August 8, 2022

Foods and Inflammation

Inflammation and anti-inflammatory are two buzz words you’ve likely heard quite often lately. When you hear the word inflammation mentioned in the news or online, they aren’t typically referring to the beneficial, initial inflammation that helps heal injuries like ankle sprains. Rather, they’re talking about ongoing, systemic inflammation in the body, which serves no purpose and may be linked to a wide range of diseases and disorders. The most common factor among the primary causes of death is inflammation. Mechanistic studies have demonstrated how different dietary elements can modify important pathways that lead to inflammation. Behavioral studies have shown that stressful situations and depression can affect inflammation through the same mechanisms.

Fortunately, with some dietary tweaks, a lifestyle that promotes chronic inflammation can turn into one that minimizes it., all while including tasty, satisfying foods. The first step to turning your body into a well-tuned, inflammation-fighting machine is knowing which foods promote inflammation and then swapping them out for the better choices. And here’s an added bonus: If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, reducing your intake of inflammatory foods can help as most of them contribute to weight gain.

Foods that promote Inflammation include:

1) Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates
The majority of the study on the effects of consuming added sugars on health has concentrated on SSBs (sugar-sweetened beverages). Studies examining the effects of natural and added sugars ingested in forms other than SSBs have not reached the same conclusions, despite evidence linking SSB consumption to weight gain and diseases like gout, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes.

Researchers have looked into the link between sugars and inflammation in addition to specific medical disorders. The majority of this study has used human observational studies or animal models. According to observational research, consuming additional sugar—especially when it comes from SSBs—is linked to low-grade chronic inflammation. For instance, a 2014 observational study found that individuals who self-reported consuming 20 percent or more of their daily calories from SSBs had an elevated risk of having high blood levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein.

Cakes, cookies, bakery items, sugar, grains made with white flour including white bread, pasta, bagels, etc.

  • Too much sugar can alert the body to send out extra immunity messengers called cytokines, which create inflammation.
  • Think of refined carbohydrates as an indulgence and consume them in small amounts.

2) Fried Foods
French fries, tempura, doughnuts, etc.

  • Aim to indulge only occasionally and share with friends.

3) Animal Fats
Butter, full-fat dairy products, fatty cuts of beef, pork, etc.

  • A daily pat of butter or a serving of full-fat yogurt in a diet that contains primarily anti-inflammatory foods isnt problematic; however, the typical American diet is already inflammatory, so these habits contribute to even more inflammation.

4) Excessive Drinking
Stick to one drink a day if you’re a woman, and one to two drinks a day if you’re a man.

5) Trans Fats
Crackers, baked goods, crusts, frozen pizzas, stick margarines, etc.

  • Read ingredient labels and steer clear of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils.

6) Omega-6 Oils
Seeds and vegetable oils from corn, sunflower, safflower, soy and vegetables; mayonnaise; and many salad dressings.

  • While the body needs omega-6 fatty acids for health and development, it needs a healthy balance of omega-6s and omega-3s. Too much omega-6s trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals.
  • The current ratio in the U.S. diet is estimated to be 16:1 omega-6s to omega-3s, instead of the ideal 4-to-1 or lower ratio.
  • Cut back on processed and fast foods to reduce the ratio and choose olive, flaxseed and avocado oils over other vegetable oils.

Foods that fight Inflammation include:

1) Fruits
All of them (go for variety and choose rich colors as each color represents a different health-promoting phytonutrient)

  • Fruit contains potent antioxidants that mop up free radicals that damage your cells and cause inflammation.
    All fruits reduce TNF-alpha, a marker of inflammation.
  • Brightly colored fruits like berries and cherries contain anthocyanins, which are anti-inflammatory powerhouses.

2) Veggies
All of them (like fruits, consume a variety and choose those with deep colors)

  • Their phytochemicals are superstars and combat inflammation.
  • Kale, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables are rich in sulfur and go through two detox phases in the liver, forcing the body to create more enzymes that clean out the body and reduce the toxic, inflammation-producing load.
  • Stack sandwiches with spinach and tomatoes; use lettuce or kale for wraps and toss bell peppers and red onions in omelets.

3) Walnuts and Chia Seeds

  • Research has shown that nuts reduce markers of inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Walnuts are highest in anti-inflammatory omega-3s and their polyphenols also help to reduce inflammation
  • Chia seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3s in plant foods that fight inflammation.

4) Spices

  • Especially turmeric, ginger, garlic and cinnamon
  • Turmeric is a marigold root and its active ingredient, curcumin, has been found to be beneficial in fighting inflammation and helping to ease symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohns disease.
  • Ginger has been shown to reduce inflammation after exercise as well as decrease joint pain in chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.

5) Fatty Fish
Salmon, tuna, sardines, herring and white fish

  • Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with lower levels of inflammation. Your body cant make omega-3seicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)so its important to get them through your diet.
  • Eat at least one to two servings of fatty fish a week.

6) Tea

  • Tea contains polyphenolic compounds called catechins, which are ultra-strong antioxidants.
  • Aim for three to four cups a day for maximum benefits, as research suggests.

Following a healthy, Mediterranean, and anti-inflammatory diet seems to be related to a cross-sectionally decreased inflammatory status. Antioxidants, polyphenols, and other immune-stimulating substances that reduce inflammation in the body are abundant in anti-inflammatory diets.

Replace pro-inflammatory foods with whole grains, fruit, vegetables, yogurt, herbs and spices, and healthy fats instead of red meat, highly refined carbohydrates and added sugars, saturated and trans fats, and salt.

Despite the fact that anti-inflammatory diets successfully lower inflammation and ameliorate disease symptoms, they are not a cure for autoimmune and chronic disorders and should not be used in place of proper medical care.