If you've ever had a cut, scrape, injury or surgery you understand what inflammation looks like on the outside. What we're not aware of is what inflammation looks like on the inside. And as the term implies, it's not pretty. Inflammation can have a significant impact on pain, and unfortunately much more severe disease processes including predisposition to cancers, arthritis and more. Diet has a huge impact on inflammation and substances contained in a lot of the foods we consume today are major culprits.
Processed and fried foods:
This is probably the one most people are familiar with. These often contain high levels of trans fats, refined carbs and additives that can promote inflammation.
Sugar and Sweet Drinks:
Eating too much sugar can increase the chemical reactions that cause inflammation in your body. It's also important to note that artificial sweeteners also can create significant negative impacts not only in blood sugar and inflammation but other processes including cancer. Aspartame was recently discussed in the media connected to cancer. Not surprisingly, this has also been known for many years.
It's commonly said the whiter the food color the worse it is for us. White bread, white rice, and pasta made from refined grains have a high glycemic index and can help cause inflammation.
Vegetable & Seed Oils:
These are absolutely positively one of the worst, and are contained everywhere including so-called healthy and vegan foods. Oils, such as corn, soybean, and sunflower oil, safflower, canola many of the other ones you'll see if you read labels, are high in omega-6 fatty acids and can promote inflammation and quite possibly more severe illness as evidence continues to emerge. Last week, we published two articles on omega-3 fatty acids and discussed their food sources. This is important to review as these are powerful anti-inflammatory agents.
Red and processed meats:
It is well known that these contain saturated fats and what are called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which simply explained are proteins and fats that combine internally that can cause inflammation. Significant offenders in this category include cheese, mayonnaise, butter, etcetera. Many processed meats also contain well known cancer causing additives such as nitrosamines which has been well known for over 40 years.
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause inflammation and damage organs such as the liver. Although never addressed by the media, this is something we discuss with patients often, there is no 100% safe level for alcohol consumption.
Some food additives, such as artificial sweeteners, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and certain food colors, have been linked to increased inflammation in some people. It's important to note that the relationship between certain foods and inflammation may vary from person to person. One of the major concerns are the unique combinations in diet that individuals have which could have significant additive negative effects.
Our Practice Members can also have dietary counseling and private nutrition counseling sessions at no charge. This is something we urge you to take advantage of as everyone is different especially when it comes to food consumption, intolerances, potential allergies etc. There is no one-size-fits-all.
The Takeaway: Having a healthy awareness of the biggest offenders can improve our grocery shopping habits for the better!
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