Nowadays we know more about diet and health than any other population in history. Because we understand our own various eating behaviors and cravings we can understand why our relationships with food can sometimes feel “toxic.”
On a physical level, our relationship with food can certainly be toxic. Inflammation in our bodies is a major health concern, and our diets have a huge effect on the levels of inflammation in our bodies.
Chronic Inflammation And Free Radicals
Inflammation is your body’s attempt to heal itself by fighting against things that harm it, such as infections, injuries, and toxins.
When your cells are damaged, your body releases chemicals that cause your immune system to respond. (1)
This reaction includes the release of antibodies and proteins, as well as increased blood flow to the affected area. In the case of acute inflammation, such as a cut on your knee, or a cold, the entire process usually lasts a few hours to days. (1)
Chronic inflammation occurs when your body continues to send inflammatory cells, even when there is no external threat.
In rheumatoid arthritis, for example, inflammatory cells and substances attack joint tissues, causing inflammation that comes and goes and can cause damage to joints, including pain.
Immune cells called macrophages produce free radicals while fighting off invading attacks. These free radicals can damage healthy cells, leading to inflammation. (12)
Under normal circumstances, inflammation goes away after the immune system eliminates the attack- the infection or the damaged tissue.
However, oxidative stress can also trigger the inflammatory response, which, in turn, produces more free radicals that can lead to further oxidative stress, creating a cycle.
Symptoms Of Chronic Inflammation
Our bodies use inflammation to fight off illness and heal injuries, but chronic, long-term inflammation can be dangerous for three reasons:
- It damages cell DNA, which may lead to cancer.
- Inflammation promotes the growth of plaques in arteries and triggers blood clots, which can cause heart disease.
- Inflammation also increases insulin resistance, which can cause diabetes. (2)
Various ailments that we may suspect have somehow been a link between our body inflammation and certain symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Common symptoms of chronic inflammation include:
- Body pain
- Gastrointestinal complications
- Weight gain, or loss
Chronic inflammation in the body may be caused by a range of factors:
- Untreated infections or injury
- Autoimmune disorders
- Long-term exposure to irritants, like industrial chemicals or polluted air
- Poor diet choices. (1)
There is no one-size-fits-all food diet for inflammation because not everyone’s genetics and biochemistry are the same.
However, the risk of chronic inflammation may be higher, depending on our diets — sugar, processed meat, and fried foods can all cause inflammation. Limiting certain foods can help reduce inflammation and cut out the risk of chronic diseases.
Everyday snacking, or our essential meals can have the biggest impact on inflammation in our bodies. So we should always support our own healthy guts, and reduce inflammation, so we can feel good in both body and mind.
Check out Dr. Nandi’s Superfood Cookbook for inspiration. It has the potential to change your eating habits, your energy level, and your health.
4 Foods That Cause Inflammation
Sugar stimulates the production of fatty acids in the liver. When the body digests these fatty acids, the resulting compounds can trigger inflammatory processes. Also, consuming sugary foods causes the body to produce more of the hormone insulin, boosting body fat. These fat cells produce chemicals in the body that lead to inflammation. (2)
- Fried Foods
Fried foods tend to have high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. Too many omega-6 fatty acids can change the way body cells react, having harmful effects on cells in the heart and blood vessels. Some omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation with elevated intakes playing a role in complex regional pain syndrome.
Fried food often contains trans fats. There are two broad types of trans fats found in foods: naturally occurring and artificial trans fats.
Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Studies indicate that trans fats increase inflammatory markers when replacing other nutrients in the diet. (3,6,7)
Lastly, fried foods produce compounds in the body called advanced glycation end products, also known as AGEs. These directly stimulate inflammation. (8)
- Red Meat And Processed Foods
Known to contribute to inflammation, red meat is any meat that comes from cows, pigs, sheep, and goats.
Processed meats include:
- Meat jerkies
- Hot dogs
- Various deli meats
- Sausages. (9)
Studies show that higher consumption of red meat and processed meat is associated with an increased risk of cancer, and cardiovascular mortality, which goes hand-in-hand with inflammation. (10)
- Cooking Oils
Many common cooking oils contain omega-6 fatty acids, a type of fat. Omega-6 fatty acids aren’t always bad; your body uses them for energy and normal growth.
However, omega-6 fats need to be in a careful balance with omega-3 fats that you can get from foods like salmon, mackerel, and flaxseed. If you eat too much omega-6 fat, it can throw off this balance, triggering inflammation. (2)
Health Foods With Antioxidants Can Reduce Inflammation
Sweet, savory, hot, sour, salty, aromatic, or bitter. These are all the sensations of a satisfying meal. Who doesn’t love a bit of everything when it comes to satisfying our cravings, or simply being adventurous with our food?
With the power of educational dietary needs information, you can look at what you eat when you’re in situations that could lead to the continuation of some unhealthy habits, and avoid unnecessary inflammation in your body. Once you know what to eat you can be a shining example of health, energy, and vitality.
To help inspire you here are a few of the yummiest and science-proven against inflammation around:
- Fatty Fish
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Cherries (11)
As health-smart individuals, we should really be implementing wondrous inflammation-reducing foods packed with healthy antioxidants into our diets as possible.
Dr. Nandi is a renowned nutritional expert and has helped millions of people to step into greater health and wellness. He has condensed highlights from decades of research and advocacy into a handy SuperFood Cookbook so you can remember some of the best foods to include in your diet every day – and which ones you should avoid!