Inflammation is your body’s natural way of protecting itself when it’s sick or injured. The white blood cells in your body offer protection from infection, bacteria, and viruses. However, if inflammation occurs in the body for an extended period it can be very harmful and is linked to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Some common symptoms of inflammation:
- Swollen joint that can be warm to the touch
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Loss of joint function
The foods you eat can have a profound effect on the inflammation in your body. Here are the top 5 foods and beverages to avoid if you’re looking to reduce inflammation:
- Sugars and high-fructose corn syrup.
The two main types of sugar added in our diets are table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Sugar often has a few names within an ingredient list: corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, golden syrup, maltose, sorghum syrup, and sucrose are some of the names used for sugar. Consuming a high-sugar diet drives up inflammation and can lead to disease like diabetes. It can also counteract the anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3 fatty acids.
- If you have a sweet tooth, try using natural sweeteners like stevia or honey. Natural sugars found in fresh or dried fruits are also great choices because fruits also provide vitamins, antioxidants, and fibers.
- Artificial trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils.
These are created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats and are often added to processed foods to extend shelf life. These fats are unlike the naturally occurring fats found in dairy and meat and have been shown to increase inflammation and increase the risk for disease.
- Look for foods that contain zero trans fats, partially hydrogenated oil or vegetable oil shortening. Many commercially prepared foods will contain trans fats.
- Common cooking oils.
Vegetable oils and seed oils are often extracted from foods using a solvent called hexane, which is a component of gasoline. These oils include corn, safflower, sunflower, canola, peanut sesame and soybean oils. These oils are highly processed and are known to promote inflammation because of their extremely high levels of omega-6 fatty acid content.
- Replace your common cooking oils with macadamia oil, extra virgin olive oil or other edible oils like avocado oil or coconut oil.
- Refined grains.
Not all carbohydrates are problematic, but refined carbohydrates have been known to increase inflammation. These refined carbohydrates have had most of their fiber removed and may encourage the growth of inflammatory bacteria in our gut. Refined grains are as good as refined sugars and are essentially empty calories.
- Look for minimally processed grains and buy grains closest to their natural state.
- Alcohol in excess.
Heavy alcohol consumption can increase inflammation and lead to “leaky gut” that drives inflammation throughout the body.
- To avoid excess consumption, intake should be limited to two standard drinks a day for men and one standard drink a day for women.
Some inflammation in the body is unavoidable such as inflammation triggered by pollution, injury or sickness. You do, however, have control over the food and beverages you consume. Minimize your consumption of these inflammatory foods and help protect your body against disease!