Inflammation is a normal process our bodies use to pump blood into a damaged area, like when you sprain your ankle; there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem comes with chronic inflammation, which happens when your body thinks it’s being hurt or under attack, your body starts defending itself non-stop versus an invisible enemy.
A generalized inflammation can lead to hypertension, heart disease, soreness and more. We could confidently say that chronic inflammation is behind most modern illnesses. So, how to prevent it? Let’s start by avoiding food that causes inflammation. Here are the top 10 inflammatory food to avoid like the plague.
Sugar and refined carbs
Sugar is public enemy number one, not because it’s in itself harmful, but because we abuse it. We just overeat it. Sugar is not only present in sweets, candies, chocolates and pastries, but frozen pizza, salad dressings, tomato sauce and many other everyday foods.
Sugar and refined carbs, like white flour, are directly linked to inflammation and other illnesses like insulin resistance that leads to diabetes type 2.
We need oil to cook; there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s easy to see why adding a dash of oil to your pan is massively different from deep-frying your food. Fried foods are just too much for our bodies, which react violently in the form of inflammation.
The problem is in the oil itself; vegetable and seed oils often used to fry food have large amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids, which in excess can deteriorate your health.
We might stay clear from sugar, but we always forget our sweet drinks are sugar sources as well! And of the worst kind: high-fructose corn syrup. This stuff is almost poison; our bodies have to work extra hard to destroy these synthetic molecules causing inflammation.
Too much fructose, found in all your sweetened sodas, can cause obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, liver disease, and even cancer. Diet sodas have their risks too, but they’re way healthier than the regular kind.
Red meat, which includes steaks and burgers, have lots of saturated fats. Our bodies need some saturated fat to work correctly, but not too much. It turns out red meat causes an increased c-reactive protein production (CRP), which is directly associated with inflammation.
When our bodies break down red meat, many compounds are created, which your body then has to control; this is an alert sign that stresses our bodies, effectively resulting in inflammation.
Actually, red meat is not that bad compared to processed meat. Cured, salted and smoked meat are not only high in saturated fat, they’re loaded with salt and preservatives such as nitrates — this is an inflammation bomb for your body, a real threat you must cut out from your diet today. Say goodbye to hot dogs, pastrami and ham, at least if you want to stay healthy.
Margarine, shortening, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, and coffee creamers all have high amounts of trans fats, hydrogenated oils processed to gain a solid texture. This, my friend, is the most critical thing to avoid, ever. These fats increase cholesterol, elevating inflammation markers in the process, and they also lower your levels of good cholesterol.
Learn to spot trans fats and stay clear from them. Most convenience and fast foods are sources for it.
Many people are either allergic or intolerant to lactose in dairy products; many others just don’t digest them well. Actually, 60% of the world population can’t digest milk and other dairy products easily.
If you’re part of that percentage, and there’s a good chance you are, dairy will trigger an inflammatory response in your body. Try to incorporate plant-based alternatives to your diet instead, such as almond or coconut milk.
Vegetable and Seed Oils
The most common cooking oils in the world are also the unhealthiest. Most vegetable and seed oils contain high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids that cause inflammation. The worst part is that most of what we eat: processed foods, are loaded with these oils too. Add to this our everyday cooking and all that fried food, and you’ll see why inflammation is a widespread ailment.
Small amounts of alcohol can be healthy but abusing the substance will damage your liver and increase your inflammation markers, leading to an unpleasant phenomenon called ‘leaky gut’ that can lead to bacterial infections and more inflammation.
Limit your alcohol to a maximum daily intake of two standard drinks for men and one for women. Hard spirits are also more harmful than beer or wine; the latter considered the most beneficial health-wise.
Monosodium glutamate is a type of sodium salt naturally found in many foods. When tasted, MSG gives the sensation of ‘umami’ or deliciousness. Tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce and many other every day products have adequate amounts of MSG. Still, the fast food and convenience food industries add it artificially to their products as well, and that’s when MSG becomes a problem.
Several studies have found a direct relation between high inflammation and the consumption of MSG-enhanced processed foods.
Say no to inflammation!
Chronic inflammation is the real silent killer. There’s no way around it, so avoid the foods above and reduce the risk of inflammation in every meal; every food choice matters.
Try to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet as well: Tomatoes, olive oil, leafy greens, avocado and fatty fish will help you keep your inflammation markers in check. While you’re at it, exercise a little — a proper diet along with an active lifestyle is the real secret behind a long, happy and healthy life.