Inflammation –What does food have to do with it?
Today there is so much information about all sorts of things. Eat this and Not that – try this diet and then this will happen… The list goes on and on.
No matter what – our choice of foods does not make us good and does not make us bad!
But we do know from multiple studies there are some foods that it would be best if we ate them with caution to reduce inflammation!
Depending on the situation, inflammation can be good or bad. It’s your body’s natural way to protect itself from injury or illness and stimulates healing.
But chronic inflammation within the body can also lead to diseases and other health issues – heart disease, diabetes and obesity – just to name a few.
Today, we know that the foods we eat can have a major effect on the inflammation within your body! It really does matter what we eat.
The foods we eat are either fighting inflammation or fueling it!
Some of the biggest inflammation contributors are:
- Sugars and high fructose corn syrup – in studies sugars have been found to increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, some types of rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic disorders, insulin resistance, fatty liver disease and chronic kidney disease. Consuming too much sugar can also counteract the good benefits of the anti-inflammatory omega – 3 fatty acids.
- Refined carbohydrates – such as breads, candies, pastries, pastas, cookies, cakes, sugary drinks and all processed foods that contain added sugar and flour. These have been found to increase the growth of inflammatory gut bacteria which can increase the risk for obesity and inflammatory bowel plus many other diseases.
- Alcohol – in excess (meaning more than 1 drink per day for women) may increase inflammation and lead to “leaky gut” that drives inflammation throughout the body.
- Processed meats – bacon, sausage, ham, smoked meats and jerky are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stomach cancer and colon cancer. They are known inflammatory offenders that have been also linked to autoimmune conditions.
- Fatty red meats – ground beef, ribs, chuck roasts and other fatty cuts of fatty beef are considered inflammatory perpetrators because animal fats have been linked to chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer in many different studies.
- Dairy & Cheese – cow’s milk and cream cheese have been known to be highly inflammatory and may lead to stomach upset, constipation or diarrhea, hives and breathing issues. In 2013 a Harvard study found that dairy rapidly alters the microorganisms residing in the gut and their capacity for high levels of inflammation in the GI tract. The good news here is there are currently many great alternatives available like almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk or organic soy milk. Most of these work well in things calling for milk or in your favorite coffee or tea.
- Margarines – spreads high in partially-hydrogenated oils exacerbate the inflammatory response and are recommended by many physicians to avoid if possible. A better alternative would be olive, avocado or canola oil or clarified butter like ghee.
- Battered & deep fat fried foods – the breading is basically refined carbs and they also contain a high amount of saturated fat and calories. It is much better to roast, grill, sauté, steam, poach or even pan fry.
- Vegetable oils such as soy, sunflower and safflower are high in omega-6 fatty acids and a diet too high in omega-6 can cause inflammation. Better choices which are rich in heart-healthy omegs-3 fatty acids include extra virgin olive oil, expeller pressed canola oil, flaxseed oil, hemp oil, or walnut oil.
Inflammation is very complex and can affect each person differently. By reducing some of the foods that are known to cause inflammation – we can at least reduce the risks.
We all have a choice in what we select to eat. We can eat the foods we love, still lose weight and be healthier – we just need to think about the size of the serving and the frequency.