The Most Inflammatory Foods You Can Put in Your Body from The Most Inflammatory Foods You Can Put in Your Body
The Most Inflammatory Foods You Can Put in Your Body
Food can be a source of inflammation through allergens, bacteria or other toxins. The body can also see foods that "don't agree" with its biochemistry which causes your whole body to start attacking these "foreign invaders," thus causing more inflammation in the bloodstream, Sadie Wells, RD, LDN, CPT, says.
Similarly, she adds, eating unhealthy food is like having a chronic infection that triggers an immune response which then causes inflammation.
Generally speaking, a diet high in trans-fatty acids, saturated fats, sugar and refined carbohydrates contributes to chronic inflammation, Nicole Simonin, a health and fitness expert at Shape it Up, says.
Any food that your body is intolerant or allergic to can also be a significant source of inflammation; and low grade inflammation is a factor in most health issues.
Ask any nutritionists and the answer will be the same: Sugar is the worst offender. “Excess sugar intake raises our pro-inflammatory cytokine levels while suppressing our germ-killing white blood cells, weakening the immune system,” Wells says.
Even natural sugar (in excess)
Although less of a concern, too much sugar, even the natural sugar from fruit, could be too much (usually if combined with other sugar-laden foods) and can cause inflammation, Wells says. “Some research suggests avoiding nightshade vegetables—tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant—due to the compound called solanine, to help reduce arthritis symptoms,” she adds.
Trans fat which are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils or shortening are still top of the list for inflammatory disease such as diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and arthritis, Simonin says. “In our American diets, the main source of trans fats is in shortening.” Manufacturers typically use this in fast foods as well as fried foods, sweets and baked goods, she adds.
Omega-6 oils such as corn, safflower and sunflower are not bad if used in moderation, but a typical American diet ingests too much omega-6 oils which can cause inflammatory responses in the body, Simonin says.
Most meats/animals are fed an unnatural, grain-based diet which makes them gain weight faster and contain higher amounts of saturated fats and Omega-6's, Wells says. “Various processing technologies, cooking techniques, such as grilling, can further promote inflammation by increased hormone levels, antibiotic resistance, and other carcinogens (AGE's=advanced glycation end products),” she adds.
Highly processed oils
The worst types of oils are the highly processed oils such as hydrogenated and partial hydrogenated oils such as soybean, corn and canola oils, Simonin says. Because these oils have become processed by hydrogenation this oil can convert to trans fat.
Albeit from vegetables, vegetable oils are unnatural in large amounts and are processed/made by pressing, heating, and uses various industrial chemicals and highly toxic solvents, Wells says. “Additionally, vegetable oils are high in Omega-6 fatty acids and can cause inflammation when we consume too many of them.”
Anything with GMOs
Genetically modified organisms have a bad reputation. They allow farmers to produce more with fewer chemicals, which means lower prices, but not healthy ingredients. Studies are still investigating the long-term effects of GMO. Such foods have been on the market since the mid-1990’s. One study, however, showed inflammation levels that were 2.6 times higher in pigs fed genetically engineered foods.
Additives such as artificial colors, BHT and nitrates are among many that are a cause for concern, Simonin says. “Many of these additives have been banned in other countries, but the FDA continues to consider them ‘acceptable’ for U.S. consumption.”
Processed breads are stripped of their nutrients so aiming for whole grain breads with fiber will help decrease the inflammatory response, Simonin says.
Depending on the person, Simonin says, dairy could be a large contributor of inflammation. “But it depends on to what degree they react to dairy.” Furthermore, Wells adds, dairy can also be inflammatory due to high amounts of saturated fats and most commercially produced dairy products lack significant amounts of beneficial bacteria.
While some artificial sweeteners are derived from natural substances, they are still synthetically made sugars, Simonin says. “Our body does not know what to do with the chemicals.” The long-term health of using these substances is still undetermined as to whether they cause inflammation, illness or diseases, she adds. According to Wells, artificial sweeteners are known to disrupt the gut microbiome, causing a reduction in good gut bacteria, which in turn allows the bad gut bacteria to proliferate.
They are chemically enhanced. Soda is slowly killing you. The body is actually worse off after consuming soda because it is depleted of important macronutrients. A Harvard study found that people who drink even one can of soda a day significantly increase their risk of chronic heart disease (CHD). “Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with increased risk of CHD and some adverse changes in lipids, inflammatory factors, and leptin,” researchers found.
Research suggests that they promote an inflammatory microbiota, and may be the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity.
You would think yogurt would be healthy for you, but depending on the brand, you might be ingesting artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, dairy and fake fruit in that one little cup, Simonin says. Flavored yogurts are the ones with too much sugar and artificial ingredients.
Processed meats such as deli meats are your worst offenders, Simonin says. Look for non-processed meats with minimal ingredients and grass-fed beef. “If we eat healthier animals, we in turn may be able to decrease inflammation response.” Eating grass-fed beef also increases your omega-3 fats (as opposed to grain-fed cows), she adds. “Cattle were never meant to eat corn and soy which is what most grain-fed cattle are given.”
“Processed foods generally contain elevated levels of refined sugars and grains/flours, are high in trans fats from hydrogenated vegetable oils, contain artificial ingredients and emulsifiers, and lack fiber and other important nutrients that actually help to fight inflammation,” Wells says.
Refined flours lack fiber which contributes to slowing the digestion and absorption of glucose, Wells says. “A slower release of glucose into the bloodstream also reduces the release of insulin, a hormone associated with a pro-inflammatory response in the body.”
The culprits are the sugar and artificial sweeteners. This is not the best breakfast option. Cereals with marshmallows and chocolate puffs are obviously high in sugar, but just how much sugar may surprise you. The Environmental Working Group examined the sugar content of 84 cereals and found 54 of them contained more than 24 to 26 percent sugar by weight. Kellogg's Honey Smacks, at 55.6 percent sugar, was the worst.
Candy falls in what Wells calls the "chemical storms" category. Candy is not a staple food and should never be perceived as anything more than a treat. Even when consumed occasionally and in small portions, they can cause a lot of harm. The sugar, artificial additives, trans fats…nothing in these treats us healthy.