Foods that Cause Inflammation
Eating foods that cause inflammation in our bodies dramatically increases the risk over time of contracting many chronic diseases that result in premature death.
Inflammatory foods increase inflammation in the body. What kind of foods am I talking about? Well, let’s see.
How about commercially baked goods, frying oils, and fatty meats to start? Avoiding fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods also contribute to inflammation in the body.
A study of four million people from all over the world found a powerful connection among heart attacks, bowel cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancers, oral cancers, depression, and inflammatory foods.
But what is inflammation?
Inflammation is a swelling and is one of our body’s natural defense mechanisms. It’s the immune system’s response to an irritant. If you’ve ever had an infection or bruises, you know how that area of your body gets swollen. It’s often a sign that the body is working to protect us. Have you ever turned your ankle or sprained it? What happens? It swells and your body delivers resources to help repair the damage.
The Problem of Inflammation and Foods We Eat
The problem is when it becomes hard to turn off the inflammation or swelling of the body. Imagine if the swelling in your sprained ankle never went away. That would be considered a more serious problem. Some physicians might even call it chronic inflammation.
Well, eating inflammatory foods like baked goods, cakes, cookies, breads, oily foods like french fries, chicken nuggets, fried chicken, fried fish and fatty meats like pork, bacon, and thick deliciously-marbled steaks over say ten or twenty years and eating only a minimum of vegetables and fruits cause persistent low levels of inflammation in our bodies.
Dietary Habits of Young Adults
It always strikes me as interesting that so many young adults from 20 to 40 years of age seem to revel in the types of foods mentioned above. For years, they are fed and later feed themselves those types of foods. Whether it’s a result of their family’s dietary habits over eighteen years that causes body inflammation over into adulthood, I can’t say for sure, but it’s the likely cause of our eating habits as adults. So, at twenty years of age, young active adults are thin, muscular, shapely and usually healthy and carefree with their diets.
Consequences of Inflammatory Dietary Habits
As they enter the workforce and start earning money and creating their own families and having children, they return to those comfort foods as needed and notice that they’re ‘filling out’ a little – getting more muscular, a little heavier, or for women, they begin to notice that they’re starting to gain weight that they might not have had before. Men ignore it. Women begin to panic a little. Those who panic a lot start dieting and exercise regimes to keep fit. Their children might keep them active and busy, but they notice their friends and companions are also gaining weight. Life begins then to revolve around working out together or for those working in office, the company gyms.
Those who recognize what is happening and who take steps to correct their inflammatory diets often get control of the situation, but definitely go through periods of withdrawal symptoms where cravings for fried chicken or cake overwhelm them.
Those who ignore their body inflammation will continue to occasionally eat cakes, fried foods, well-marbled steaks, pork, fried fish, french fries, with a salad or two smothered with dressing. Then they’ll wash it all down with a cold beer, a glass of wine, or a can of soda or flavored water. Once in awhile they’ll have an orange or banana.
By the time these people are 40, they are definitely bigger, heavier, more sluggish. They also still cling to the hope they can get back in shape like they were in their twenties. In fact, they are well on their way to contracting chronic medical problems that include cancers, diabetes type 2, cardiovascular issues, and respiratory illnesses.
Results of Eating Inflammatory Foods
This doesn’t mean they will die in their forties of some chronic disease. They’ve just increased the likelihood of developing them as they turn fifty or sixty years old. Obesity is the result of consuming inflammatory foods over a long period of time. Exercise then begins to become critical. Correcting diets often become necessary. The problem is the diets are often hard to stick to and easy to break. Health issues become central. With proper care of the body though, it’s possible to avoid the worst consequences.
Physicians can tell us whether chronic inflammation exists in our body with a simple blood test that looks at levels of inflammatory markers in the blood. The foods we eat are the most important factor influencing levels of these inflammatory markers. There are many more, but foods remain the most important.
Foods that Cause Inflammation – Western Diets
The western diet consisting of high-calorie, highly-processed foods and that is low in fruits, vegetables and other plant-foods is the worst in the world. Westerners suffer from higher levels of inflammation as a consequence.
The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, is high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, olive oil and oily fish, and low in highly-processed, refined foods and is better for us.
The fact is, there’s no magic supplement or superfood to mitigate all our inflammation problems. Don’t expect one soon.
Eat Foods that Are Non-Inflammatory
Instead, focus on what to eat.
Eat plant foods like fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, chickpeas and lentils. These foods are high in anti-inflammatory nutrients including fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals such as polyphenols – plant compounds with antioxidant and anti=inflammatory effects.
Eat your food with herbs and spices of different kinds, and sip on tea and coffee regularly. These are also great sources of polyphenols
Eat salmon, sardines and mackerel, each is rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
Stay away from foods high in trans and saturated fats. Those fats are often part of commercially baked goods, fried foods and fatty meats.
Starting an anti-inflammatory diet could be very helpful to your health, and may help you live a lot longer too.