9 Foods that Cause Inflammation and 9 Ways to Fight it
What you eat affects more than your weight. We talk a lot in The Beauty Detox Solution about how certain foods can affect your health and beauty. Foods that promote inflammation are among the worst offenders, robbing you of your vitality and vibrancy, and making you feel terrible. The promote general aging as well.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is one of the body’s natural immune responses. When a foreign invader – such is an infection or injury – enters the body, your body responds with an inflammatory counter attack. While you may recognize inflammation when you sprain your ankle and it swells, that type of inflammation is localized. However, it can also be systemic, affecting your organs and internal structures.
Effects of Chronic Inflammation
- Studies have linked chronic low-grade inflammation to heart disease.
- Chronic early inflammation has been linked to dementia in older adults.
- Some studies suggest inflammation may cause common age-related diseases that lead to disability in older adults.
- Chronic inflammation can lead to chronic pain.
- Many autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease are also linked to inflammation.
Causes of Chronic Inflammation
A number of lifestyle factors can cause chronic inflammation. These include:
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of exercise
Foods that Cause Inflammation
The good news is you can control a number of the factors that cause inflammation. Getting plenty of sleep, stopping smoking if you do, and engaging in regular exercise will all make a difference. So will diet. The Beauty Detox lifestyle is an anti-inflammatory diet with a cleansing component that helps you rid your body of the toxicity leading to inflammation.
I wanted to take a closer look at the foods that do contribute to inflammation so you can avoid them! Here are nine of the worst offenders.
1. Sugar and refined starch
Every time you eat refined carbohydrates (any type of sugar including HFCS, sucrose, lactose, and others, as well as white foods such as white bread, etc.), it results in a rapid rise in blood sugar. This, in turn, causes insulin levels to rise, triggering an immune response. When blood sugar levels and/or insulin levels are high, the result is a pro-inflammatory response. This occurs every time you eat foods containing refined sugars and starches, which can lead to chronic inflammation.
Note: Be sure to also avoid agave, which may be low in glucose but super high in fructose, which creates its own set of problems.
2. Vegetable oil
Many vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fats, reducing your body’s critical balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fats. While omega-6 fatty acids are not bad in and of themselves, when your body gets out of balance, inflammation can result. That’s why I recommend cooking with just a tiny amount of coconut oil, which contains medium chain fatty acids. Olive oil is okay in small amounts as it is a monounsaturated oil. Avoid corn, soybean, safflower, etc. oils and products that contain them- like vegan “butter” spreads and mayonnaise.
3. Dairy products
Dairy can cause inflammation because your body recognizes it as a foreign invader and fights it with an inflammatory response. That’s because the human body does not process the high levels of protein (casein) or sugar (lactose) in dairy products well.
4. Red meat
Eating red meat produces a chemical called Neu5gc. The body produces an inflammatory immune response to it.
5. Wheat, rye, and barleyThese grains all contain the common allergen, gluten. When an allergen enters the body, the result is an immediate inflammatory immune response.
6. Foods high in trans fats When you eat trans fats (hydrogenated oils found in many processed foods), they create low-density lipoproteins. LDLs feed inflammation.
7. Processed Corn
You’d be shocked at just how much corn there is in processed foods. The food processing industry uses a number of corn derivatives such as high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch, corn oil because it is cheap and plentiful. In its refined form, corn spikes blood sugar, leading to an increased insulin and inflammatory response.
Peanuts are one of the most common food allergens. There are naturally occurring molds found on peanuts. Even if you don’t have an anaphylactic response to peanuts, your body may recognize them as foreign invaders and create an inflammatory response.
9. Foods containing chemicals
The human body has not evolved to eat artificial chemicals such as additives, preservatives, food coloring, and the many other chemicals found in processed foods. Because your body doesn’t recognize these things as foods (and with good reason – they aren’t!), it launches an immune system response.
Good news! You can quiet inflammation with the foods you choose, as well. Here are my top nine.
1. Dark, leafy greens
Spinach, kale, and romaine, etc. are all terrific inflammation fighters because they’re rich in antioxidants and other natural anti-inflammatory agents. Yet another reason to start your day with the Glowing Green Smoothie.
This pungent spice often found in curry has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, it’s delicious!
3. Flaxseed Flax contains omega-3 fats, which are anti-inflammatory. Try sprinkling a little freshly ground flax on your salad.
High in anti-oxidants, blueberries are a healthy and delicious anti-inflammatory food.
5. Broccoli, cabbage, and other cruciferous veggies
These foods are high in anti-oxidants, and they have a natural detoxifying effect. Therefore, you can eat them and cleanse your body of any harmful chemicals that are contributing to inflammation.
6. Probiotic and Enzyme Salad
This salad promotes better digestion and healthier gut flora, a potent mix for detoxification and fighting inflammation.
7. Chia seeds
Chia is high in inflammation fighting omega-3 fatty acids.
These luscious fruits are high in carotenoids, which fight inflammation. They contain easily digestible monounsaturated fat, but don’t overdo it. 1/2 of a medium one is a day is a good maximum daily amount- and skip the oil on a salad if you are eating the avo with it.
9. Shiitake mushrooms
These Asian mushrooms contain high-molecular-weight polysaccharides (HMWP), which have been shown to improve immune function. When I am feeling run down I often eat shiitake mushrooms and they help me feel revived.