Breakfast pastries

breakfast pastries

Sweet, sugary treats can cause issues at any time of day, including in the morning.

"Breakfast pastries such as muffins and scones contain high amounts of added sugar which promotes inflammation by way of altering the gut microbiota," says Kaytee Hadley RDN, MSNHL, CPT, founder of Holistic Health and Wellness. "In other words, eating a lot of processed sugar feeds the 'bad bacteria' which causes the lining of the gut to become compromised, creating inflammation throughout the entire body."

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Processed meat


If you love to start the day with a sizzling pan of bacon, you might need to cut back a bit if you have experienced inflammation in the past.

"Sausage, bacon, and other highly processed breakfast meats can cause inflammation due to their high concentration of saturated fats," says Hadley. "These fatty acids increase the activity of inflammatory genes as well as inflammatory molecules in white blood cells."


Cereals containing wheat or sugar


Not all cereals are created equal, and this breakfast staple can cause some serious issues if it contains wheat or too much sugar.

"Cereals containing wheat can increase intestinal permeability, allowing molecules to pass through the gut lining and enter the body, causing an immune response and inflammation," says Hadley. "Additionally, breakfast cereals often contain a lot of added sugar which promotes inflammation by feeding 'bad bacteria' in the gut."

If you just can't fathom starting the day without some cereal, make sure to add The Healthiest Breakfast Cereals on the Planet to your next shopping list.


Sugary oatmeal


"Even though oatmeal is a quintessential breakfast food, for many people it tends to lead to a blood sugar roller coaster since oatmeal contains mostly carbohydrates," says Samantha Presicci MCN, RD, LD, CPT, and Whole30 Certified Coach at FOND said. "This unstable blood sugar can then drive inflammation and energy dips, as well as cravings throughout the day."

"If oatmeal is a favorite, a great way to keep blood sugar more balanced is to make sure that you eat it with or alongside protein and healthy fat," Presicci continues. "This might look like a couple of scoops of collagen peptides or protein powder plus some nut butter mixed into your oats, or it might mean pairing your oats with three eggs and some avocado."

"By balancing out the carbohydrates with protein and healthy fat, you're more likely to blunt any blood sugar response," she says. "And when possible, buy organic oats, since some grains are often sprayed heavily with pesticides, which can also increase inflammation in the body."

So make sure to step away from the sugary packets of oatmeal and opt for a plain version that can have those healthier elements added to your bowl for a low-sugar, low-inflammation breakfast!


Meal replacement shakes

meal replacement shake

When you need to hit the floor running, a quick protein shake sounds like the perfect option to get your nutritional fill without wasting any time.

"While there are some good options on the market, many meal replacement shakes contain a myriad of ingredients that drive inflammation, from refined carbohydrates to processed vegetable oils," says Presicci. "It's best to make your own shake at home with a balance of real food ingredients, including protein and healthy fat."

When you make your own shakes at home and want to focus on cutting some weight out of your diet, you can't go wrong with 40+ Best-Ever Breakfast Smoothies For Weight Loss.

Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more about Erich