Sunday, March 24, 2013
Inflammation: 9 Foods to Avoid & 5 Foods to Include
When you first hear "inflammation" you may think of the body's reaction to injury or infection where the affected area becomes swollen and red to help heal the problem. This type of inflammation is a good thing, and a response we count on to stay healthy.
Chronic inflammation - when the body's immune response to potentially harmful things does not stop - can be very harmful and lead to very serious health concerns such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and Alzheimer's.* Obesity, environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and the food we eat all play a role in the inflammatory responses in our bodies.
9 Inflammation Causing Foods:
Trans Fats - look for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated ingredients in the label and eliminate these options completely from your diet as they cause inflammation.
Sugar "increases advanced glycation end-products, or AGEs, resulting in damaged, cross-linked proteins."* These AGE proteins contribute to inflammation and the development of age-related chronic illnesses.
Refined Grains - more commonly known as "white carbohydrates" such as white bread, sub rolls, pizza dough, and bagels. These cause dangerous amounts of inflammation while offering no nutritional value and are best if avoided.
Red and Processed Meats - processed meats contain high levels of sodium nitrates, among other inflammatory causing ingredients, and red meats contain high amounts of arachidonic acid that can cause inflammation.
Alcohol is immediately metabolized into sugar and causes inflammation.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids - the imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the body leads to inflammation. Most Americans consume more omega-6s (soy, corn, and cottonseed oils) in their diet than omega-3s and it is recommended to reduce the consumption of these ingredients and switch to olive oils, fatty fish, and walnuts.
Dairy Products, especially those high in saturated fat, cause an inflammatory response.
Artificial Additives such as MSG or monosodium glutamate should always be avoided. Not only does MSG, along with the following, cause inflammation, they are harmful to your health and should be unconditionally avoided: Aspratame, acesulfame-K, Sucralose, high fructose corn syrup, olestra, artificial colors, and artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, and EDTA.
Gluten - Aside from celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease itself, gluten causes inflammation in everyone whether they suffer from celiac disease or not. Limiting gluten intake is recommended to reduce the inflammatory response in the body.
5 Inflammation Fighting Foods:
Dark Leafy Greens - Kale, swiss chard, spinach, and collards all contain powerful antioxidants that help fight inflammation.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids - To counteract the possible imbalance of omega-6s and omega-3s, it is recommended to consume foods containing omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, trout, fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is rich in polyphenols which protect your body from inflammation, and the monounsaturated fats it contains are also converted into anti-inflammatory agents.
Antioxidant-Rich Foods - Eating a diet rich in color is extremely beneficial for many reasons. The more color, the better. Some fruits and veggies packed with phytochemicals are strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, squash, sweet potato, and turnip greens.*
Some Spices - Ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and turmeric all have anti-inflammatory properties and are great to include in anything from your meals to smoothies and shakes.
References and Resources:
Dulan, Mitzi. "Top 5 Foods to Fight Inflammation." U.S. News Health. 8 Nov 2012.
Klein, Sarah. "Inflammatory Foods: 9 of the Works Picks for Inflammation." The Huffington Post. 3 Mar 2013.
Daniluk, Julie. "When Food Causes You Pain." CNN. 20 July 2012.