Inflammation in the body is a normal response to fighting disease, damage and infection. Inflammation can become quite extreme and prolonged when not addressed, impacting daily life and leading to a host of compounding conditions as it becomes chronic. You can think of this chronic inflammation as a car alarm for the body. Invaders get in and inflammation sounds an alarm, your immune system responds and will eventually disarm the alarm. The alarm could be set off by a variety of short-term environmental or physiological stimuli.
There is another more insidious stimuli that is constantly triggering your alarm on a daily basis: food. Recent research is pointing to what we eat and chances are you; on a daily basis are consuming inflammatory and potentially damaging foods. Lets take a look at some of the biggest offending foods.
Sugar: Excess sugar consumption leads to the increased release of cytokines which are pro-inflammatory messengers. Sugar will also damage the effectiveness of your immune system compounding inflammation and increasing the duration of the event. Added sugar can be avoided by eliminating or greatly reducing the consumption of soda, snack bars, candy, baked sweets, sugary drinks and sweetened coffee drinks to name a few.
Consider ditching the unhealthy condiments and swapping out for foods with a low glycemic load on the body. These include foods with whole grains, healthy fats, protein and fibers.
Vegetable Oils: Common oils have little to no benefit to the body or in the kitchen. Common oils like corn, sunflower, safflower or palm contain high levels of inflammation causing Omega-6 fats and greatly reduced levels of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fats. Offenders include mayonnaise, salad dressings, BBQ sauce, crackers, bread, potato chips and common cooking oils.
An easy fix is switching to coconut oil, it's balance of Omega's is far superior to standard kitchen oils, tastes great, and has a host of additional benefits as well.
Also consider dropping those condiments and unhealthy snack food as well.
Fried Foods: Vegetable-oil fried foods and some processed foods contain dangerous compounds formed from cooking in oil at high temperatures. These compounds called AGE's (advanced glycation end products) are a dangerous inflammatory in the body. Studies show simply eliminating these foods leads to greatly reduced levels of AGE's. AGE's are commonly found in fried foods like french fries, fried chicken, fish sticks, chicken tenders and onion rings.
Cook at low temps to avoid the formation of AGE's
Use alternative cooking methods like boiling, steaming or poaching.
Refined Flour: Refined flower after processing is void of the important slow-digesting fiber and nutrients. The quicker the body breaks down these foods the quicker blood sugar levels spike, spiking your insulin levels and insulin leads to a pro-inflammatory response in the body. The biggest culprits are likely part of your daily diet like pizza, white bread, crackers, pasta, pretzels, flour tortillas, breakfast cereals, muffins and worst of all; bagels.
Consider completely switching to a diet free from foods containing refined flour. Instead concentrate on blood sugar stabilizing foods like those packed with healthy energizing whole grains.
Dairy: First lets look at milk. Milk is nothing more than bovine growth formula. Bovine, not human. It's designed by nature to turn a 65 pound calf into a 700 pound revenue generating cow as quickly as possible. Dairy is an allergen to humans with as many as 1 in 4 people having some measurable level of difficulty in ingesting. Full-fat dairy products completely disrupt the gut biome destroying high levels of healthy gut bacteria, that good fauna in the gut are crucial components in anti-inflammatory responses in the body.
Worried about calcium? Forget-about-it. Studies now show no measured consolation between a decrease in bone fractures and dairy consumption. Your likely getting adequate calcium in your cruciferous and other leafy green vegetables, if your not then it's time to get on the growing kale craze.
Artificial Sweeteners: Here's what's in store for your body with artificial sweeteners. Risk of glucose intolerance, altered gut biome, increase in bad gut biome, decreased ability to metabolize glucose efficiently, increased release of inflammatory cytokines. You'll find heavy concentrations of artificial sweeteners in no-sugar-added products, no-calorie “Diet” soft drinks, processed snack foods, low-calorie packaged meals and in many nutritional supplements.
Swap it out for honey, monk fruit, raw sugar, and stevia extract for a sweeter result.
Artificial Additives: Like those commonly found in breakfast cereals, processed foods containing fruit, candy, ice cream. Artificial means it's not found in nature and thus your body lacks the ability to process, utilize and at time eliminate. Ingredients like artificial colors (made from petroleum oil), emulsifying agents commonly used to thicken processed packaged foods. Our bodies do not recognize these foreign synthetic substances and they set of a cascading chain of inflammatory events in the body.
Options? just stop eating packaged, processed foods. Your body only needs whole natural foods.
Saturated Fats: As the body ingests saturated fats like those found in burgers, pizza, candy, chips and fried foods they accumulate as stored energy unlike other fats which do not store as easily. As the fatty cells inflame they actually release pro-inflammatory agents promoting additional inflammation throughout the body.
As with artificial additives your body only needs whole natural foods, elimination is the easiest fix. Avoid fast food, junk food and concentrate on a healthy diet.
Traditional Grain-Fed Meats. Cattle, chicken, pigs, sheep, lamb and turkey or any animal for that matter DID NOT EVOLVE ON A GRAIN FED DIET SUPPLEMENTED WITH HORMONES, ANTIBIOTICS, ANTI-DEPRESSANTS, NOR DID THEY EVOLVE TO RESIDE IN A SMALL PEN. Apologizes for the all-caps, but really. It's clear that the meat we eat is not fully designed for consumption by humans. These conventional meats are loaded with trace amounts of substances dangerous, potentially lethal to humans. These meats have high levels of dangerous pro-inflammatory saturated fats, greater levels of inflammatory omega-6 from the genetically modified feed.
Short of switching to a meatless diet, consider cutting down your meat to 1-2 days a week. Look for grass-fed, free range and organic meats. A good place to look is your local butcher or farm. Remember the old saying "don't buy your meat where you get your bread and butter"
Processed Meats: Last but not least and likely a top inflammatory food. They are typically made from red meats high in saturated fats, contain high lavels of AGE's, injected with a multitude of preservatives, sweeteners, coloring's, and artificial flavorings that are pro-inflammatory in the body not to mention a multitude of other detrimental impacts on the body.
Consider there is no alternative. Just cut out the Bacon, hot dogs, bologna, sausage, jerky and other processed meats and concentrate on whole natural foods.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all inflammatory foods, but it is a great start to use as a guide in cleaning up your lifestyle. Simply being aware and informed on the inflammatory nature of many of the foods we eat puts you the smaller percentage of people consciously aware and present to that you are what you eat.
Andrew Schachter is the Director of eCommerce, Affiliate manager, SEO manager & eBay Channel manager at BodyHealth.
Andrew is an avid cyclist, 25 year veteran of eCommerce and is eager to share his knowledge and expertise in the areas of nutrition and biohacking.
Andrew is a graduate of the University of Central Florida (Go Knights!) and has a degree in communication with concentrations in digital media and marketing. Also a certified Life Coach, he brings decades of experience in health, wellness and nutrition to BodyHealth.
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