Top 13 Inflammatory Foods You Should Avoid
The older we get, the weaker our bodies become. Namely, the skin gets looser, the muscles lose their strength, and the joints are not as flexible as they should be. The contemporary diet is rich in inflammatory foods, which is bad for the body and does not help it maintain its previous pace.
This is why it is said that the body ages much faster than the mind. This is especially true when it comes to the joints. Every day for years our joints are weary and overexposed, so they age before their time. This leads to problems with mobility, swelling, and chronic pain.
Joint pain is usually caused by inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and bursitis.
What Is Inflammation?
The Web MD explains that the inflammation is a process by which the white blood cells in the body and the substances they produce to protect us from infection caused by foreign organisms like bacteria and viruses are attacked. When the immune system stimulates an inflammatory response in conditions when there are no invaders to fight off, chronic inflammation occurs. In cases of chronic inflammation the body attacks its own tissues.
Arthritis is an inflammatory condition and its symptoms include:
- Pain in the joints
- Swelling in the joint area which is sometimes warm to the touch
- Joint stiffness
- Loss of the joint function
When the white blood cells release substances that boost the flood flow to the site of infection of injury, inflammation occurs and the area becomes tender, hot, and swollen. When the body is healthy, the extra blood accelerates the process of healing of wounds. But, in cases of inflammation in a healthy joint, the cartilage slowly breaks down as a result.
Inflammation and Disease
Even though inflammation is included in the body’s natural healing system, too much of it is not good.
Actually, systemic inflammation is what causes numerous health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, and much more. The compounds that are responsible for this damage are the cytokines and the C-reactive protein (CRP).
The group of inflammatory diseases also includes:
- Lung problems
- Heart disease
- Bone issues
- Anger disorders
The question everyone poses is what the reason behind inflammation is. Some of the reasons include stress, lack of sleep, smoking, dehydration, drinking alcohol, and imbalance of the gut bacteria, which all add to the inflammation. However, the major, and the most easily reversible cause is consumption of food that causes inflammation.
Top 13 Inflammatory Foods
We present you a list of the top foods that impact inflammation and that you should avoid at all costs. In case you find out that the food you consume is inflammatory, learn how to change that.
If you take in sugar in huge amounts, it can lead to tooth decay and increase in your chances to develop inflammation, obesity, and chronic diseases, including metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Bad bacteria and cancer cells thrive on sugar, meaning that if you consume a lot sugar you give your immune system a hard time. Sugar can lead to inflammation directly due to the fact that it is excessively acidic in nature.
It is found in: soft drinks, fruit drinks, and punches, which are all sweetened with sugar, as well as sweets such as desserts, pastries, snacks, candies, and other processed foods.
Substitute: try to change your diet and consume natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey, agave, or blackstrap molasses. If you have a sweet tooth, make sure that you snack some fresh berries or all-natural dried fruits which will help you fix your craving.
2. Artificial Sweeteners
Cytokines are inflammatory messengers that are released due to the intake of processed sugars and sweeteners. We need to point out one of them, corn syrup, which causes inflammation of the liver and adds to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
They are found in: processed foods and sweets. Avoid at all costs corn syrup, maltose, golden syrup, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, and sorghum syrup.
Substitute: avoid the artificial foods and opt for all-natural sweets such as dates and honey. Also, if you want to cut down on the intake of calories, use stevia instead of splenda.
3. Common Cooking Oils
Most homes and restaurants use vegetable cooking oils which are full of omega-6 fatty acids and dismally low in omega-3 fats. If you consume these omega-6 fatty acids in hue amounts they can trigger the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals that wreak havoc on your body.
They are found in: all polyunsaturated vegetable oils, including sunflower oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, and grapeseed oil. Moreover, these compounds are founf in soy, peanut, and vegetable oils. Processed foods, baked goods, fast food and dried foods are loaded in these oils.
Substitute: instead of the abovementioned oils, you are recommended to use extra virgin olive oil, macadamia oil, or avocado oil. If you are not sure which one to use, you can always go with coconut oil.
4. Trans Fats
Almost every person knows that trans fatty acids are very bad because of their double whammy effect: the raise the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body and lower the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol. They also add to inflammatory responses. Actually, the Harvard School of Public Health warned about the hazards of trans fats in the early 1990s.
Another group of hazardous compounds is the group of saturated fats. There have been a number of studies which have shown that saturated fats trigger adipose (fat tissue) inflammation, which is not only an indicator for heart disease, but it also worsens arthritis inflammation.
They are found in: fast foods, deep fried foods, commercially baked goods and food prepared in partially hydrogenated oil, margarine, frozen food, and vegetable shortening.
Substitute: always try to use alternative products that contain no trans fats and no partially hydrogenated oil or vegetable shortening in the ingredients list. If you are not sure, you can avoid all commercially prepared foods cause almost all of them contain trans fats, unless stated otherwise.
5. Dairy Products
About sixty percent of the world’s population cannot digest milk. Actually, according to a number of researchers, being able to digest milk beyond infancy is abnormal, rather than the other way round. One of the commonest allergens is milk and it can trigger inflammatory responses, including stomach distress, diarrhea, constipation, acne, skin rashes, hives, and breathing difficulties in susceptible people.
In addition, all those pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics given to animals make their way into their milk too, compounding the problem.
They are found in: besides the obvious milk products such as butter and cheese, milk is also contained in foods with hidden dairy content like cookies, breads, cakes, crackers, cream sauces, boxed cereals, and protein powder. Due to the fact that milk is an allergen, it usually explicitly appears on the food labels.
Substitute: instead of regular milk, you can use coconut milk or homemade nut milk. Coconut oil is a great replacement of butter and cashews is a great replacement of cheese.
6. Non-Organic Meat
Meats that are produced commercially are fed with grains such as corn and soybeans, ingredients that are high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids but low in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. These ingredients also contain loads of antibiotics and hormones that have been given to keep the animals free from infections and to speed up their reproduction. Lately, scientists have found out that chicken meat can also cause cancer.
They are found in: almost all beef, pork and poultry on the market and in the restaurants come from feedlot farms. The only exception is the one which is labeled not to come from this type of farms.
Substitute: you should use free-range and organic meat that comes from animals fed on grass and vegetables.
7. Processed Meat
All processed meats are salted, cured, smoker, or preserved in some other way. This type of meat usually contains additional nitrates, soy, corn products, and preservatives and coloring agents. All these compounds make these products so toxic that it becomes carcinogenic and it leads to bowel cancer. Did you find this hard to swallow?
It is found in: hotdogs, sausages, hams, bacon, salami, and lunch meat.
Substitute: avoid the processed meat and consume fresh meat, poultry and fish instead. You can also consume organic alternatives such as smoked salmon or beef jerky.
Consumption of alcohol on regular basis causes irritation and inflammation on numerous organs, including the esophagus, the larynx (the voice box) and the liver. Over time, this inflammation becomes chronic and it promotes growth of tumors and cancers at the sites of repeated irritation.
It is found in: ciders, beers, wines, liqueurs, and liquors.
Substitute: avoid alcohol and consume refreshing and thirst-quenching beverages such as tea, pure and filtered water, as well as fresh-squeezed juice.
9. Refined Grains
Most of the grains we consume nowadays are genetically modified, processed, and full of herbicides and pesticides. Some of the grains, the wheat for example, are so refined that can lead to severe allergy-like symptoms in most people. What is even worse, the wheat is bleached and depleted of its nutrients, which are added later in the form of synthetic vitamins and minerals. This is the reason behind the labels “enriched” often found on white flour.
Moreover, refined grains are no different from refined sugars in terms of the high glycemic index which can hasten the onset of degenerative diseases like cancer, diabetes, and coronary disease.
They are found in: white flour, white bread, pastries, biscuits, pasta, and noodles.
Substitute: instead of refined grains, use ancient healthy grains such as quinoa, amaranth, rye, spelt, millet, chia, and buckwheat. You can find these grains in the form of whole grains or prepared whole grain flour in most stores for healthy food.
This preservative (short for monosodium glutamate) is a food additive than enhances the flavor of the processed foods. It is rich in fermented starch, molasses, corn sugar, sugar cane, or sugar beets.
The body uses MSG as a neurotransmitter. But, due to the fact that this compound is synthetic, it causes cytoplasm swelling, damage of the nucleus and loss of neurons in the brain of unborn children. MSG in adults causes brain swelling, symptoms that remind allergies, and headaches. The side effects of this substance include excessive sweating, stomach aches, troubles sleeping, and more.
In a study carried out on young mice, it has been shown that MSG causes NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) and NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis).
It is found in: this substance is usually found in the store-bought Asian food and the food prepared in Asian restaurants. It has been found that this substance is also present in the restaurants that declare to prepare “MSG-free” food.
Substitute: try to enhance the taste of your food with salt and pepper or some other spices. In case you do not know if your favorite Chinese restaurant uses this ingredient, try to cook Asian food at home.
One of the most healthy and nutritious grains is corn, but the ancient form of it. The one that we find at the grocery stores is genetically modified, as well as the one used in processed foods. One of the most commonly genetically modified foods is actually corn, and it is one of the most susceptible to pesticide residue. Actually, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has increased the allowed levels of glyphosate on corn crops and it is now fifty times bigger than it was in 1996.
Glyphosate kills off the beneficial gut bacteria and thus allows bad bacteria to thrive. As a result, the body develops an inflammatory response and achy joints appear. The glyphosate is also responsible for a number of digestive diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease. Humans are not the only type affected by the veggies. A study has shown that pigs fed GMO corn and soy also develop widespread intestinal inflammation, and this is partly due to glyphosate exposure.
It is found in: cereals, processed meat, conventional baked goods, breakfast bars, and sweets (corn syrup).
Substitute: try to find organic corn or use other small vegetables like peas and beans instead of corn.
12. Refined Salts
Our body needs sodium for a proper nerve and muscle function, blood pressure regulation, and much more. However, if we consume it in great amounts, we can cause high blood pressure, low bone density, kidney problems, fluid retention, and inflammation. The body usually discharges the extra sodium through sweating and urination.
The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition has published a study which has shown that high salt intake is related to enhanced inflammation and target organ damage. The table salt we use on a daily basis differs from the unprocessed salt because it is heated at extreme temperatures and is full of questionable additives.
It is found in: fast food, processed food, and almost any food served in the restaurants.
Substitute: instead of iodized salt, you are recommended to use all-natural, unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt. Do not use extra salt to add some flavor to your meals, but try using spices and herbs instead.
13. Fill in the Blank
You probably wonder what this blank is. This blank is supposed to be filled by you with the food that you are sensitive to. There are a lot of people who are sensitive to certain foods, but are completely unaware of it. Food allergies come with fast and furious symptoms, but food intolerances have symptoms which may take longer time to manifest.
As a result, when you notice these symptoms of food intolerance, they are often brushed off as common minor ailments like tiredness and headaches. However, if you expose yourself to food that irritates you for a long period and repeatedly, it will cause inflammation in your body and lead to chronic disease.
It is found in: one of the commonest food allergens are milk, nuts, gluten, eggs, and nightshade vegetables. Despite the fact that most people do not think so, it is possible to develop an allergy to the foods you eat often.
Substitute: in case you assume that a particular food may be responsible for your food intolerance response, try to leave it out of your diet for about two weeks time and observe your body’s reaction. Once the abstinence period is over, reintroduce the food back into your diet. In case you do have intolerance to this type of food, you should be able to notice the difference in how you feel easily.
Managing Chronic Inflammation
In order to get inflammation under control, make sure that you target its root cause first. Start by cutting out foods that promote inflammation and adding in foods that combat inflammation. Substitute the canola oil with olive or coconut oil and spice your meals up with a little turmeric and anti-inflammatory herbs. Make sure you use unprocessed, whole foods and drink a lot of water.
In the end, concentrate on your health and make sure you also exercise on a regular basis. Also, it is vital that you lower your stress levels. Another essential thing is that you get enough sleep every day, which is seven to nine hours, and in this way, your body will recover at night and reduce inflammation on its own.
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