By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Inflammation seems to be a buzzword lately. Everyone (including us) is sharing anti-inflammatory recipes, nutrients to consume to fight inflammation and now we’re sharing what foods to avoid in order to prevent it. Before we tackle those, let’s take a closer look at what inflammation really is and the different types.
Acute inflammation is normally self-limiting and resolves naturally. It has an important role in healing and repairing tissue, while low grade inflammation from chronic stressors such as diet, infections, lifestyle and other factors causes a multitude of health issues. Low grade inflammation has emerged as the underlying cause of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disease, Alzheimer’s disease, pain and discomfort, premature aging and it is also correlated to poor mood, depression and declining memory.
Causes of chronic inflammation vary between people but overall there are known causes such as being overweight, smoking, being too sedentary, stress, pollution, lack of sleep, and the types of food we eat.
It’s so important to include foods that contain naturally occurring nutrients that reduce inflammation (like these 8 nutrients), but it is also important to work on reducing and avoiding foods, beverages and lifestyle factors that encourage and cause inflammation in the body.
To maintain excellent health and wellness, it is important to work towards eating a plant-rich high-antioxidant diet and reduce the disease causing empty calories. Sure its fine to consume fun food occasionally but it’s all about balance and making sure you are not going to the ‘fun part of town’ too frequently.
Tops foods that cause inflammation in the body:
I’m talking about added sugar in foods and recipes. Added sugar stimulates the release of inflammatory cytokines and fuels the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) products that stimulate inflammation. It’s important to identify what sugar looks like on an ingredient list. Often listed as sucrose, fructose, dextrose, malt, beet sugar, cane juice, dextrin, corn syrup and maltodextrin. Learn why not all sugar is created equal.
White refined flour has a fast and negative effect on blood sugar and is known for its pro-inflammatory effects. Foods with a high glycemic index (GI), were found to be associated with higher levels of CRP in the Harvard Women´s Health Study. The relationship between GI and inflammation has been confirmed in other studies. It’s important to be aware that many wholegrain products still contain a large content of refined grains to make the product tastier.
Too many omega 6 oils can increase inflammation particularly if the diet is low in omega 3 fatty acids. It’s all about balance! Omega 6 oils can be found in corn, soya, sunflower, safflower and cottonseed oil. The basic western diet consumes way too many omega 6 fatty acids combined with a lack of omega 3 fatty acids thus promoting inflammation.
These are found in fast food and other fried and baked foods such as pastries, biscuits, donuts, snack foods, crackers, crisps and some margarines. These are listed as vegetable fat, hydrogenated fats and partially hydrogenated oils. Studies demonstrate that the consumption of trans-fats is associated with higher levels of inflammatory blood biomarkers. If you’re craving a donut, try making our No-Bake Cinnamon Donut Holes instead.
MSG has been reported to increase the development of significant inflammation, central obesity, and type 2 diabetes. It has also been shown to promote liver inflammation and NASH (Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis). Our liver is our most important metabolic organ so an unhealthy liver in itself is correlated to systemic inflammation in the body.
This includes all unnatural products that are added to our food to increase the shelf life, reduce the cost and change and alter the flavour. Chemicals and unnatural products in our food will contribute to inflammation as it is not recognizable and the immune system will create a response. Examples include artificial sweeteners, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours.
A few drinks has been shown to be supportive for good health, at around 1-7 standard drinks a week but more than 7 has been shown to increase inflammatory markers.
From conventional farms, fed GM food, given antibiotics and living in poor conditions has been correlated to increased inflammation in the body. They are fed high amounts of omega 6 fats in the feed which also alters the fat content and the rancidity of the tissue. When eating animal products it’s better to go for the more natural meats in moderate amounts such as wild game (more active animals) and consuming animals that are also eating a more natural diet such as 100% pasture fed and organic where possible.
It’s also important to mention food intolerances and food allergies, as one man’s food can be another man’s poison. Milk for example may be okay for some in smaller quantities while for another it may cause stomach issues and IBS thus creating a mild immunological response that creates chronic low-grade inflammation as seen in skin disorders such as eczema, asthma and other allergy type health concerns.
Here at Reboot we have put together many amazing articles containing important information on the benefits of plant-based compounds and foods that support and reduce systemic inflammation.
Here are a few fabulous and important anti-inflammatory articles: