There are many more foods which exacerbate
chronic inflammation than foods which directly cause it. In other words,
there are specific nutrients which, when consumed by healthy
individuals, will have both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory
effects, but when these same nutrients are consumed by people who
already suffer from chronic inflammation, their effect is much more pro-inflammatory.
It should also be noted that the most important role food plays in chronic inflammation is not what we do eat, but what we don't eat enough of. Fruits, vegetables, and most crucially spices all play a huge role in turning down the levels of pro-inflammatory messengers. It can be hypothesized that the biggest role pro-inflammatory foods have is that they replace anti-inflammatory foods in our diet, making it more about balancing inflammatory foods than completely removing them.
How Spices and Herbs Fight Inflammation
A lot of attention has been focused recently on turmeric as an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer spice. Turmeric does contain a high number of active anti-inflammatory and disease preventing compounds, but the truth is that every spice and herb contains anti-inflammatory compounds, usually at least three. And, whereas most drugs target only single pathways, the anti-inflammatory compounds found in herbs and spices target multiple pathways, meaning they provide health in many ways, not just one.
All spices turn down the production of TNFa, NFkB, IL-6, and other inflammatory messengers. When combined with foods which may provide a pro-inflammatory effect, the herbs and spices help keep our immune response in check. Many of the same herbs and spices also aid in the prevention of cancer, by turning down NFkB activity. Some of the active compounds have been also been shown to be chemosensitizers--they help chemotherapy target the cancerous cells while protecting the healthy ones at the same time!