Health and lifestyle routines have been improving for many people in the last few years. Despite the greater emphasis on exercise and an active lifestyle, many still suffer from chronic inflammation. Although inflammation can occur due to conditions beyond an individual’s control, there are also a number of foods which greatly increase the risk of chronic inflammation. If you struggle with inflammation, consider cutting these six foods out of your diet.
Sugar and High-Fructose Corn Syrup
In Western countries, both table sugar and high fructose corn syrup are added to many foods to enhance taste and activate dopamine receptors. These added sugars are generally unhealthy and an excess of either can wreak havoc on the body’s digestive system. Sugars are a known cause in the increasing inflammation problem in the country.
A study was conducted on mice which showed omega-3 fatty acids are impaired by a high sugar diet. In addition, some mice developed breast cancer which spread to their lungs, in part because of the inflammatory response of sugar in their diet. Sugar is also harmful to the body because it increases the level of fructose; a small trace of fructose in the body is normal but dumping in unneeded fructose from sources which add it for flavor is a disturbing and unhealthy trend.
Artificial Trans Fats
Artificial trans fats are among the unhealthiest fats available for consumption. They’re formed by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats, which are liquids, in order to create stability and a more solid fat. On ingredient labels, they’re frequently shown as “hydrogenated oils.” Many margarines and other processed foods contain artificial trans fats, as the ingredient is used to extend shelf life.
There are many naturally occurring and normal fats found in dairy and meat, but trans fats are far unhealthier than these because they can cause inflammation and increase risk of disease. Trans fats lower a healthy cholesterol, HDL, and inhibit the efficiency of endothelial cells which line your arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease. In a randomized controlled trial, hydrogenated soybean oil led to greater and more severe inflammation in women than palm or sunflower oils.
Vegetable and Seed Oils
Remarkably, the intake of vegetable oil increased nearly 130% during the 20th century. However, many experts believe that some vegetable oils, such as soybean oil, can increase inflammation because of their high omega-6 fatty acid content. While some omega-6 fats are crucial to a healthy diet, Westerners typically consume significantly more than are necessary.
This imbalance has led many scientists to recommend omega-3 rich foods such as fish to create a more equal ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. In one study, rats fed a ratio of 20:1 omega-6 to omega-3 had significantly more markers of inflammation than those fed rations of 1:1 or even 5:1. While the research into omega-6 is limited, it’s currently recommended that people cut down on vegetable oils and increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
Carbs have been vilified in recent years, but there are many reasons to include a healthy portion of carbohydrates in your diet. However, refined carbs have been linked to increased inflammation and heighted risk of some diseases. The removal of fiber from refined carbs greatly reduce their nutritional benefits, as the fiber improves blood sugar control and feeds needed gut bacteria.
Conversely, refined carbs today have been linked to inflammatory gut bacteria growth which can cause obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. In one study, men who ate fifty grams of refined carbs per day saw an increase in their blood sugar levels and in levels of inflammatory markers.
Moderate, controlled alcohol consumption has actually been shown to provide mild health benefits. However, drinking alcohol to excess can lead to several severe problems. In one study, the inflammatory marker CRP increased in those who consumed alcohol on a basis more frequent than average. People who drink heavily may also begin to experience problems due to bacterial toxins flowing out of the colon and into the body.
This condition, known as “leaky gut syndrome,” is a cause of widespread inflammation which can lead to organ damage. Leaky gut syndrome can also lead to a host of other symptoms, some more moderate than others. Prevention of this disease calls for limiting alcohol consumption to two standard drinks per day for men and one for women.
Natural, non-refined meat is a healthy and balanced part of any diet. However, processed meat holds nearly none of the nutritional benefits of natural meat and could be responsible for a host of health problems. For instance, processed meat has been found to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stomach cancer. Processed meat can include such meats as sausage, bacon, ham, smoked meat, and beef jerky.
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are the main cause for the unhealthy nature of processed meats. AGEs are formed by cooking meats at high temperature and are found in greater quantities in processed meats than regular meats. AGEs cause inflammation in a number of areas, most notably the gut. Finally, colon cancer risk is increased with increased processed meat consumption because, most likely, the inflammatory response of colon cells to the meats.