We all know that a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise are crucial to maintain good health. But, what we don’t realize is the significant role that inflammation plays in our health. Inflammation is the body’s response to an irritant. This irritant might be a wound or infection or any foreign object that enters your body. Inflammation does not happen just outside the body, it can happen inside the body too. The good news is that it indicates to us that the body is operating to overcome the problem.
All inflammation is not bad. There are 2 types of inflammation – acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is when your body responds to an injury through redness, swelling, warmth, and pain. This kind of inflammation is good as it protects the body. Whereas, if an inflammation lingers for a longer time, the white blood cells in the body may start attacking healthy tissues and organs. Chronic inflammation is also linked to the development of severe diseases like cancer, arthritis, obesity, asthma, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
If you suspect you suffer from inflammation, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional. But in addition to it, diet and lifestyle changes can create a big impact on the severity of inflammation.
If you find yourself constantly battling inflammation, your diet may be to blame. Smart food choices are important for everyone, especially for those who suffer from inflammation. While some foods may help fight inflammation, studies have found that others can aggravate inflammation. The presence of a few compounds in certain foods can trigger the inflammatory markers in the as well as create other health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Foods That Can Cause Inflammation
Certain foods have been linked to high levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in your blood. Listed below is a list of foods that cause joint pain and inflammation. Try eliminating these foods from your diet or limit their consumption.
1. Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
Unfortunately, sugar is one of the worst foods that might increase muscle and joint inflammation. Processed sugars trigger the release of proteins called cytokines in the body, which causes inflammation. Can you believe that 50 grams of sugar causes a spike in inflammatory markers, just within 30 minutes of consumption and lasts for up to 2 hours?
Sugar is labeled in many names in food items, for example, fructose, glucose, sucrose, lactose, maltose, and others. Read your ingredient list carefully before purchasing.
2. Saturated Fat
Studies have proved that saturated fats trigger adipose, which causes inflammation in fat tissue. Pizza, cheese, high-fat dairy products, and red meat contain a high amount of saturated fat. These foods do not just contribute to the risk of developing inflammation, but they also increase your risk of heart disease.
3. Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates contain little to no nutritional value. Their high glycemic index fuels the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) products which trigger inflammation in the body. They also cause a spike in blood sugar levels. White bread, white rice, pasta, flour, and many kinds of cereal are considered refined carbohydrates.
4. Alcohol and tobacco
Moderate consumption of alcohol is okay. However, too much alcohol causes damage to the liver and leads to inflammation. Also, if you are under non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, alcohol can elevate your risk of liver problems. If you smoke, you’re at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. If you consume excess alcohol, you’re at risk of developing gout.
5. Fried and Processed Meat
Fried foods are overcooked and almost all of their nutrients get destroyed. Deep frying triggers the formation of carcinogens in food, the reason behind inflammation. Many foods that come fried also contain a number of heavily processed ingredients. Processed meats (in any form like grilled, broiled, or fried) contain more AGEs that cause inflammation.
6. Polyunsaturated Cooking Oils
Do you use corn, safflower, sunflower, and soy oils or products like salad dressing and mayonnaise made with these oils for cooking? Polyunsaturated cooking oils contain two types of essential fatty acids: omega-3s and omega-6s. But in these oils, Omega-6 is found in excess, which is healthy only in small doses. Excess consumption of omega-6s can trigger the body to produce inflammatory chemicals.
To maintain a balanced intake of Omega-3 and Omega-6, you can use olive oil, walnuts, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds in your diet along with these oils.
7. Carbonated Drinks
When it comes to inflammation, what you drink is as important as what you eat. Most sugary drinks like soda, fruit drinks, and apple juice contain fructose. A recent study proved that people who consumed fructose-filled beverages had higher inflammatory markers than those who preferred having non-sugary drinks.
8. Excess Salt and Preservatives
Conventionally, salt and other preservatives are used in food to promote longer shelf lives. However, excess consumption of salt can cause inflammation and exacerbate any existing inflammatory condition. High salt intake also causes swollen veins and arteries, which places uncomfortable pressure on the surrounding joints, leading to rheumatoid arthritis. Thus, limiting your sodium intake can help.
9. Ice Cream
Sorry, ice cream lovers, but dairy can cause various issues related to inflammation.
Saturated fat Added Sugar = Best pro-inflammation food. Full-fat ice cream is filled with artery-clogging saturated fat, which is one of the most inflammation-inducing nutrients.
10. Trans Fats
Trans fats can be found in most processed foods like frozen products, processed snacks, cookies, crackers, doughnuts, and other fried foods. These foods increase the markers of inflammation in the body. Furthermore, regular consumption of Trans fats can increase your ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease. Trans fats are mentioned as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils” on food labels.
Foods That Help Fight Inflammation
It’s clear that diet can play a major role in causing inflammation. Luckily, a variety of foods with powerful components may offer relief from inflammation while also promoting overall health. Including specific foods in the diet with anti-inflammatory properties can strengthen the bones, muscles, and joints.
Here’s our take on the list of food for knee strengthening, increasing mobility in the joints, and helping the body fight inflammation.
- Fatty Fish
- Citrus Fruits
- Garlic and Onions
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Nuts and Seeds
- Olive Oil
- Green Tea
In addition to diet, some lifestyle modifications can also help fight inflammation:
- Get good sleep
- Manage your stress
- Exercise regularly (at least 30 minutes a day)
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Drink more water
A Word From Diversion Edge
Preventing inflammation through a well-balanced diet is an important step you can take to protect your overall health. Cutting back on pro-inflammatory foods can make a big difference in your health. Foods that cause inflammation in one person may not have equal consequences for the other. Therefore, the foods listed above are just guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Pay attention to your own body’s response to foods, and adjust your diet accordingly.