9 Inflammatory Foods To STOP Eating And 9 Foods To REVERSE The Damage
Written by: Emilyn Gil
What Foods To Eat And Not Eat To Keep Inflammation In Check
A List Of Unpleasant Symptoms:
- Weight gain
- Red or itchy skin
Raise of hands if you would rather not experience any of the above symptoms.
Well! It’s unanimous! What a surprise.
Astonishingly, the entire list of symptoms can all be caused by the same thing.
Inflammation is an immune system process that protects and heals your body from injury and infection. It’s like a home security system. If something enters that your body recognizes as harmful, your white blood cells release chemicals to fight the foreigner, or recover from the injury and infection.
Although inflammation is a positive and necessary process, that doesn’t make it a pleasant experience. When it comes right down to it, no inflammation equals no problems. Just like no triggered alarms equals no intruders.
In fact, high levels of inflammation or frequent inflammation can lead to more serious symptoms and even disease.
A List Of Unpleasant Diseases:
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Heart Disease
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
In short, the less inflammation you experience, the better off you’ll be.
Keeping Inflammation Out Of The Picture
There are many things that can cause inflammation and a lesser known trigger is actually the food you eat.
THAT’S RIGHT! If you experience inflammation after eating a certain food, that means your body has recognized it as something harmful to you. And if your body is attacking your lunch like it’s a dangerous intruder, it’s safe to say that you should probably not eat it again.
Avoiding the following foods can lessen your chances of inflammation, horrible symptoms and less than desirable diseases.
Although I’m sure you saw it coming, it doesn’t make it any less difficult to avoid. Keeping the brownies and ice cream out of the diet is a no-brainer when trying to keep away from sugar, but even things like ketchup and peanut butter can have sugar too! So be very meticulous when checking labels. Putting too much glucose in your body can increase inflammation, weaken your immune system and cause your blood sugar to spike and crash.
What To Avoid: Soda, candy, baked sweets, coffee, cookies, fruit drinks
What To Substitute: Natural sugars found in fresh organic fruits, stevia, honey, blackstrap molasses
2. Fried Foods
I’m guessing fried foods were also already on your Do Not Eat List for healthier dieting. Fried foods have high levels of inflammatory advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and studies have shown that cutting AGE’s out of the diet can reduce chances of inflammation.
What To Avoid: French fries, fish sticks, onion rings, fried chicken, chicken tenders
What To Substitute: Oven baked fries, grilled chicken, oven baked fish
3. Refined Flour
You may need to meticulously check labels for this food as well, because flour can be a real trickster. Refined grains lack fiber and vitamin B and the heightened glycemic index can have a similar effect on the body as sugar does. Refined flour can additionally cause your body to build a dangerous resistance to insulin.
What To Avoid: Rice, bread, flour, chips, crackers, pasta, cereal
What To Substitute: Whole grains, whole-wheat bran flakes, whole wheat tortillas, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, barley
4. Processed And Red Meat
Red and processed meats are generally high in saturated fats and AGEs (mentioned earlier), causing inflammatory reactions. Processed meats can also contain preservatives and artificial flavorings that your body generally flags as foreign. I mean honestly, does anyone even know what is actually in a hot dog?
What To Avoid: Sausage, hot dogs, bologna, lamb, pork, beef, jerky, bacon
What To Substitute: Lean organic cuts of red meat (in moderation), fish, poultry
5. Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil and other common cooking oils are high in omega 6 (an inflammatory fat) and low in omega 3 (an anti-inflammatory fat). And since the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats in your body should be 1:1, it’s best to avoid these types of foods that throw the ratio off balance.
What To Avoid: Cooking oil, salad dressings, crackers, bread, chips, mayonnaise
What To Substitute: Extra virgin olive oil, macadamia oil
6. Conventional Grain-Fed Meats
Animals raised by commercial suppliers generally have diets full of corn and soy, which are also high in omega-6 and low in omega-3. Due to the animal’s poor diet, the suppliers are required to give them a large dose of antibiotics. Not to mention the artificial supplements make them (and you!) gain weight faster.
What To Avoid: Grain fed beef, pork and chicken
What To Substitute: Free range animal meats fed organic food, lean cuts of grass-fed beef, meat cooked with lemon which can act as an antioxidant against harmful carcinogens produced during grilling
Fun fact: being able to digest milk after infancy is actually abnormal and 1 out of 4 adults have real difficulty digesting it. Dairy is also guilty of decreasing the amount of good bacteria in the gut. Leave the milk to the baby calves, my friend!
What To Avoid: Milk, yogurt, cheese, butter
What To Substitute: Kefir and unsweetened yogurt, rice milk, coconut milk, almond milk, coconut oil.
Not to mention getting you in trouble with the law, alcohol can cause inflammation and even tumor growth. The most common areas for inflammation due to alcohol are in the liver and esophagus. Additionally, during the process of breaking down alcohol, your body creates toxic by-products that can weaken the immune system and damage liver cells.
What To Avoid: Wine, beer, liquor
What To Substitute: Water, natural juices, ginger, jasmine green tea
9. Trans Fats
Trans fats are the result of a man-invented hydrogenation process. Because this process is unnatural, your body really doesn’t have the right mechanisms to break down trans fats. And since your body isn’t used to this abnormal substance, you get an intruder alert and inflammation as a result.
What To Avoid: Shortening, margarine, fast foods, processed foods, frosting
What To Substitute: Foods with 0 trans fats. Keep in mind that U.S. law states that if a food has .5 grams or less, they can still put 0 trans fats on the label. It is best to make sure that the food or product doesn’t have hydrogenated oil or vegetable shortening.
9 Inflammation Reducing Foods
I know what you may be thinking. But after I take all of that out of my diet, is there even anything left to eat that I don’t have to grow or raise in my own backyard?
Actually, the good news is that you don’t have to completely abstain from the above listed substances. The key is to consume everything in moderation.
The occasional sugary cereal breakfast, burger and fries, or yogurt parfait won’t have a significant effect on your body or immune system. It’s most important to be aware of how your body is reacting to the foods you give it and keep the inflammatory products to a minimum.
Another helpful way to keep the inflammation in check is to try these 9 anti-inflammatory foods!
- Ginger. The compound gingerols in ginger is really what does the trick. Gingerols can inhibit enzymes and genes that promote inflammation. Ginger can be taken in many different ways, but one way is to grate fresh ginger and steep it in hot water to make ginger tea.
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are great sources of omega 3 fats, which you could definitely use more of to balance those omega 6 fats and stabilize that ratio. Best if eaten a few times a week.
- Beets contain betalain pigments which have both antioxidants and inflammation reducing properties. Beets can also reduce and prevent pain and swelling. Commonly grated into stews and salads.
- Dark leafy greens such as broccoli, collards and kale have lots of vitamin K, which helps reduce inflammatory responses in the body.
- Holy basil, which is most commonly found in Asian markets, has great inflammation reducing properties.
- Walnuts are another good source of omega 3 fats and can also help protect cells from oxidative damage caused by inflammation. The recommended dosage is about an ounce of walnuts per day.
- Extra virgin olive oil. Aside from having inflammation reducing properties, olive oil can help with weight loss and lowering cholesterol levels.
- Turmeric has a wonderful habit of prohibiting the growth of inflammatory enzymes. It can also help relieve joint pain. Even just an added pinch of turmeric on the plate can provide you this great benefit.
- Peppers are not only inflammation reducing, but they can also help reduce the risk of a few diseases mentioned earlier such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. However, peppers are also known in some people to have the opposite effect, so really pay attention to your body after consuming to see if peppers are for you.
Just like it’s important to change your fire alarm batteries often, it’s important to keep your immune system strong and happy and pay attention to the signals when your body puts up the red flags of inflammation.
The system is there to protect you, so make sure to take care of it by moderating your consumption of these 9 inflammatory foods and replacing them with the inflammation reducing foods!
Disclaimer: The techniques, strategies, and suggestions expressed here are intended to be used for educational purposes only. The author, Drew Canole, and the associated www.fitlife.tv are not rendering medical advice, nor to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, condition, illness, or injury. It is imperative that before beginning any nutrition or exercise program you receive full medical clearance from a licensed physician. Drew Canole and Fitlife.tv claim no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented here.
Emilyn Gil is a 22 year old English Major at UVU. She started writing at age 6, and since then has won several awards including the Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key and was featured in the Kolob Canyon Review in Cedar City. Aside from the written word, her other passions include performing in the occasional musical theater production, and playing piano, guitar, and ukulele. Some of her favorite pastimes are baking, napping, and spending time with family. She likes monkeys, homemade rolls, and the color yellow. She has traveled to Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico, and Canada, and currently resides in Orem, Utah with her husband Jorge. You can find more of her work online at emilyaddn.blogspot.com or on Instagram at @emilyncan.
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