Understanding Inflammation & What Inflammatory Foods To Avoid


Inflammation is a part of the body’s immune response.  It can be beneficial when, for example, you sprain your ankle, the sprain will cause uncomfortable inflammation so that you know your injury should receive adequate rest and protection. “However, sometimes, inflammation can persist longer than necessary, causing more harm than benefit.” [1] If we do not supply our body with the nutrients and antioxidants to protect cells from being damaged, inflammation will occur. Like an inflamed ankle, this is our body's way of directing our attention to an issue. Uncomfortable symptoms let us know there are irritants that need to be removed or that the body needs to rest so it can start the healing process.


Inflammation isn’t always caused by a physical injury. It can be caused by stress, our diet, poor digestion and other lifestyle factors. Chronic inflammation can eventually lead to many conditions or diseases, including but not limited to:

 
  • allergies

  • seasonal allergies

  • gastrointestinal upsets

  • asthma

  • weight gain

  • Alzheimer’s

  • atherosclerosis

  • diabetes

  • cancer

  • body aches

  • joint pain

  • acne

  • arthritis

  • insomnia

  • mood disorders (anxiety, depression, panic attacks)

  • brain fog

  • fatigue

  • puffy face or eyes


Ignoring symptoms of chronic inflammation can be dangerous. It is best to listen to your body and give it what it needs to function optimally so that you can prevent unwanted ailments.


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Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie Recipes

One of the best things you can do to combat inflammation is to adjust your diet.  Focusing your diet on anti-inflammatory foods and avoiding foods that are known to cause inflammation is a great place to start.  If you regularly consume inflammatory foods, immune responses will continue to occur. Other things you can do to combat inflammation is to exercise regularly, get adequate rest and to reduce your stress levels.


Inflammatory Foods


Inflammatory Foods

Known inflammatory foods include:

  • Rancid Oils  - hydrogenated oils (margarine, coffee creamers, shortenings, processed foods), trans fats, vegetable oils
    Vegetable oils are used in many processed foods and are known to cause an imbalance of the omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratio. This imbalance causes an immune response and increased inflammation in the body. Trans fats have been shown to “promote inflammation and damage the endothelial cells that line your arteries” [2]

  • Processed Meats/Excessive Red Meat Consumption deli meats, hot dogs, sausages, bacons, cured or salted meats
    Processed meats
    contain preservatives and additives that have a negative effect on the liver and gastrointestinal tract. “They also contain more advanced glycation end products (AGEs) than most other meats. AGEs are formed by cooking meats and other foods at high temperatures. They are known to cause inflammatory changes that can lead to disease.” [3]

  • Refined Sugar - added sugars, 'ose' (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose), white sugar, corn syrup
    Refined sugar is associated with inflammation while “natural sugar, which is found in whole foods, is not.” [4] Fruit provides that sweet flavour we all love while also providing a variety of nutrients and fibre. A diet high in added refined sugars increases the inflammatory response. It may also counteract the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Refined Carbohydrates - white flour, white bread, pastries, wraps, chips, crackers, soda, candy, condiments, (ketchup, bbq sauces, stir-fry sauces, salad dressings)
    Refined carbs
    provide the body with little to no fibre and nutrients. They cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash. When hypoglycaemia occurs (low blood sugar) so does an increased desire for additional refined carbohydrate rich foods. The rise and crash of blood sugar levels turns into a vicious cycle. The lack of nutrients and antioxidants also causes an increased risk of inflammation. Refined foods high on the glycemic index fuel the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that stimulate inflammation

  • Alcohol
    Alcohol dependency can cause stress to both the gastrointestinal tract and the liver. “Alcohol-induced intestinal inflammation may be at the root of multiple organ dysfunctions and chronic disorders associated with alcohol consumption, including chronic liver disease, neurological disease, GI cancers, and inflammatory bowel syndrome.” [5]

  • Additives  - artificial colours, flavours, preservatives
    It is believed that additives may cause low-grade inflammation in the body. “Certain food additives may interfere with your gut bacteria, causing changes that boost inflammation in the intestines and potentially promote the development of some chronic diseases”. [6]

  • Dairy Products
    It is believed that 65% of the worlds population is unable to properly digest dairy products due to a lack of production of the enzyme lactase. Symptoms of lactose intolerance may occur instantaneously or have a delayed reaction. Many people experience nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Regularly consuming dairy despite an intolerance may also lead to acne, eczema, an increase in mucous (which can also worsen asthma symptoms), headaches, fatigue, and joint pain. The inability to properly digest dairy causes gastrointestinal issues and increases the inflammatory response in the body.

  • Wheat
    Wheat has been a staple in our diet for over 12,000 years. It is mass produced and used as a cheap filler in most processed foods. Too much of anything may cause a reaction. “New research reveals that a family of proteins in wheat may be responsible for activating inflammation in chronic health conditions such as multiple sclerosis, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Scientists discovered that the proteins might also contribute to the development of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.” [7]


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Sources:

[1] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php
[2] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-foods-that-cause-inflammation#section3
[3] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-foods-that-cause-inflammation#section6
[4] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sugar-and-inflammation#section4
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5513683/
[6] https://www.livescience.com/54839-food-additives-gut-bacteria.html
[7] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313514.php