Chronic, low-grade inflammation is the culprit behind nearly every known disease. Did you know your diet is the number one factor that determines your inflammation levels — for better or worse? Hopefully, you’re not waiting in a fast food line reading this because it’s about to get real here. The great news is if you’re considering a plant-based diet, raw diet, you’re on the right path.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you’ve continued to down soda despite warnings that it’s a one-way ticket to diabetes or cancer diagnosis. That’s intense information to process. For the majority of us, it’s hard to make decisions now based on how they will affect us in 40 years.
It’s easier to think in terms of short-term payoffs. For example, thinking about how soda can break out your skin, cause gas, interrupt your sleep, and ruin your diet makes you want to grab a glass of water instead, especially if you have a date that night.
For men, it may be easier to think of the long-term side effects of inflammation since one of them is erectile dysfunction. Impaired blood flow that happens as a result of diabetes and heart disease affects your whole body.
Consistently swapping inflammatory foods and beverages with anti-inflammatory foods is the fastest route to health.
The first step is cutting out inflammatory foods. Stop pouring gas on the fire.
Sugar is as bad as it’s made out to be. Don’t go reaching for artificial sweeteners to replace this villain because they’re just as bad and also cause inflammation. Any man-made chemical in your body is going to sound the alarms that a foreign substance has entered and caused inflammation. Artificial sweeteners are chemicals.
#2: Refined Grains
Refined grains are no better than sugar. Beyond bread, refined grains are what makeup pastries, breading on fried foods, pasta, and many other addicting carbs. “Refined” refers to stripping the grain of its natural state and adding chemicals for better texture, flavour etc.
#3: Trans Fat
Oils, most of which are made from heavily subsidized crops, came into the spotlight at the same time saturated fats became the unwitting villain. These oils are bad because of the way they’re produced, stored and the mass scale on which they’re used. To begin with, these oils are rich in omega 6 fatty acids, which help create inflammatory compounds.
Stick with organic coconut oil, extra virgin fresh-pressed olive oil, and ghee from grass-fed cows.
Some people are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar naturally present in milk products. If you’re lactose intolerant, you probably know it already. Symptoms include gas, diarrhoea and bloating after drinking milk or eating dairy products.
Some people who can digest lactose might be sensitive to other components of dairy. Anecdotally, some people with arthritis and related conditions find that avoiding certain foods can reduce flares.
#5. Excessive Alcohol
Science proving that a glass of red wine a day can provide some heart health benefits may seem like a free-for-all permission slip to drink more, but that’s not the case. In addition to alcohol increases blood sugar levels and kicking you out of ketosis, drinking in excess leads to inflammation and weight gain, which begets more inflammation.
Your liver uses the same enzyme – to break down both fat and alcohol. The enzyme was first discovered in its role regarding alcohol so the name stuck.
When presented with the choice to break down a toxin or break down fat, the liver is going to address the toxin first for safety reasons. That means fat gets set aside, literally. This results in fat surrounding the liver and accumulating in your waistline, which creates stress on the liver and your whole system, elevates cholesterol levels, and increases stress-related, inflammatory compounds.
Some people claim that beans and legumes can cause inflammation because they contain lectins which are hard to break down. However soaking, sprouting and cooking beans and legumes can neutralize the lectins and make consuming these foods perfectly safe. Additionally, some people may have a natural sensitivity to beans and legumes, which can cause an inflammatory response. Therefore it’s important to determine how your body responds to each of these.
Food additives that are commonly used to thicken and stabilize processed foods may disrupt the bacterial makeup of the gut, causing health problems. Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavour or enhance taste, appearance, or other sensory qualities. Some additives have been used for centuries as part of an effort to preserve food, for example, vinegar, salt, smoke, sugar, etc. This allows for longer-lasting foods such as bacon, sweets, processed food, ready to eat meals etc.
In a recent animal study, mice that were fed two chemicals that are commonly added to foods gained weight, had altered blood sugar and developed intestinal problems. The chemicals were “emulsifying agents,” chemicals that hold together mixtures that include both fat and water, which would otherwise separate.
Sausage, bologna, salami and hot dogs – oh my. Processed meats pack a lot of inflammation-causing compounds, especially if they made with conventionally raised meats (meats from animals raised on synthetic hormones and antibiotics that were fed an inflammatory, grain-based diet).