We know too much inflammation is a bad thing. It’s a necessary part of life. In fact, it’s a part of the healing process.
But if something happens to us or our children, we check constantly for the telltale swelling and redness that mean the inflammation is getting out of control. And sustained inflammation leads to worse things such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.
But not all inflammation is that obvious. And injuries aren’t the only cause.
Sometimes it’s your food.
Foods that Promote Inflammation
We love them. White bread, rice, pasta – they fill our diets. But these carbohydrates often have added sugar and lack the fiber that keeps our bodies functioning. More importantly, they produce cytokines, which actually tell your body to have an inflammatory response.
Try Instead: Whole grains (you know, the brown stuff) have less sugar and more fiber. They also tell your body NOT to produce cytokines.
Sorry, ladies. While we’ve all seen those articles promoting the benefits of red wine, it still remains that too much alcohol is bad for you. After all, alcoholic beverages contain a lot of sugar, both added and naturally.
Try Instead: Limit the amount of alcohol you drink (your wallet will thank you, too).
It’s easy to over-consume omega-6 fatty acids. Large amounts show up in our favorite cooking oils (safflower, sunflower, canola, corn) without an equal level of omega-3s.
Try Instead: Coconut and olive oils are more balanced in their omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid levels. Which is great, because cutting omega-6s out of your diet completely is bad.
That yogurt you love probably isn’t helping. The probiotics do aid in your digestion, and the protein is good, too. The problem? Too much added sugar in most of the flavored yogurt cups on the market. This is a problem found in many of our on-the-go breakfast solutions, from prepared oatmeal to cereal bars.
Try Instead: Buy plain yogurt and be sure to check the label for added sugars. Add your own flavors by mixing in your favorite fruits or nuts. You can also make your own oatmeal or cereal bars.
Come on, you can’t tell us you weren’t expecting that. Just step away from the fries and burgers. The partially hydrogenated oil used in most fried foods (you know it as trans fat) causes a serious systemic inflammatory response in your body.
Try Instead: There are hundreds of recipes online promoting healthy alternatives to your favorite fried foods, like these zucchini chips we found.
The more processed a food is, the less fiber it has. Check the label and you’ll find plenty of added sugars, too. Many good vitamins and minerals are processed right out of the ingredients, too.
Try Instead: Replace processed foods with raw or unprocessed alternatives. And it doesn’t mean you have to give up on the good stuff – check out this pumpkin cheesecake recipe.
These meats are full of additives linked to inflammation, including advanced glycation end-products and monosodium glutamate (aka MSG). There are also other health problems associated with eating too many processed meats, including colon cancer.
Try Instead: Types of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids are the best meats for avoiding inflammation. Chicken is another alternative.
Fight the Effects of Inflammation
So what do you do if you can’t avoid eating inflammation-causing foods? Minimize the effects by:
Drinking Plenty of Water
The benefits of drinking water include healthier joints (because water keeps them lubricated) and flushing toxins out of your body. Guess what happens when those toxins stay in your body? Inflammation (and a host of other issues like kidney troubles). Problem is, most people don’t drink enough.
Eating Foods that Fight Inflammation
Fruits, vegetables (especially dark leafy green vegetables), nuts, and certain spices have properties that ease inflammatory responses in your body. Good choices include:
Have you given up on physical activity thanks to your inflammation? Talk with your doctor about comfortable ways to get back into it. Studies have shown a correlation between exercise, even light exercise, and lowered rates of inflammation.
Click here to learn about how to walk your way to pain-free weigh loss!
Fight the Good Fight!
Changing your diet, drinking more water, and exercising won’t magically cure you. But if you suffer from a condition characterized or worsened by inflammation, these tips should ease your symptoms. Work with your physician to find the best treatment for you.
Authority Nutrition – “6 Foods That Cause Inflammation” - https://authoritynutrition.com/6-foods-that-cause-inflammation/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – “Water & Nutrition” - http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/index.html
Global Healing Center – “6 Healthy Foods that Cause Inflammation” - http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/6-healthy-foods-that-cause-inflammation/
Harvard Health Publications - What you eat can fuel or cool inflammation, a key driver of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions - http://www.health.harvard.edu/family_health_guide/what-you-eat-can-fuel-or-cool-inflammation-a-key-driver-of-heart-disease-diabetes-and-other-chronic-conditions
International Society for Environmental Epidemiology – “Does Exercise Reduce Inflammation? Physical Activity and C-Reactive Protein Among U.S. Adults” - http://journals.lww.com/epidem/Abstract/2002/09000/Does_Exercise_Reduce_Inflammation__Physical.12.aspx
MDhealth.com – “Foods That Cause Inflammation” - http://www.md-health.com/Foods-That-Cause-Inflammation.html
Nava Health & Vitality Center – “The 27 Acidic Foods That Can Cause Inflammation” - http://www.navacenter.com/community/blogs/the-27-acidic-foods-that-can-cause-inflammation
US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health – “Obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes: inflammatory basis of glucose metabolic disorders” - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18240540