We’re not the type to say that you should never eat a certain food. However, there are some items that should be relegated as a once-in-a-while treat. This includes inflammatory foods that — as yummy as they may be — wreak all sorts of havoc in your digestive tract, joints and hormone response system. Knowing what foods cause inflammation will help you make healthier decisions at the grocery store.
The below list of inflammatory foods to avoid isn’t an exhaustive one by any means… but it’s a good start for anyone not already watching their diet.
1. Refined Carbohydrates
The western diet is high in foods that cause inflammation, like white bread, pastas and breakfast cereals. Since they’re highly processed, much of the natural fiber, vitamins and minerals are removed and later artificially put back in. This is why you often see food packages with the label “fortified with essential vitamins and minerals.”
Refined carbs are also high on the glycemic index, which entails high traces of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). This is a form of glycotoxin; studies show it’s not only linked to inflammation, but also to diabetes and other chronic diseases.
There is nothing wrong with having the occasional pint. In fact, some alcoholic beverages, like red wine, have benefits when consumed in moderation. However, it’s a whole other story when you’re downing an entire six-pack twice a week.
We hate to be the bearer of bad news if you enjoy an ice-cold beer after a hard day at work. Unfortunately, alcohol is one of the foods that cause inflammation in the body. Alcohol is taxing on the liver. Studies also show that it induces inflammation and may interfere with the interaction between the brain, gut, and liver.
If you’re more than the occasional drinker, then we suggest checking out our post on reducing the effects of alcohol.
READ MORE: Do Low-Carb Diets Reduce Inflammation?
3. Fast Food
It should be no surprise that fast food is among the foods that increase inflammation. It has just about all the stuff that constitutes an unhealthy meal, including refined carbs, processed meats and trans fats. We get that many people have to eat while on the go. However, even a pre-made meal from a gas station is a better option than fast food.
According to a German study from the University of Bonn, mice that were fed fast food for 30 days exhibited remarkably high levels of monocytes and granulocytes. These compounds are linked to inflammatory responses and the erosion of immune cell production.
Soy is one of the most heavily genetically modified foods. Even the organic variant is not much better. Forget about all the so-called gurus that tout the benefits of natural soy. Many soy products contain lysinoalanine and nitrosamines, two toxins that cause inflammation and do serious damage at the cellular level.
We advise staying away from all soy-derived products, including soy milk and soy sauce. For vegetarians and vegans, stay away from the soy burgers and hot dogs. Even soy protein supplements are on the no-no list.
5. All Foods That Come in a Can
Foods that cause inflammation aren’t limited to the food itself. The container it comes in can also be harming your health. Aluminum cans contain dreaded BPA. Some of that chemical is leached into the food during its long shelf life. Studies show that, aside from inducing inflammation, BPA also increases obesity and insulin resistance.
Do you really need to buy canned peaches or canned beans when you could acquire them from a fresh source? We certainly acknowledge that canned goods have the convenience factor. If you do opt for foods in a can, look for a manufacturer that confirms its containers are BPA-free.
6. Artificial Sweeteners
We hate to break it to you, but diet soda is no better than its regular sugar-laden counterpart. Sure, you don’t have to put up with the extra empty calories, but the carbonated beverage contains dangerous artificial sweeteners, mostly in the form of aspartame. The Arthritis Foundation has warned against the use of aspartame due to its potential for inducing inflammation.
In a study published in Harvard Health, consumption of artificially sweetened diet drinks was also linked to a 67 percent increase in type 2 diabetes and a 36 percent increase in metabolic syndrome.
Of course, not all artificial sweeteners are created equal. The ones you should definitely steer clear of include aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame, and sucralose. Any item — including dietary supplements — that contains these artificial sweeteners are among the culprits.
7. Seed Oils
In past posts, we have touted the amazing benefits of certain oils, such as avocado and olive oil. However, there are also lower quality oils out there. Foods that cause inflammation also include the oils used for cooking our meals, such as vegetable, corn, sunflower and canola oil.
Unlike avocado and olive oil, which have high omega-3 fatty acids and low omega-6 fats, the reverse is true with seed oils. This means high levels of inflammation-causing polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
Avoiding Inflammatory Foods Is Not Enough
Staying away from foods that increase inflammation isn’t the end-all, be-all. There are so many other factors, such as genetics and environmental exposure, that leads to inflammation buildup. Aside from avoiding certain foods, you should also be gravitating towards others with a nutrient-dense profile. We also recommend supplementing with an all-natural product like Total Relief.
Once you bring your inflammation down, your body will have the innate ability to restore itself back to peak function.