Certain foods are highly inflammatory. Considering that inflammation is an immune response and 70 percent of our immune system cells are in our gut, it’s easy to understand the effect of diet.
Inflammation is beneficial in the short term (it helps your wounds and infections heal), but when it becomes chronic, it contributes to disease and exacerbates pain.
Here are 5 categories of food that directly influence inflammation and therefore contribute to higher levels of pain.
Cookies, candy, ice cream, brownies, doughnuts … all of these are loaded with sugar, which drives up your blood sugar and insulin, along with levels of inflammatory messengers called cytokines.
2. Refined Flour – Bagels, Muffins and Pasta
Any member of the refined carbohydrate family – white bread, muffins, pasta, bagels, etc. – drives up inflammation due to the same reasons as sugar. In fact, there’s not much difference between refined carbs like a bagel and a heaping serving of sugar, as far as your body is concerned.
3. Synthetic Trans Fats
These make the list because they’re a common source of synthetic trans fats, which come from foods that contain partially hydrogenated oil. Trans fats are strongly linked to systemic, chronic inflammatio … and are so bad for you that the Institute of Medicine recommends you simply keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.
French fries are by no means the only culprit; trans fats are also commonly found in savory snacks (like microwave popcorn), frozen pizzas, cake, cookies, pie, margarine and spreads, ready-to-use frosting, and coffee creamers.
4. Blackened or Barbecued Foods
Any time a food is cooked at high temperature (this includes foods that are broiled, fried, grilled, blackened, barbecued, etc.), toxic advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are formed. AGEs are readily absorbed by your body, where they wreak havoc, causing high levels of inflammation. While grilling, frying and broiling your food is known to increases AGEs, stewing, boiling, braising, crock pot or steaming will instead help minimize the amount formed in your food.
5. Vegetable Oils (Polyunsaturated)
Soybean, corn, peanut, safflower and sunflower oils are examples of vegetable oils that are rich in omega-6 fats, which most Americans consume far too much of (pick up any processed food in your pantry and you’ll probably see soybean oil or corn oil on the label). Excess omega-6 fats are highly inflammatory, which is why it’s important to limit the amount of vegetable oils you consume.
Diet is loaded with emotion, habit, pleasure…take this information gently and if you are one of the many who suffer with chronic pain, consider weighing the challenges and benefits of diet change with the pleasures and pain of continuing the status quo.