There has never been so much research into the foods we eat. We got good in labeling foods high in Omega-3 fats or low in the saturated kind, I am amazed by all the research out there. And it’s a step in the positive direction. Yet one property of food that has been lacking in terms of visibility is how certain foods will trigger inflammation in our body.
What is inflammation?
Let’s start with a definition: Inflammation, according to Wikipedia, is defined as the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. Inflammation is therefore what’s expected from our bodies when it senses that something it does not particularly like is being consumed. If our bodies did not inflame, our wounds and infections would never heal. The problem is that we don’t always have to be in this condition; it should be a last resort when things go wrong. So don’t blame the inflammation – blame the foods that may trigger it.
Why worry about inflammation?
Make no mistake about it – inflammation within us will affect everything from how well we sleep to how vibrant we feel. And if we take a sneak peak at a body that is inflamed, inflammation quietly promotes a breeding ground for some serious stuff, like cancers, arthritis, among many others. Inflammation is present when the body wants to heal tissue. A semi-permanent inflammatory state constantly destroys and heals cells, causing havoc to our bodies.
How do our bodies become inflamed?
We tend to think of irritants as the can of paint thinner but we tend to forget that an irritant to our body could be in the nutrition we eat.
Our bodies are different, and as such, what affects some won’t affect others in quite the same way. However, as research is evolving in this area, certain foods have been identified as more prone to cause inflammation than others.
I’ve decided to list the common things we eat here. Now, I want to stress that it’s not about avoiding these foods completely, because doing this is probably going to make you unhappy, which opens up another can of worms. Why not consider these below as a treat, to indulge only when you’ve accomplished something big!
I can’t stress how important this one is. Sugar and refined carbs are a definite cause of inflammation. Stay away from high fructose corn syrup, and foods with refined carbs. Anything with a wrapper and nice logo on it is probably going to inflame your body if consumed often. Treat it as a desert or reward if you really want to eat it. But this definitely shouldn’t be a main staple in your nutrition. Look at that nutritional information tab in your foods and remember that 1 teaspoon of sugar equals 4 g of sugar. And considering that one can of pop may have up to 40g of sugar, you do the math….
Certain vegetable oils, such as soy, sunflower, corn, and cottonseed have high amounts of Omega-6 fat, known as an inflammatory agent. Replace these oils with those higher in omega-3 fats, such as extra-virgin olive oils. The typical American diet is unbalanced interns of the ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 fat intake. Omega-6 fats causes your arteries to become inflamed, your immune system to break down, putting you prone to infections and cancer.
Dairy causes inflammation due to the presence of lactose, a sugar not digestible by a large percentage of the population. As much as 65% of the population has some sort of lactose intolerance. In addition to those that do not digest lactose, proteins such as casein and whey are known to cause inflammation.
We also have to ask ourselves if it’s natural to be the only species to consume milk from another species 🙂
Moderation is the key here. A glass or two of wine with your meal might actually help in reducing inflammation ironically. However, anything more than that has the opposite effect. Heavy doses of alcohol does all kinds of nasty things to your body, such as causing gout, which is the inflammation of joints due to buildup of uric acid crystals, or psoriasis, which is an inflammatory skin condition.
Remember, Drink responsibly!
The Lifecheer takeaway: when you are at grocery store, pay special attention to what you are buying. Choose natural as much as possible. There is nothing wrong with indulging yourself once in a while. Be mindful of the common inflammation-causing foods listed here – shop wisely!