There's been a lot of talk in recent years about the health benefits of eating anti-inflammatory food such as blueberries, turmeric, salmon, and high phenol olive oil - just to name just a few. However, while some foods appear to be natural inflammation fighters, others seem to do the complete opposite. Food is medicine and fuel for the body. And just as using poor quality fuel can negatively impact your vehicle, your body is no different. So it’s important to be aware of which foods cause inflammation – some may seem obvious, while others you may find surprising. Here’s what to avoid:
Sugar is one of the leading causes of inflammation and causes the release of inflammatory proteins known as cytokines. While these proteins are important in fighting against inflammation, there are both pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines, and sugar releases the pro-inflammation variety. A 2016 study published in Cancer Research found that "dietary sugar intake has a significant impact on the development of breast cancer." The body's inflammatory response to sugar was one proposed mechanism to explain these findings.
2. Additives and Artificial Sweeteners
Our bodies have a hard time processing artificial ingredients well, so substances such as aspartame and mono-sodium glutamate may trigger an immune response. Aspartame is a neurotoxin that the body “attacks”, which leads to inflammation. You will often find that these artificial ingredients are hidden in processed foods and even spices. Aspartame, in particular, is commonly found in soft drinks, especially “diet” or “healthier” beverages. Bottom line, artificial sweeteners are just as harmful as sugar.
3. Processed Meats
A study published in the Critical Reviews In Food Science & Nutrition found that diets high in red and processed meats were linked to an elevated risk of colon cancer. While there were several reasons cited for this, one was a higher inflammatory response.
In addition to colon cancer, processed meats are also associated with an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stomach cancer, according to Healthline.
Research published in Alcohol and Alcoholism, a peer-reviewed medical journal, found that women who drank more than three glasses of alcohol per day had higher systematic markers for inflammation than those who drank only one glass a day.
What's more, chronic alcohol consumption is associated with many different kinds of cancers, including stomach, liver, colon, and breast cancer, according to Medical News Today.
Gluten sensitivities, which can cause inflammation, are becoming increasingly more common. Symptoms vary from person to person, but a new study links the protein found in wheat (amylase-trypsin inhibitors or ATIs) to inflammation even beyond the gut. The study suggests that ATIs can cause inflammation in the “lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen and brain” and can “worsen the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, asthma, lupus and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.”
Symptoms such as chronic fatigue, joint pain, digestive issues, and high blood pressure may be signs of inflammation. Listen to your body and take notice of how your body reacts to certain foods. Generally speaking, a well-balanced diet focusing on plant-based nutrition is always a good choice for reducing inflammation and living a healthy life. As always, when in doubt consult your physician to determine the best diet to help control the symptoms you are experiencing.
Don't forget high phenol olive oil like Olea True, helps reduce inflammation. Polyphenols are the antioxidants or health protective compounds in EVOO. Like other antioxidants, polyphenols help protect cells from oxidative stress that leads to premature aging and disease.