There has been a lot of talk about the dangers of and damage caused in the body by inflammation. Here is a compilation of some of the top foods to avoid and also to eat to keep inflammation at bay.
Today we know that inflammation is at the root of many major diseases. Cancer is perpetuated by inflammation — tumors grow larger as the inflammatory process takes hold. Likewise, the swelling and pain of arthritis, fibromyalgia, even diabetes and obesity have been linked with chronic inflammation in the body. Anti-inflammatory diets are important, as a diet filled with foods that curb inflammation can alleviate symptoms and often reverse disease. Some anti-inflammatory foods include dark leafy greens, purple grapes, nuts, seeds and colorful veggies.
1. White flour baked goods
“White baked goods make the top of the list because white flour becomes white sugar right in your mouth,” says Julie Daniluk, RHN, author of “Meals that Heal Inflammation.” The starches break into sugars immediately; that’s why it raises your blood sugar so fast. When your blood sugar spikes, you end up with inflammation. What’s more, white flour carries a double whammy because of the gluten content. Many people have a difficult time digesting gluten and inflammation results. “Quite a lot of the population is walking around inflamed,” says Daniluk. To replace white flour goods, try brown rice, amaranth, quinoa and teff, a grain from Africa that’s gaining popularity in gluten-free circles.
2. French fries/potato chips
Are French fries evil? The problem is that frying foods in oil at extremely high temperatures, enough to put a crispy edge on a fry, creates a neurotoxin chemical called acrylamide, which causes terrible inflammation. The only way to resolve that problem is to bake at lower temperatures. Same for potato chips. To avoid, bake fries in the oven and look for baked chips that don’t contain oil. Organic baked corn chips are a great substitute if it’s a crunch you’re after.
3. Grilled sausages
The biggest problem with sausages, and you may as well include bacon here, is the nitrates they contain. We’ve heard of nitrates for years; it’s a cancer-causing chemical that causes inflammation. Worse, we cook animal fats at high temps on the griddle and those black marks that crop up from overcooking, called creosote, are carcinogenic as well. Vitamin C can protect you from nitrates, so if you do enjoy these foods occasionally, Daniluk says to eat an orange alongside them. Either avoid them, bake instead of fry or grill, and try switching to nitrate-free bacon.
The caramel coloring in brown cola contains a chemical that has been banned in other countries but not in America. It’s called 4-methylimidazole or 4-MI, is derived from ammonia and has been shown to cause cancer in lab animals. Daniluk thinks it should be avoided even though safety levels for humans have not been established. Plus, cola carries a double dose of inflammation as there are nine teaspoons of sugar in one regular 12-ounce can. Sugar spikes insulin and brings on chronic inflammation. “Anything that causes cancer is inflammatory, too, since cancer is the most inflammatory disease of all; anything that increases your risk of cancer sets you up for inflammation.”
5. Microwave popcorn
The artificial butter flavoring in most popcorn has been linked to serious inflammation. Daniluk says it’s hard on both the lungs and liver, and her concern is that if we know the fumes from the steaming bag contain a lung irritant, imagine what it does to your digestive system. It also contains fats from the highly processed partially hydrogenated oils being cooked at high temperature, and these transfats are also inflammatory. She suggests old-fashioned air popping.
If you’re not opposed to using a microwave, try putting 4 tablespoons of popcorn kernels in a brown paper lunch bag and fold the top over tightly. Microwave for two minutes or until popping slows. Sprinkle with Parmesan and rosemary.
6. Artificially dyed candy
Artificial dyes are made from petroleum and gasoline byproducts and may cause disruption within body chemistry and hormone function, which could lead to inflammation. Five food colorings remain in use in the United States — though with much controversy. Some researchers think they are responsible for everything from ADHD to migraines and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Naturally colored and flavored gummies, lollipops and gums are available at many grocery stores. Naturally dyed candies are made from beets and carrots. Look for candy labels that say “contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.”
And here is a list of the top foods to help alleviate inflammation:
TOP 10 ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS
1. Wild Alaskan Salmon: Salmon contains anti-inflammatory omega-3s (wild is better than farmed) and has been known to help numerous ailments. Try and incorporate oily fish into your diet twice weekly. If you don’t like fish, try a high quality fish supplement.
2. Kelp: High in fiber, this brown algae extract helps control liver and lung cancer, douses inflammation, and is anti-tumor and anti-oxidative. Kombu, wakame and arame are good sources.
3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: The secret to longevity in Mediterranean culture, this oil provides a healthy dose of fats that fights inflammation, can help lower risks of asthma and arthritis, as well as protect the heart and blood vessels.
4. Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale and cauliflower are all loaded with antioxidants. Naturally detoxifying, they can help rid the body of possible harmful compounds.
5. Blueberries: Blueberries not only reduce inflammation, but they can protect the brain from aging and prevent diseases, such as cancer and dementia. Aim for organic berries, as pesticides are hard to wash away due to their size.
6. Turmeric: This powerful Asian spice contains a natural anti-inflammatory compound, curcumin, which is often found in curry blends. It is said to have the same effect as over-the counter pain relievers (but without their side effects).
7. Ginger: Ginger contains a host of health benefits. Among them, it helps reduce inflammation and control blood sugar. Ginger tea is a great addition to any diet.
8. Garlic: Though a little more inconsistent (in terms of research), garlic can help reduce inflammation, regulate glucose and help your body fight infection.
9. Green Tea: Like produce, this tea contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids that may even help reduce the risks of certain cancers.
10. Sweet Potato: A great source of complex carbs, fiber, beta-carotene, manganese and vitamin B6 and C, these potatoes actually help heal inflammation in the body.
Anoher List of TOP 10 INFLAMMATORY FOODS
These foods have been linked to obesity, increased risks of numerous diseases and even death in some cases.
1. Sugar: Sugar is everywhere. Try and limit processed foods, desserts and snacks with excess sugar. Opt for fruit instead.
2. Common Cooking Oils: Safflower, soy, sunflower, corn, and cottonseed. These oils promote inflammation and are made with cheaper ingredients.
3. Trans Fats: Trans fats increase bad cholesterol, promote inflammation, obesity and resistance to insulin. They are in fried foods, fast foods, commercially baked goods, such as peanut butter and items prepared with partially hydrogenated oil, margarine and vegetable oil.
4. Dairy: While kefir and some yogurts are acceptable, dairy is hard on the body. Milk is a common allergen that can trigger inflammation, stomach problems, skin rashes, hives and even breathing difficulties.
5. Feedlot-Raised Meat: Animals who are fed with grains like soy and corn contain high inflammation. These animals also gain excess fat and are injected with hormones and antibiotics. Always opt for organic, free-range meats who have been fed natural diets.
6. Red and Processed Meat: Red meat contains a molecule that humans don’t naturally produce called Neu5GC. Once you ingest this compound, your body develops antibodies which may trigger constant inflammatory responses. Reduce red meat consumption and replace with poultry, fish and learn cuts of red meat, once a week at most.
7. Alcohol: Regular consumption of alcohol causes irritation and inflammation to numerous organs, which can lead to cancer.
8. Refined Grains: “Refined” products have no fiber and have a high glycemic index. They are everywhere: white rice, white flour, white bread, pasta, pastries… Try and replace with minimally processed grains.
9. Artificial Food Additives: Aspartame and MSG are two common food additives that can trigger inflammation responses. Try and omit completely from the diet.
10. Fill in the Blank: Do you constantly have headaches or feel tired? Sometimes, you may develop an allergy to a food and not even know it. Coffee, certain vegetables, cheese… there might be a trigger you aren’t even aware of. Try and take a few foods out to see how you feel and slowly incorporate them back in to see if there might be a hidden culprit lurking in your diet!
Foods that fight pain and inflammation