Poor food choices are everywhere. Go through a typical day of any Westernized culture and you probably had coffee with milk and sugar for breakfast, a doughnut on the way to work, fast food for lunch and some type of alcoholic drink with dinner. While hitting up the pound or saver menu at McDonald’s may seem like a good financial decision, the impact that bad food has on your health will catch up sooner or later, most likely in the form of inflammation.
Inflammation and Disease
Damaging inflammation is the underlying cause of many diseases. If left untreated or if the stimulus continues, such as it would in making poor daily food choices, inflammation can last for years.
The body is equipped to handle a small amount of inflammation; however, in many cases this leads to tissue damage. Damaged tissue is repaired by replacement of cells of the same type or connective tissue. In some cases, tissue is not able to be repaired and the inflammation remains.
Diseases Associated with Inflammation
Inflammation may be the cause of such diseases as asthma, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, tendonitis, bursitis, laryngitis, gingivitis, gastritis, otitis, celiac disease, diverticulitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Additionally, a number of chronic diseases have inflammatory components, such as atherosclerosis, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and perhaps even Alzheimer's disease (Drake 2007).
The Top 6 Inflammatory Foods
The following is a list of the top six inflammatory foods, and a list of foods they may be hidden in:
1) Processed sugar.
Present in most packaged and baked foods, soda, sports drinks, condiments such as ketchup, and foods that claim to be healthy, such as granola or nutrition bars. Instead, use your own sugar in a natural form of raw local honey, maple syrup, fruit, and coconut or date sugar.
Like sugar, sodium can be found in most packaged foods and soups in order to extend shelf life. A good rule of thumb is to avoid foods that do not spoil. Although there are exceptions to any rule, it’s also a good idea to avoid canned foods. Research shows that a diet high in salt is associated with enhanced inflammation and targets organ damage by increased albuminuria in treated hypertensive patients independent of any blood pressure effect (Yilmaz et al, 2012).
3) Wheat flour.
Studies show how the daily consumption of wheat products and other related cereal grains could contribute to the manifestation of chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases by triggering inflammation, especially in those with digestive disorders. A better choice for baking is coconut flour, which has health boosting properties for the gut and acts as an anti-inflammatory food.
4) Unhealthy Oils (such as vegetable oil, canola oil, safflower oil, partially hydrogenated oil).
These oils are used in many restaurants because they are cheap. So next time you’re dining out be sure to ask how your food was prepared. A better option is coconut oil, which helps regulate blood sugar, improves digestive health and immune function, and has antimicrobial properties to fight off viruses and bacteria.
5) Cow dairy.
Humans were never meant to consume cow’s milk. In fact, the milk of cows used to make humans sick until people who lived around cows evolved the ability to digest milk as adults (Pollan 2008). A better choice is almond milk, which has an alkalising effect on the body, or coconut milk.
Alcohol intake results in compromised immunity and increased risk of infectious disease. Alcohol is especially irritating to the digestive tract. Water is always the best choice for hydration. In social settings, consider herbal tea, which can be relaxing and healing.
Treating Inflammation with Detoxification
To kick start a healthy nutrition program, consider a detox program to eliminate toxins and re-boot the palate to crave healthier foods.
A juice or smoothie cleanse can give your digestive system a much needed rest and provide instant energy as foods that are already partially broke down are easier absorbed into the blood stream. For added nutrition, consider supplementing with a superfood powder blend to get everything you can out of your cleanse.
Antioxidants are the all stars during a cleanse. They bind to free radicals, or toxins, and prevent them from attaching to other cells, helping to safely remove them from the body via sweat or a bowel movement.
A toxic internal environment can lead to impaired tissue and organ function, which slows down metabolic function. Detoxing is an effective way to eliminate inflammation that may have been stored in the body for months.
Furthermore, a cleanse is a great opportunity to make permanent changes to your diet. After a cleanse, slowly reintroduce healthy solid foods back into your diet. Processed or junk foods should not sit well after a cleanse as you have created a clean slate in your body.
To take full advantage of your new clean start, be sure to fill your diet with foods that fight inflammation, such as green leafy vegetables, coconut oil and avocado.
Drake, V. (2007). Two Faces of Inflammation. Oregon State University.
Karr, J. (2015, January 4). The Top 6 Inflammatory Foods How To Detox From Them.
Pollan, M. (2008). In defense of food: An eater's manifesto. New York: Penguin Press.
Yilmaz, R., Akoglu, H., Altun, B., Yildirim, T., Arici, M., & Erdem, Y. (2012). Dietary salt intake is related to inflammation and albuminuria in primary hypertensive patients. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1214-1218.
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