Whether you have a chronic condition or are trying to eat a healthier diet, it can be hard to know what to eat and what to avoid. While having some inflammation is a normal part of life, having it chronically may be harmful, and can even lead to feelings of depression, weight gain and a weakened immune system. This is why many people try to eat a healthy diet to avoid foods that cause inflammation.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a localized, physical condition in the body that is the reaction to an injury or infection. Often, it causes swelling and pain in the affected area. It is your body’s natural response to protect itself against injury. There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation occurs when you cut your finger or stub your toe, and is your body’s response to the harmful event. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is your body’s response to harm that has occurred over a long period of time, such as inhaled cigarette smoke or an over-abundance of fat cells.
High levels of inflammation in your blood can lead to blood cause, which can cause heart attacks or stroke. Avoiding chronic inflammation is an important part of staying healthy.
How can Foods Cause Inflammation?
Did you know the foods that you eat can actually cause chronic inflammation? If you’ve been exercising and cutting calories and are still having trouble losing weight, chronic inflammation may be playing a role in preventing the weight loss. If the foods that you eat are causing continuous inflammation in your body, this can lead to weight gain, drowsiness, skin problems, digestive issues and many other diseases, including diabetes, obesity and cancer.
Read the list of foods below carefully, and notice if they are regulars in your diet. If so, search out substitutions to see if you can reduce inflammation in your body.
Foods that Cause Inflammation
1. Refined Sugar and High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are commonly added to foods. These types of sugars are linked to triggering the release of inflammatory messengers or cytokines. Cytokines help regulate inflammatory responses.
If you’re eating sugar or high-fructose corn syrup regularly, you may be triggering the release of more inflammatory messengers. As you know, increased inflammation can cause more pain. While having sugar in moderation every now and then is fine, consider skipping dessert most days.
2. Artificial Trans Fats
Of all the types of fats out there, nearly everyone agrees that artificial trans fats are the worst. Artificial trans fats are made by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats (which are liquid) to make them more of a solid fat.
Trans fats are more commonly known as partially hydrogenated oils. For example, most margarines contain trans fats. Trans fats have been shown to lower HDL cholesterol, or good cholesterol, and can increase your risk of developing other conditions.
Additionally, studies have shown that people who eat more trans fats had increased levels of inflammatory makers. Make sure you read labels, so you can avoid trans fats.
3. Refined Carbs
Everyone needs to eat healthy, complex carbohydrates. However, more and more people are eating refined carbs instead of complex carbs. Complex carbs aren’t processed, so your body gets the nutrients and fiber it needs naturally.
Refined carbs don’t offer the nutritional value that complex carbs can. Anytime something is refined or processed, it loses most of its nutrients. Refined carbs, for example, have lost the majority of their fiber. Fiber, which is part of a complex carb, not only helps you feel full, but also maintains blood sugar control and feeds the good bacteria in your belly.
Research has shown that eating refined carbs can increase inflammation inside your gut and make it harder for your body to control or maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
4. Too Much Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can cause serious issues. A study has shown that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol on a regular basis can increase the inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein (CRP).
Over time, the study showed that, as people continued to drink at the same level, their CRP also continued to increase. As inflammation increases in your body, it also increases inside the gut. When this happens, people could develop a problem with bacteria moving out of the colon, which is called “leaky gut.” In addition, a leaky gut can increase inflammation even more. So, it’s best to drink alcohol in moderation.
5. Processed Meats
Like refined sugars or refined carbs, processed meats have been processed a lot, and often contain a variety of additives and preservatives. Processed meats include bacon, ham, smoked meat, beef jerky and more.
These processed meats contain advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are formed by cooking meats at high temperatures. AGEs in processed meats are linked to inflammatory changes that can lead to diseases.
What Can You Do to Reduce Inflammation?
Stick with natural unprocessed meats, carbs, sugars and other foods. Whole foods like fresh fruit and vegetables are rich in nutrients and fiber. Look for organic, unprocessed meats, too.
If you’re carving something sweet, reach for your favorite fruit instead of those cookies. If you need to use oil for cooking, try extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil instead of partially hydrogenated oils. You can also talk with your doctor about your diet and what else you can do to reduce foods that cause inflammation.
Test your sensitivity to 96 different foods, all from home. Shop Now