Inflammation is a natural response that takes place in the body to protect us from infection or injury. But when the body is chronically inflamed, serious health issues can arise. Eating the right foods is key to managing your body’s inflammatory response and keeping yourself in good health — but so is staying away from the wrong ones.
Acute inflammation is the type that protects the body and induces healing. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is when the immune system is overloaded by too many unwanted substances over an extended period of time. Constant exposure to these substances puts your body in a prolonged state of defense which, eventually, can cause a range of health problems from asthma to heart disease to cancer. Even further, being chronically inflamed can cause weight gain and lead to obesity.
Certain types of foods can cause chronic inflammation, but eliminating them can help you keep your body in good shape. Read on for a list of foods that may cause inflammation, and as always, get your doctor’s OK before trying any new eating plan.
Refined Vegetable Oil
Not all oils are created equal. Vegetable oils like soybean oil and canola oil are speculated to cause chronic inflammation because of their high omega-6 fat content. Omega-6 fats, when eaten out of balance with omega-3 and omega-9 fats, cause damaging inflammation linked to heart disease, non-alcoholic liver disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and obesity.
Omega-6 fats from vegetable oils are often hidden in packaged foods. Check your labels for generic “vegetable oil”, canola oil, soybean oil, or any hydrogenated oils.
If you’re looking after your health, chances are you’ve heard about some of the benefits of a low-carb diet. Carbs aren’t inherently bad for you, but processed carbs like white bread and pasta can trigger inflammation.
Refined carbs tend to have had most of their fiber removed. Fiber is an important nutrient that slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and feeds the probiotic bacteria in the gut, which improves immunity. Without that fiber, processed carbs cause blood sugar to spike which increases inflammation. Some research suggests that eating processed carbs like white bread and cereal encourages the growth of inflammatory bacteria that can cause conditions like IBS and obesity.
Sugar is often one of the most talked-about culprits when it comes to sabotaging your health, and inflammation is no different. Foods high in refined sugars and ingredients like high fructose corn syrup can trigger disease-causing inflammation. Studies have shown that a diet high in refined sugar can increase inflammatory markers of obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, fatty liver disease, and more.
Small amounts of the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables won’t trigger inflammation, but steer clear of sugary food products like sodas and juices, cereals, candy, pastries, and more.
Consuming some alcohol in moderation is known for having health benefits, but consuming too much may have serious consequences. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to inflammation related to your gut and liver health, among others. Studies have shown that consuming too much alcohol increases inflammatory markers and could even cause a condition called “leaky gut” in which your gut lining leaks toxins from the colon into the bloodstream, causing a number of health issues.
To avoid inflammation due to alcohol consumption, reduce your intake to one drink per day for women, and two per day for men.