There are many factors that contribute to inflammation in the body, but diet is one of the most important. Certain foods can cause inflammation, while others can help to reduce it. Here are some of the most inflammatory foods that you should avoid if you want to keep inflammation under control.
1. Refined sugar: Sugar causes inflammation by raising your blood sugar levels and promoting the release of inflammatory cytokines. It also promotes the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut, which can lead to chronic inflammation.
2. Processed meats: Meats that have been processed (such as hot dogs, bacon, and sausage) contain high levels of saturated fat and sodium, both of which can promote inflammation. These meats also contain nitrates, which have been linked to an increased risk for cancer.
3. Trans fats: Trans fats are created when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oils in order to make them solid at room temperature (think margarine or shortening). Trans fats promote inflammation by increasing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and decreasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. They also contribute to insulin resistance, which is a major factor in type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Common Cooking Oils
There are a lot of different cooking oils out there, and it can be hard to know which ones are the best for your health. Some oils are better for high heat cooking, while others have health benefits that make them worth using in lower temperature recipes. Here is a list of the eight most inflammatory oils, based on their effect on your body:
Canola oil: This oil is extracted from rapeseed, and it contains a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, meaning that they can contribute to conditions like arthritis and asthma. Canola oil is often used in processed foods because it’s cheap and has a neutral flavor.
Corn oil: Like canola oil, corn oil contains a lot of omega-6 fatty acids. It’s also often used in processed foods because it’s relatively inexpensive and has a neutral flavor.
Vegetable oils: These oils (such as soybean oil, cottonseed oil, and sunflower oil) are also high in omega-6s. They’re commonly used in processed foods and deep frying because they have a high smoke point (the temperature at which the oil starts to break down).
Partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oils: These oils have been treated with chemicals to make them solid at room temperature. They’re often found in processed baked goods like cookies and crackers. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are even more inflammatory than regular vegetable oils because they contain trans fats – another type of fat that’s bad for your health.
Most people consume trans fats through processed foods like crackers, cookies, cakes, pastries, fried foods, and margarine. Many restaurants also use trans fat-laden oils to cook their food. Even if a product doesn’t list “trans fats” on the label, it may still contain them if it contains partially hydrogenated oils.
The good news is that you can avoid trans fats by reading labels carefully and avoiding processed foods as much as possible. When cooking at home, use healthy oils like olive oil or avocado oil instead of margarine or shortening. And when dining out, ask your server whether the restaurant uses any trans fat-containing oils in their cooking.”
Milk, cheese, and yogurt are the most common dairy products that cause reactions. But ice cream, butter, and cream can also be problematic for some people. Dairy allergies are different from lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is when your body can’t digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Dairy allergies involve the immune system.
Most people who are allergic to one type of dairy product will react to all of them. So if you’re allergic to cow’s milk, you’ll probably also be allergic to goat’s milk or sheep’s milk. The symptoms of a dairy allergy can range from mild to severe and may include: hives; wheezing; coughing; trouble breathing; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; stomach cramps; itching or swelling in the mouth or throat; eczema flare-ups; and anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction).
If you have a severe allergy to dairy, even trace amounts of it can trigger a reaction. That means you need to avoid all foods that contain even small amounts of milk proteins. Some processed foods may contain hidden sources of diary proteins, so always read labels carefully before eating anything prepared outside your home.”
The vast majority of the meat that is consumed in the United States comes from animals that are raised in feedlots. These feedlots are large, crowded facilities where cows, pigs, and chickens are confined and fattened up for human consumption. The conditions in these feedlots are often deplorable, and the animals are routinely given antibiotics and other drugs just to keep them alive.
The widespread use of antibiotics in feedlots has contributed to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These so-called “superbugs” can cause serious illness or even death in humans who consume contaminated meat. In addition, the crowded conditions in feedlots provide an ideal environment for disease to spread quickly among the animals.
As a result of these conditions, meat from feedlot-raised animals is often tainted with harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella. These bacteria can cause food poisoning in humans who eat contaminated meat. In severe cases, food poisoning can lead to serious illness or even death.
In addition to being a source of harmful bacteria, feedlot-raised meat is also high in fat and cholesterol. This type of meat has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and other health problems.
Red Meat & Processed Meat
Red meat and processed meats are some of the most inflammatory foods you can eat. They contain high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, which can contribute to heart disease and other chronic health conditions. Eating too much red meat can also increase your risk of cancer.
Processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, and deli meats, are especially harmful because they contain high levels of sodium and other chemicals that can promote inflammation. If you regularly eat red meat or processed meats, it’s important to take steps to reduce your intake. Choose leaner cuts of meat and cook them in healthy ways (such as grilling or baking) instead of frying. And limit your consumption of processed meats by avoiding them altogether or eating them only occasionally.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the foods that you are consuming that may be contributing to chronic inflammation. If you are concerned about your risk for chronic inflammation, talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian about whether eliminating or reducing your consumption of these eight inflammatory foods may be right for you.
What’s more, refined grains are often enriched with synthetic nutrients that don’t offer the same health benefits as their natural counterparts. For example, white flour is typically enriched with synthetic B vitamins and iron, but these nutrients are not as easily absorbed by the body as those found in whole wheat flour.
The high glycemic index of refined grains can also contribute to inflammation. When you eat foods that cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels (such as white bread or pasta), your body releases insulin to bring those levels back down again. Over time, this roller coaster ride of blood sugar highs and lows can lead to insulin resistance – a major contributor to chronic inflammation.
So if you’re looking to reduce your risk of inflammation-related diseases such as heart disease or arthritis, ditching refined grains in favor of their unprocessed counterparts is a good place to start. That means swapping out white bread for 100% whole wheat bread, white rice for brown rice or quinoa, and so on. Your taste buds – and your body – will thank you!