Inflammation hurts. If you have arthritis, an autoimmune disease or some other condition that causes inflammation, then you know it can cause tremendous pain and suffering.
While it may be tempting to reach for the medicine cabinet first, pain medication merely soothes the symptoms. To get to the root of your discomfort and prevent further inflammation, you’ll need to evaluate what’s in your food pantry and refrigerator.
When you consume high amounts of sugar, highly refined carbs, and processed foods, it can cause a sudden spike (and subsequent drop) in blood glucose levels, which activates your body’s systemic stress response. This triggers a normal inflammatory response in the body.
However, when these foods are eaten on a regular basis, the result is ongoing, painful inflammation that begins to affect your daily functions and quality of life.
Not only can some foods you eat cause and trigger inflammation, but others can help reduce it. As a general rule, avoid heavily processed and packaged foods, and opt for a healthy variety of fresh, whole foods.
If you’re ready to get a handle on your pain and inflammation, here are 5 foods to avoid, starting today.
5 Inflammatory-Causing Foods To Avoid
Sugar can be hard to resist. But that breakfast pastry, after-dinner dessert, and sugary soda are not your friends. And even if you don’t have an insatiable sweet tooth, sugar can be hard to avoid. After all, it’s found in everything from juices and cereal to condiments like ketchup.
That’s why it’s important to become a label reader. Sugar is a sneaky culprit and goes by many names on labels, so look out for fructose, sucrose, and corn syrup.
And if you can’t help but sweeten your morning cup of coffee, opt for an anti-inflammatory sweetener like local honey. Contrary to sugar, honey has a long medicinal history and is beloved for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
2. Trans Fats
Trans fats — often listed on labels as partially hydrogenated oil, hydrogenated soybean oil and more — are another cause of inflammation. They are often found in products such as margarine and other processed foods to extend shelf life.
Opt for healthy fats and oils (such as olive oil) instead.
3. Refined Carbohydrates
While carbohydrates are an essential, energy-producing element of any healthy diet, refined carbs can be problematic. Research suggests that consuming refined carbs can increase inflammation as well as the risk of obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and higher blood sugar.
Avoid eating “white” fiber–such as white bread, pasta, rice, and pizza dough. Opt instead for high-fiber, unprocessed carbohydrates such as 100% whole grain bread and pasta, and plenty of fiber-rich beans, vegetables, and fruits.
4. Omega 6 Fatty Acids
While Omega 6 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid that our bodies require, it’s important that they are consumed in moderation and well balanced with Omega 3 fatty acids. In fact, studies suggest that Omega 6 fatty acids can cause inflammation, while Omega 3 helps to reduce it. And while not conclusive, some research suggests that too many Omega 6 fats can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammatory, and autoimmune disease.
These Omega 6 fatty acids are found in everything from fast food, fatty meats, and peanut butter to salad dressings and vegetable, peanut, soy and corn oils.
5. Gluten and Casein
You don’t have to be diagnosed with Celiac Disease for gluten to cause problems in your body. While gluten may not be a problem for everyone, many who suffer from inflammation find relief from cutting out gluten and casein.
Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye and it’s found in many of the foods we eat. Avoiding foods like pasta, bread, crackers, wheat bran, and gluten-based flours can help. Opt for fresh, whole foods and choose gluten-free options when it comes to packaged foods.
Now that you know what to avoid, keep an eye out for our next blog, which will highlight healthy, anti-inflammatory foods to eat more of!