1. Excess weight
Carrying extra pounds contributes to chronic inflammation because fat encourages the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. According to a University of Vermont study, obese women who lost an average of 39 pounds also reduced their inflammation levels by 32 percent (Circulation, 2002, vol. 105, no. 5).

2. High-glycemic foods
Research by Simin Liu, MD, PhD, at Harvard Medical School found that women who ate large quantities of high-glycemic carbohydrates (such as sugar, white potatoes, white rice, processed cereals, and muffins) had significantly increased CRP levels (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2002, vol. 75, no. 3). Elevated CRP has been linked to increased risk of heart attack (New England Journal of Medicine, 2002, vol. 347, no. 20).

3. Protein cooked at high temps
Cooking meat at high temperatures, such as when grilling, creates "advanced glycosylation end products," or AGEs, which crank up inflammation. According to research conducted at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, inflammation rose 35 percent in diabetics who ate large quantities of AGEs, but it fell 20 percent in those who ate low levels of AGEs (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2002, vol. 99, no. 24). High levels of AGEs are also found in some cheeses, soy sauces, pretzels, and diet sodas.

4. Saturated fats
In 2004, researchers at the University of New York at Buffalo found that people who ate a high-fat, high-calorie, fast-food breakfast had significantly elevated levels of inflammatory markers in their blood for three hours after the meal (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004, vol. 79, no. 4). Eating such meals on a frequent basis can create a chronic state of inflammation in the blood vessels and lead to the development of atherosclerosis.

5. Gum disease
Chronic bacterial infection of the gums, also known as periodontal disease, has been found to trigger the production of CRP and other proteins that inflame and promote the formation of blood clots in the arteries (Journal of Peridontology, 2001, vol. 72, no. 9).