Inflammation by definition is a normal bodily function. When the body gets injured or sick, the immune system kicks in and brings the white blood cells to the area of infection/concern to increase blood flow, because blood is what heals. Life is in the blood. When all the white blood cells come to the infected or injured area, we may experience pain, swelling, redness, heat, or discomfort. In a healthy body, inflammation is effective and a normal response to bring healing.
However, in some diseases such as arthritis or celiac, the body's defense system , which is the immune system, triggers an inflammatory response but there are no infections or foreign invaders to attack. This happens in autoimmune diseases where the immune system causes damage to its own tissues thinking they are infected or abnormal.
Certain foods cause the body to respond with more inflammation, whereas other foods are anti inflammatory and reduce inflammation and result in a more anti inflammatory response. Nutrition is at the core of a healthy body, and the knowledge of what foods will promote anti inflammation will come in so beneficial if you ever find yourself injured or sick. An anti inflammatory diet and lifestyle are a very good thing.
First we have here some culprits of inflammatory foods that cause inflammation and can be highly problematic. In the next article, What Foods are Anti Inflammatory? Our Top 11 List, we will detail out the anti inflammatory foods that you should consider adding to a more anti inflammatory diet.
The inflammatory foods below, when eaten as a majority food group consumed in a day, week, year, are concerning and could be considered a chronic inflammation diet. However, keep in mind, an occasional REAL food item, using natural ingredients and not synthetic, can be a treat or on occasion, and it also may be a reminder of how good you feel when you eat an anti inflammatory diet.
1. High percentage of Refined Sugar: Soda, snack bars, candy, baked sweets, coffee drinks (think: frappachinos, lattes, and the like). The primary weight of most of these items is sugar, and it is easy to 'overdose' or eat too much because it leaves your body craving for more. This is the main issue.
2. Refined flour and starch: pasta, pizza, flour tortillas, breakfast cereals. Since many of these are stripped of fiber, the kind that is slow-digesting which has both insoluble and soluble fiber.
3. GMO corn and GMO soy. If we are not on the lookout, derivatives of these are found in everything from salad dressing to cooking oils.4. Fried foods
5. High doses of cheese and dairy. Yogurt, pasture-fed whole milk, occasional cheese is a normal part of most Americans’ diet, but sometimes we can consume cheese as the primary part of the meal (think: pizza, wine and cheese, etc.)
6. Heavily processed oils (could be hiding in processed foods such as protein bars to spreads)
7. Artificial sweeteners: ‘No sugar added’ products, no-calorie "Diet" soft drinks.
8. Artificial additives: Fake coloring, fake flavoring found in breakfast cereals, beverages, processed foods including candy, ice cream, etc.
9. Processed meats: deli counter meats, lunch meat that contain nitrites, nitrates, high doses of sodium. A bit more explanation if you are not as familiar: sodium nitrate (saltpeter) or sodium nitrite (pink salt). Processed meats that utilize a synthetic process (and additives) for curing are a culprit. Traditional (usually more expensive) methods of curing that utilize just salt and natural seasoning are superior, but one still does have to watch the sodium levels. At the store, I am seeing these 'uncured' meats, which quite frankly, I don't really get since curing meat is a process that HAS to happen when preserving meat to be shelf stable. Traditional curing is ancient. However, I think they are trying to say they are not using the nitrites and nitrates, but still, be wary of marketing!
10. Alcohol: Millennials drank nearly HALF of all wine consumption in the US in 2015, more than another other generation. That's according to research from the industry nonprofit Wine Market Council, detailed in Wine Spectator. That is 159.6 million cases of wine in 2015—an average of two cases per person. All the variety of alcohol available - craft brews, vodka, heavy liquors, and wine when consumed regularly and in high dosage and frequency are very taxing to the body as the break-down process of alcohol generates toxic by-products which can damage liver cells (or cause liver to work extra hard), promote inflammation, and weaken the body's immune system. A seldom drink is much less work to the liver and body (or supe it up with some antioxidants! or do antioxidants on the side :) ). The other major downside of regular consumption of alcohol or frequent intoxication is an accelerated aging process in the body. This evidence, unfortunately, does bear out years down the road.