Chronic inflammation can lead to long term health issues such as chronic pain, tissue damage, cancer, obesity, asthma, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. The connection between diet and health has been known for millennia. However, only recently have we started to understand the ways in which certain foods and dietary patterns can promote inflammation or fight against it. Let’s take a look at the top foods that cause inflammation so you can fight the informed fight for your health.
What is inflammation?
Acute inflammation is your body’s natural response to defend itself against elements that could cause it harm. Some of these include infections, injuries, and toxins. When you bump or cut your arm, antibodies and protein will rush to the area with blood to try and protect cells and tissue. But with an injury, this inflammation should only be temporary as the area heals.
Chronic inflammation occurs when your body maintains the state of alertness for longer periods of time – months or years rather than months or days.
What causes chronic inflammation?
Surprisingly, the role of chronic inflammation in chronic disease has only recently been understood, and there is still plenty we don’t know.
While many cases of chronic inflammation don’t have a clear underlying cause, there are certain lifestyle factors that can trigger or worsen chronic inflammation. Some of the factors that may contribute to chronic inflammation include:
- Unbalanced or poor diet
- Chronic stress
- Alcohol consumption
Some health or occupational conditions can also cause chronic inflammation, including:
- Untreated infections or injuries
- Autoimmune disorders
- Long-term exposure to irritants, chemicals, or pollution
Your diet and inflammation
There are certain dietary elements that are likely to spark an inflammatory response. Below are 5 foods that promote chronic inflammation – and that you should keep away from:
Trans fats and partially-hydrogenated oils
Trans fats are found naturally in some foods, but these aren’t the ones we are talking about here. The trans fats you need to avoid are those that are artificially produced in the lab through a process called hydrogenation. In short, hydrogenation is a chemical process in which the chemical composition of fats naturally found liquid at room temperature are made solid.
Even though trans fats should be eliminated from foods, there are still some foods that have trans fats. They may even be in quantities that don’t require companies to report them in the nutritional label. You can tell if a food has trans fats (even if it says 0g on the nutritional facts label) if the ingredient list contains hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil.
2. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup
This is a tough one to follow if you have a sweet tooth. But facts are facts. Sugar and sugar alternatives like high fructose corn syrup have a significant impact on inflammation, and that inflammation can lead to disease. One of the most consumed products that contain sugar or high-fructose corn syrup is soda. People who regularly drink these sugary drinks can have increased levels of uric acid. In turn, this can increase inflammation and insulin resistance.