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9 Inflammatory Foods That Should Be Avoided + Foods to Combat Inflammation


Inflammatory responses in the body are very much natural. In fact, inflammation is essential in the complex process of healing and protection when we experience tissue damage. In other words, inflammation is a sign that your body is protecting and healing itself. Therefore it only makes sense that foods that induce inflammatory responses are a matter of concern.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to many serious illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, several cancers, migraines, dementia, and most notably, heart diseases. For those who are unaware of this, cardiovascular illnesses are the leading cause of death in the world. According to the WHO (World Health Organization) there were approximately 17.5 million deaths due to heart related illnesses in 2012. That accounts for 30% of deaths around the world.

But fret not. A seemingly endless body of research suggests that we can reduce our risk of developing these illnesses by altering our lifestyles. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to dive into how important it is to take care of your body, as the reasons are nothing short of obvious. But it is necessary to know how to take care of your body and how to avoid these deadly diseases. Step one: avoid these foods.

1. Sugars

A disproportionate sugar intake can have a list of consequences. It is believed to heighten risks of type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammation. Not to mention it degrades your teeth. Other research indicates that sugars can worsen or even cause acne. Sugar can seem almost impossible to avoid since just about everything has sugar in it. But in terms of moderation and/or avoidance, high sugar products like sodas, fruit drinks, candies, pastries, etc. should be monitored. Some healthy substitutes for sugar include stevia, honey, and blackstrap molasses. And while sugars found in sweet treats is something to avoid, natural sugars in organic fresh and dried fruit are not a matter of the same concern. Fruits supply the body with natural antioxidants, vitamins, and fibers that can only be found in natures juicy snacks.

2. Common Cooking Oils

Many cooking oils used in homes and businesses contains high levels of omega-6 fatty acids with very poor omega-3 acids. This type of imbalance can trigger inflammatory reactions and eventually cause one of the many disorders and illnesses listed earlier. Not surprisingly, these oils are often used to prepare processed foods. It’s best to avoid or moderate intake of polyunsaturated vegetable oils like cottonseed, safflower, corn, sunflower oils, and grape seed. Extra virgin olive oil and macadamia oil are great healthy alternatives, as their omega 6 to 3 ratios are much more balanced. Macadamia oil actually has a 1:1 ratio and contains oleic acid which is healthy for the cardiovascular system.

3. Trans Fats

Trans fats are sneaky little buggers. Not only do they raise levels of unhealthy cholesterol, but they also suppress levels of “healthy” cholesterol. A steady diet of trans fats can assist in developing obesity, chronic inflammation, and a dangerous resistance to insulin. This can lead to more serious illnesses. Trans fats are almost, if not, just as common as processed sugars. They can be found in abundance in fast food, processed goods, deep-fried foods, foods prepared with partially hydrogenated oil, margarine, or vegetable shortening. It’s important to keep in mind that a label reading “0 trans fats” doesn’t necessarily mean it is free of trans fats. US law allows products with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat to be labeled free of them. To make sure you’re actually avoiding trans fats, check the ingredients to see if partially hydrogenated oil or vegetable shortening was used in preparation. If yes, toss it.

4. Dairy Products

According to researchers, the ability to digest milk after infancy is abnormal. It is actually believed that some 60% of people cannot digest milk. Therefore it isn’t uncommon for milk to cause inflammation. In some, dairy products can cause stomach aches, diarrhea, constipation, rashes, hives, acne, and respiratory stress. The number of dairy products and the goods that contain them is endless. Butter and cheese can probably be found in 9 of the 10 foods you can name off the top of your head. These foods include cookies, breads, cereals, cakes, crackers, and many, many more. Those sensitive to milk can substitute it with Kefir and unsweetened yogurt in moderation. The lactose and proteins found in the milk are broken down by yeasts or bacteria, allowing easy digestion and little to zero irritation.

5. Feedlot-Raised Meat

Meats produced by commercial suppliers typically have a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids and lacking in omega-3. Along with an excess of inflammatory acids, close living quarters reduce opportunity for exercise, causing the animals to gain extra weight riddled with saturated fat. And to top it all off, they’re given artificial supplements to promote a speedier growth. Just about every bit of commercial meat you buy has gone through this process unless marked differently. Now I’m not going to say that meat should be completely cut from your diet. So a healthier option for meat eaters is free range animals fed organic foods with more omega-3 acids. Free range animals have the opportunity to actually move, making their meat leaner and healthier with lower levels of saturated fat.


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