Inflammation Inducing Foods


How proven/reliable is the science regarding inflammation-inducing foods? I am specifically interested in studies linking chronic inflammation with a specific kind of nutrition and illnesses such as heart disease, cancers, arthritis and Alzheimer’s Disease.

What’s the IF (Inflammation Factor) of Soylent?

Villous blunting, elemental alternative, colitis, malabsorption, mast cell

The answer is: More pseudo-science based on ZERO actual scientific research. The IF Rating/Scale was created in 2005 by Monica Reinagel, who has a Masters degree in, guess what, Nutrition (we seem to see a lot of odd things coming from people with a degree in nutrition with no scientific research work). She wrote a book and now publicizes it on things like The Dr. Oz Show, print publications, and the Huffington Post web site.

Her personal web site mentions nothing about her book, the IF Scale, or even that she is a nutritionist: It completely focuses on her opera singing career. Not even a link to any of her nutrition work.

None of the scientific research linked on the IF website was written by her or even includes her as a contributor. Using other peoples work that is applied in very narrow research terms isn’t research. On her nutrition web site ( she says: “I don’t endorse any specific diet doctrine.” and “Sometimes, you may choose to eat something not because it’s good for you but because you love it.”

Doesn’t sound very scientific to me and I’d take any diet (and that’s what the IF scale is, a diet plan) she recommends with a very large dose of skepticism. If you have a problem with inflammation or Inflammatory bowel disease, you should contact a doctor.


Inflammation Factor might be bunk. Probably is.

But work is being done by actual scientists to identify how much inflammation various foods cause. See also: (and the articles linked on the right-hand side of that page). I pulled up the chart (thanks, library!), and it doesn’t cover a lot of specific foods–it compares things like “carbohydrates,” “caffeine,” “vitamin B12,” and “fiber,” so it’s hard to use to answer this question. (Carbohydrates and fats aren’t great. Protein, fiber, lots of the vitamins Soylent includes are great.)

I suffer from psoriatic arthritis, so I’ve looked into the correlation between foods and inflammation, using mostly PubMed, Mayo Clinic, and various psoriasis and arthritis awareness associations. My information is legit, but potentially only refers to arthritis-specific inflammation. (Potentially not. A lot of the same things show up with asthma.)

I’ll share my notes, in case they’re helpful. And I’ll mark the things that show up in Soylent.

Helps to reverse inflammation:

  • +Whole grains without gluten (ideally no added sugars)
  • Greens - spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard greens (maybe all cruciferous veggies?)
  • Soy milk, tofu, edamame
  • Low-fat dairy (only if you aren’t sensitive to it)
  • Peppers (only if you aren’t sensitive)
  • Tomatoes - lycopene (ditto)
  • Beets
  • Fresh fruit
  • Carrots
  • Ginger + turmeric
  • Garlic + onion (quercitin)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Berries (esp. raspberry, blueberry, strawberry)
  • Tart cherries - 1 cup of juice or 1.5 cups cherries per day
  • +Vegetarian diet (not really a component, but still a relevant thing)
  • +EPA (omega 3s)
  • +Fatty fish (or fish oil) (but it takes lots to affect arthritis)
  • Beta-carotene
  • +Vitamin C
  • +Vitamin D
  • +Vitamin E
  • +Selenium

Causes inflammation:

  • Red meat
  • Alcohol
  • -Sugar (I marked this even though there’s probably sufficient fiber to counteract it, and maybe maltodextrin is less bad than other
    kinds, though I doubt that)

My conclusion:
Soylent would be even cooler if they added quercitin, beta carotene, lycopene, and whatever the active chemical in turmeric is.


Sorry to double-post, but I used Wikipedia’s numbers for canola oil and cod liver oil (I haven’t seen a specific fish oil source identified yet), and it looks like the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio is greater than 1:1–just a bit less than 4:3. So that’s good news, in terms of inflammation concerns!

I’ll probably still supplement with fish oil on my own, but that’s due to the arthritis and should be entirely unnecessary for most people.


Finishing up my third year of post-graduate studies in medicine (grad degree in biology/animal physiology) so I’ll add my two cents:

First - I love the list you just posted, you’ve done your research and those are some of the largest contenders in individuals with inflammatory disease (which we see every day in clinic). The body is complicated, and everyone is different, but in general we think it’s pro-oxidative foods (and/or poor anti-oxidative status, read: Glutathione, Superoxide Dismutase) as well as imbalances in your bodies ability to modulate it’s own inflammatory response (read: Arachadonic Acid). Sugars cause particularly problematic substances called Advanced Glycosylated End Products (AGEs) which primarily cause endothelial damage which potentiates the problem This list works on many of these systems.

Second - the active constituent of turmeric that helps with inflammation is a compound called “curcumin”. There is currently a growing body of research on its efficacy and side effects. At this point there is some evidence that it may interfere with your bodies ability to clot; anti-thrombotics are great for some people and may provide longterm benefits, but are also contraindicated in some individuals. Quercetin, likewise, may interfere with several p450 liver enzymes, affecting drug clearance. Point in case, until further research is done, it’s best to keep these substances out of a meal replacement as it could interact with a patients medications or condition.

Third - in case you didn’t already know, a fantastic source of lycopene is tomato paste :wink: