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The Worst Breakfast Foods for Inflammation, Says Dietitian

These super common breakfasts might be increasing inflammation in your body.

Inflammation is a word that we hear a lot nowadays. There's even an anti-inflammatory diet that can help reduce inflammation in our body. But what really is inflammation and how does it affect our health?

Inflammation occurs naturally all the time. If you get a paper cut, your finger gets red, swollen, and puffy. This is an immune response from the body to control the bleeding and prevent infection in the paper cut.

Because inflammation is always happening, we don't want to completely stop it. However, the problem occurs when we have large-scale, chronic inflammation. This type of inflammation is more systemic than a localized paper cut.

Chronic inflammation is driven by lifestyle factors like nutrition, stress, sleep, and exercise. This phenomenon occurs when a variety of lifestyle factors stimulate our immune system.

Consider the standard American lifestyle: sedentary desk job, a highly-processed diet, and chronic stress. These key factors all can influence chronic inflammation in the body.

Over time, chronic inflammation has been linked to a host of health concerns: diabetes, heart disease, and stroke are the top three concerns.

So, let's focus on starting our day off on the right foot to begin decreasing chronic inflammation. Consider limiting these five common breakfast foods to lower inflammation in your body! Then, for more healthy tips, be sure to catch up on The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science.



frosted flakes

Your favorite breakfast when you were growing up might not be doing you any favors today. Most cold breakfast cereals are high in simple carbohydrates and added sugars. These options tend to spike your blood sugar and start your day off on a blood glucose roller coaster.

Opt for more balance by choosing higher fiber and higher protein options to prevent blood sugar swings. Even swapping cold cereals for hot cereals like oatmeal is a good start.


Meal replacement options

meal replacement shake

Meal replacement shakes and bars sound like the perfect one-stop-shop solution, but often they are full of easily digestible carbs and sugars and don't keep us feeling full for very long.

Consider a super quick smoothie option instead where you can control your ingredients! Include a fruit or a vegetable to add antioxidants that specifically help lower inflammation.


Processed meats


Breakfast meats like sausage, fried bologna, and bacon are high in compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These compounds have been linked to higher levels of inflammation and traced back to chronic disease and specific types of cancer.

Focus on choosing these options less frequently, and opt for alternatives such as ham, turkey bacon, or chicken sausage for a healthier choice.



Plate of pancakes

While we love a short-stack as much as the next person, we don't love the health implications that come with it.

Pancakes and waffles tend to be a concentrated source of white flour, added sugar, and very low in protein or fiber to balance them out. Plus, we like to douse them in syrup, whipped cream, and fruit. This combo is a recipe for inflammatory disaster.

Every once in a while, choosing pancakes is no problem. But if you regularly rely on them for a quick energy boost in the mornings, it might be time to trade them out for something more balanced.


White bread

White bread

Muffins, bagels, and croissants, oh my! These breakfast options are all made with white flour, which is quickly digested and can leave us feeling starving in an hour or two.

Swap your white flour options out for wheat-based breakfasts, and you are already well on your way to lowering inflammation. Whole grains are associated with reduced inflammation, a lower risk of chronic disease, as well as other health benefits like weight loss.

Whole wheat bagels, wraps, and muffins are just as delicious as their white bread counterparts, but they come with the added bonus of health benefits. Here are The Best & Worst Bread in America in 2021—Ranked!

Caroline Thomason, RDN
Caroline is a women's health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more about Caroline