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8 Inflammatory Foods That Could Be Wrecking Your Life

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Inflammation is your body’s natural response to protect itself from harm. On the flip side, too much inflammation (known as chronic inflammation) can cause adverse reactions, leaving you feeling unwell and full of discomfort. Acute inflammation happens as a result of injury or trauma to your body such as a cut finger or stubbed toe.  

Chronic inflammation can occur when unwanted substances and toxins enter your body, as a result of an irrational immune system OR when acute inflammation is left untreated.  Some of the “unwanted substances” responsible for chronic inflammation are some of the foods you’re likely consuming often.

(Yikes!) Keep reading to find the list of 8 common inflammatory foods and what you can eat instead to kick inflammation to the curb. 


Inflammatory Foods: 

1.    ❌  Dairy – Yes this means cheese and ice cream too! Most people think of milk when someone utters the forbidden D-word but let me remind you that DAIRY includes milk, cheese, ice creams, yogurt and butter. 


a.    ✔ There are several really delicious dairy-free alternatives and in most stores these products are located in the same section as the dairy product of choice.  A great substitute for butter is ghee.  Ghee (clarified butter) is produced when milk goes through a process of heating that allows for the water and milk solids to be removed. 


2.   ❌  Processed / Cured Meats – Hotdogs, smoked hams, sausages, salami, cheap jerky sticks, canned meats and corned beef have been linked in several reports released by the World Cancer Research Fund and The American Institute for Cancer Research as causing oxidative stress leading to cancers of the colon and rectum.  The reports also indicate implications that consumption of these processed / cured meats are linked to cancers of the esophagus and lungs as well.


a.  ✔   You may be thinking, “What’s a BBQ without a few dawgs on the grill” but not to worry, aim for the UNCURED versions of these popular cured meats instead and consume in moderation. 


3.   ❌  Alcohol – Beers, wines, ciders, liquors and liqueurs.  Now before you storm off to begrudgingly cancel your Bottomless Mimosa Brunch keep in mind that chronic inflammation has been linked to regular -high consumption of alcohol. While that liquid courage can be a precursor for a great time and even greater stories, if you find yourself drinking heavily on a more days than not, consider making some adjustments. Regular – high consumption of alcohol causes irritation of the esophagus, larynx (voice box) and liver, which over time, can lead to tumors and progressively worsen into cancer. 


a.  ✔   Moderation is key. A nightly glass of wine is doubtful to cause problems and neither is Mimosa Sundays. However, if you think you may have an addiction contact your local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for help.


4.  ❌   Seed Oils – Polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as grape seed, cottonseed, safflower, corn and sunflower oils.  These industrial vegetable oils are also commonly used to prepare most processed foods and takeout meals. Additionally, these oils are very high omega-6 fatty acids and miserably low omega-3 fats.  Recent studies reveal that a diet consisting of a highly imbalanced omega-6 to omega-3 ratio promotes inflammation and breeds inflammatory diseases like heart disease and cancer.


a. ✔    If you have these seed oils in your home, swap them out for oils like Olive, avocado or macadamia nut oil.  You can also aim for rendered animal fat in the form of grass feed beef tallow, duck fat and lard (from heritage pork).


5.   ❌  Trans Fats – Known as Partially Hydrogenated Oil or Vegetable Shortening, trans fatty acid are bad news causing the raising of bad cholesterol (LDL) and the lowering of good cholesterol (HDL) while also promoting inflammation, obesity and insulin resistance. Yuck, no thanks!


a.   ✔  Look for alternative products that contain zero trans- fats, or don’t have partially hydrogenated oil or vegetable shortening in the ingredients list.  When in doubt, assume that all commercially prepared foods contain trans- fats unless stated otherwise.


6.  ❌   Sugar – The dreaded “S” word! Sugar-sweetened beverages like soft drinks, fruit drinks and punches are one of the major sources of dietary sugars that many have overlooked. Excessive sugar intake causes tooth decay and has been linked to increased risks of obesity, inflammation and chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Other obvious sugar-loaded foods to avoid or limit include pastries, desserts, candies and snacks. When you’re looking out for sugar in the ingredients list, note that sugar has many names: corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, golden syrup, maltose, sorghum syrup and sucrose are some of the creative names used.


a.  ✔   Look for natural sweeteners like stevia, honey, or blackstrap molasses to flavor your beverages and foods modestly. Natural sugars found in fresh or dried fruits and fruit preserves with no added sugar are also great choices.


7.  ❌   Artificial Food Additives - Food additives like aspartame and monosodium glutamate (MSG) have been reported to trigger inflammatory responses, especially in people who are already suffering from inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.


a.   ✔  Check the labels on processed meats /foods and when ordering Chinese food, opt for places that are listed as MSG FREE. When ordering any takeout, it’s best practice to ask if MSG is used in their foods.  You’d be surprised (and saddened) at just how many places use MSG. 


8.    ❌ Refined Grains - White rice, white flour, white bread, noodles, pasta, biscuits and pastries. Now to make things worse, many products with refined grains undergo further processing to enhance their taste and look, and are often loaded with excess sugar, salt, artificial flavors and/or partially hydrogenated oil in the process.  A prime example is boxed cereals. Refined grains are devoid of fiber and vitamin B compared to unpolished and unrefined grains that still have the bran, germ and the aleuronic layer intact.  This makes refined grains as good as refined sugars, which are practically empty calories.  Like refined sugars, refined grains have a higher glycemic index than unprocessed grains and when they are consistently consumed, can hasten the onset of degenerative diseases like cancer and coronary disease.


a.  ✔   Look for minimally processed grains if you are not gluten intolerant or allergic to grains. 


A key takeaway is to remember that inflammation is a natural response and some inflammation is necessary to provide protective from further injury. It’s the prolonged inflammation that becomes an issue. By adjusting your diet to reduce the consumption of inflammatory foods, you reduce your personal risk to adverse health associated with chronic inflammation. 


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