Inflammation is when the body’s white blood cells protect the body from outside intruders, such as viruses and bacteria. In other words, it’s your body’s way of healing cell damage.
Inflammation can be good or bad depending on the circumstance present. On the one hand, it’s the body’s way of healing cell damage. On the other hand, sustained chronic inflammation can be dangerous and lead to health conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and stroke.
Interestingly, your diet significantly affects inflammation in the body.
If you want to fight inflammation, start by checking your diet. Then choose your foods to add more anti-inflammatory foods like vegetables, nuts, fruits, seeds, beans, fatty fish, and less inflammatory foods.
To help navigate your diet, below are foods to avoid as they cause inflammation:
Foods that Cause Inflammation
Statistics show that an average American takes around 17 teaspoons of added sugars every day. However, the recommended intake is about six teaspoons or less every day.
Sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Eating large amounts of fructose has been linked to diabetes, cancer, chronic kidney disease, obesity, and insulin resistance. Fructose also causes inflammation within endothelial cells that line blood cells, a risk factor for heart disease.
It’s challenging to avoid added sugars as manufacturers add more sugar to improve the flavor of packaged goods. Research has shown that taking too much added sugar leads to chronic inflammation.
Add sugars, including cookies, candies, crackers, bread, salad dressings, yogurts, and granola bars.
The body is not designed to process large amounts of added sugar. When you digest processed foods, sugar enters the blood. Insulin takes the sugars into the cells to give them energy, but when in excess, insulin stores it in fat cells, causing them to get bigger. Over time, studies show this can result in insulin resistance or weight gain.
To reduce your intake of added sugars, pay attention to food labels to make sure sugars are not among the ingredients. Look for foods with less than 4 grams of added sugars.
Remember, there is a difference between natural sugars and added sugars. Natural sugars are present in foods like fruits, while added sugars are extra, enhancing food flavor.
Trans Fats Can Cause Inflammation
Trans fat is a dietary fat type. They are made when liquid oil is turned into solid fats, like margarine or shortening.
Trans fats lower HDL (good) cholesterol, responsible for cholesterol absorption. These fats also impair endothelial cell lining, a risk factor for heart disease.
Trans fats are linked to increased levels of inflammatory markers, like C-reactive protein (CRP).
In fact, in one study, women with high trans fats intake reported a 78% increase in CRP levels.
In another randomized trial, including obese women, hydrogenated soybean oil elevated inflammation more than sunflower and palm oils.
Examples of food rich in trans fats include french fries, shortening, margarine, packaged cookies, and cakes.
One way to limit your intake of trans fats is by looking at food’s ingredients. If you see partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils in the list, the food has trans fat.
Refined carbs are simple carbohydrates that have had most fiber and nutrients removed. Fiber makes you full, feeds the good bacteria in your gut, and improves blood sugar control.
Research suggests that refined carbs encourage the growth of inflammatory gut bacteria, which increases the risk of inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.
Refined carbs are similar to added sugars; they quickly enter the bloodstream and spike your blood sugar. Increased blood sugar levels trigger an inflammatory response. The body tries to remove the excess sugar by stimulating inflammation.
Studies show a higher glycemic index (GI) in refined carbs than unprocessed foods. High GI elevates your blood sugar levels more than low GI foods.
In a controlled study, older adults who had the highest intake of GI foods were more likely to die of an inflammatory disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
In another randomized study, young, healthy men who took more than 50 grams of refined carbs experienced increased blood sugar levels and inflammatory disease markers.
Refined carbs are found in bread, pasta, candy, pastries, cakes, cookies, sugary soft drinks, and all processed foods with added sugars.
Red And Processed Meat
Processed meat has been cured, fermented, salted, or smoked for preservation purposes. Research suggests that both red and processed meats have high saturated fat that causes inflammation.
Taking red and processed meat is also linked to increased diabetes, heart disease, colon and stomach cancer risks.
Processed meat contains more advanced glycation end products (AGEs) than other meats. GE’s are formed when cooking meat at high temperatures. They also cause inflammation.
Colon cancer is the most prevalent of all diseases caused by eating red and processed meat. Research shows a strong association that inflammatory response may partly cause colon cancer. Processed meat includes bacon, pepperoni, sausage, hot dogs, smoked meat, and beef jerky.
Excessive Alcohol Can Also Cause Inflammation
Optimal alcohol intake may provide some health benefits. However, a high intake of alcohol can lead to severe problems.
High alcohol intake causes irritation and inflammation of the esophagus, voice box (larynx), and liver. With time, severe inflammation promotes tumor growth and cancer in areas of repeated irritation.
In one study, people who consumed more alcohol experienced increased levels of inflammatory marker CRP.
Heavy drinkers may also develop problems with toxins bacteria entering the body from the colon. This condition is called leaky gut. It stimulates inflammation throughout the body, causing organ damage.
Foods that Cause Inflammation – The Bottom Line
There are many causes of inflammation, some of which are hard to avoid, including sickness, injury, or pollution. T stay healthy, minimize the intake of inflammatory foods and increase the intake of anti-inflammatory foods.
Try to feel your diet with fruits and vegetables and avoid foods with saturated fat and added sugars. These simple lifestyle changes significantly impact over time if you maintain consistency.