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Top foods that cause inflammation

We know what to eat to fight inflammation, but what are the most common causes of inflammation in our diet?

Top foods that cause inflammation

Inflammation can be both beneficial and detrimental to your overall wellbeing. In small doses, inflammation helps to heal infections and defend your body from foreign invaders. In consistent and chronic cases, inflammation can be incredibly harmful.

Not only does it disturb and unbalance the good bacteria in your gut, it can cause symptoms like flatulence, bloating, pain and sleep issues. Chronic inflammation has also been linked to an increased risk of disease – such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and even cancer.

Ongoing and untreated inflammation can be caused by virus, bacterial infections or autoimmune disorders. Inflammation can also be brought on or exacerbated by constant stress, anxiety or poor diet.

Whilst inflammation is integral to how our bodies work through issues to survive, when inflammation manifests itself in allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disease and asthma, it means that levels of inflammation are beginning to run out of control.

Luckily there are ways to control inflammation through diet. Here are the top foods that cause inflammation.

Sugar and High Fructose Foods and Syrups 

Sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup, as well as alternative sweeteners, are the main sugars added to everyday diets. A diet that includes high or even moderate doses of added sugar on a regular basis can be extremely damaging to your body.

Recent studies show sugar may also be causing us to age prematurely. According to Professor Robert Lustig, author of Fat Chance: The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Obesity and Disease, the harmful effects of sugar are similar to those of tobacco. “When foods contain fructose, they brown better – bread for instance toasts better. But it means that our insides are browning too, so we’re ageing faster.”

According to Lustig, half the sugar we’re consuming today is in items we didn’t even know had sugar. “If you look at virtually every item in the store that has a food label, it has some form of sugar.”

Trans fats contain no nutritional value and are extremely detrimental to our health. They are created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats, which start off as liquids and are transformed into a solids.

Often labelled on your favourite foods as “partially hydrogenated” oils, foods like margarine have been shown to impair the function of the endothelial cells lining the arteries.

Vegetable and Seed Oils

Unlike extra virgin olive oil and organic coconut oil, vegetable and seed oils are often extracted from foods using harsh chemicals like hexane – a component of gasoline.

Vegetable oils like corn, safflower, sunflower, peanut, sesame, cottonseed, soybean and canola oils contain polyunsaturated fatty acids that are incredibly prone to damage by oxidation.

These oils also contain high levels of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids which can be harmful with excessive consumption and promote inflammation.

Excessive Alcohol

It’s no secret that high amounts of alcohol consumption, as well as binge drinking, can cause real issues to our health.

People who consume large amounts of alcohol can develop issues with bacteria moving from the colon into the body. This condition, otherwise called ‘leaky gut’, occurs when gut cells react by releasing zonulin, a protein that has the ability to break apart tight junctions in the intestinal lining. The gut wall can also be permeated by stress, infections, toxins and inflammation, causing junctions to be susceptible to breakage.

Refined Carbs

Consuming a diet high in refined carbohydrates can lead to a growth in inflammatory gut bacteria and increases the risk of bowel disease and obesity.

One reason for this is that refined carbs have had most of their fibre removed.

“Diet is one of the most powerful tools we have for changing the microbiota,” Justin Sonnenburg, a biologist at Stanford University, said earlier this month at a Keystone Symposia conference on the gut microbiome. “Dietary fiber and diversity of the microbiota complement each other for better health outcomes.”

The microbes that survive and feast on fermentable fibres from various foods assist the process whereby microbes are able to extract the energy, nutrients and other compounds that would otherwise be indigestible.

In a recent study conducted by the University of Michigan Medical School, a group of mice were fed a high-fibre diet and had their gut lining analysed. An opposing group were fed a diet free from fibre and subsequently showed a significant decrease in the protective lining of their gut.

The good news is we can heal our gut – and our health issues – by feeding ourselves the right stuff.

The low-down on what low-fibre diets are doing to our gut

4 foods to fight inflammation

Probiotics: How to get more of them in your diet

What inflammation is actually doing to your body

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