5 Worst Foods to Eat If You Have Inflammation

While inflammation can be a good thing when it protects your body from an injury, too much of it can cause chronic inflammation, which can lead to health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

Fortunately, there are ways to fight inflammation with your diet. According to Drip Runner, focus on foods that contain helpful antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients.

1. Sugar

Inflammation is a common condition that is linked to many major health issues such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce inflammation and improve your health through a healthy diet and lifestyle choices.

One of the worst foods to eat if you have inflammation is sugar. It is the most common cause of chronic inflammation and is associated with increased risks of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

While many of us are familiar with table sugar, which is a disaccharide made of two monosaccharides—fructose and glucose—other forms of sugar include dextrose, maltose, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). These are hidden on food labels under their respective names, but they are all bad for you.

If you do have a sweet tooth, opt for natural sugars like stevia, honey, or blackstrap molasses instead of added sugar. They will help you keep your cravings in check and provide vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber that you won’t find in refined sugary foods and drinks.

Another way to avoid added sugar is by tracking how much you eat on a daily basis and then cutting back. This will help you stay within the recommended range of 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for women and nine teaspoons for men.

It is also important to look out for artificial sweeteners on the label as these can be worse than refined sugar and have been found to increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer. They are also linked to an increased risk of heart disease and liver damage. To be safe, limit yourself to no more than 3 servings a day of artificial sweeteners.

2. Carbs

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, but it can also lead to long-term health problems. This is often the result of an autoimmune disorder or a number of lifestyle factors, including exposure to toxins.

Chronic inflammation can worsen and even trigger other medical conditions, such as cancer and type 2 diabetes. It’s a key reason why many doctors recommend patients follow an anti-inflammatory diet.

Carbohydrates are sugar molecules that the body uses for energy. The trick is to eat them in moderation and choose whole-grain alternatives, such as brown rice, oats, and quinoa.

Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, cookies, and desserts, can increase your blood sugar levels. This can cause inflammation by triggering your insulin production, which in turn increases C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker that’s linked to a wide range of diseases.

High glycemic carbs can also increase your risk of obesity and excess weight. These types of carbs increase the amount of fat in your body, which can further worsen inflammation.

Fast-food items such as fries and burgers are full of saturated fats. These fats can contribute to the buildup of fatty plaque in your arteries, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and other health issues.

Processed meats like hot dogs and sausage contain nitrates, which can aggravate inflammation. Nitrates are naturally occurring compounds made of nitrogen paired with two or three oxygen atoms.

Trans fats, which are found in processed foods, chips, baked goods, and frozen pizza, can also trigger inflammation by raising your cholesterol levels. They’re also a major source of Omega-6 fatty acids, which are pro-inflammatory.

Choosing smart carbohydrates, such as whole grains and starchy vegetables, can help you avoid inflammation. You’ll also want to eat plenty of fruits and veggies, which are rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber.

3. Vegetable Oils

Inflammation is a common problem for many people, and it can have serious health effects, including heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s important to reduce inflammation as much as possible to help your body function at its best.

Unfortunately, the most common vegetable oils we cook with have high levels of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and dismally low amounts of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. The average American diet has a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids of 15:1, which is extremely unhealthy and has been linked to an increased risk of many diseases.

These oils are highly unstable and can easily oxidize when used frequently for cooking or when exposed to heat sources, such as microwaves. This process can also promote atherosclerosis, according to research.

Fortunately, there are some alternative vegetable oils that have been shown to have positive health benefits. These include coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, and avocado oil.

Another important factor to consider when selecting vegetable oils is how they are stored. Ideally, they should be stored in a cool place away from heat sources and with the cap tightly closed to avoid oxidation.

Vegetable oils are made from complex mixtures of triacylglycerols (TAGs; usually > 95%), fatty acids, and minor components, such as tocopherols/tocotrienols and phytosterol esters/phytosterols.

Most vegetable oils contain the more stable monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which only have one double bond. These are considered good fats, as long as they are consumed in moderation.

However, there are some vegetable oils that contain higher levels of saturated fatty acids. These are often labeled as “zero trans-fat” but can actually contain a significant amount of trans fats. These oils can be found in margarine, ice cream, cookies, and other processed foods.

4. Meat

Inflammation is your body’s normal response to injury, infection, or allergens, allowing your immune system to protect your organs. It’s an important function, but when inflammation gets out of control, it can cause a range of health issues.

If you have a chronic condition or are worried about your health, talk to your doctor or dietitian about ways to reduce inflammation in your diet. They may recommend a more anti-inflammatory approach to eating that includes foods that reduce inflammation, such as antioxidants and polyphenols.

The most common culprits of inflammation are sugar, refined carbs, inflammatory fats, and processed meats. These irritants trigger the release of inflammatory chemicals in your body, raising your risk for heart disease, cancer, and other health conditions.

White rice, pasta, and bread made from white flour are also known to increase inflammation. These refined grains have a lot of fiber removed, so they get digested and turned into sugar much faster (higher on the glycemic index) than whole grains.

Foods high in saturated fats, such as greasy red meat and butter, are another inflammatory culprit. To fight the problem, opt for lean meats and low-fat dairy products, instead of fatty, processed cuts.

Some studies have found that adding more fermented foods to your diet can decrease inflammation and improve your gut microbiome’s diversity. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, and yogurt, contain “good bacteria,” or probiotics, that help your immune system respond to the stress of everyday life more efficiently.

Eating a balanced diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is the best way to keep inflammation at bay and prevent a variety of health problems. It’s easy to add more healthy choices to your daily routine if you take the time to plan your meals and shop smartly for the week.

5. Dairy

Whether you have an acute inflammation issue or chronic low-grade inflammation, the right foods to eat can help keep it in check. However, you’ll want to limit the ones that worsen it.

Inflammation is one of the body’s natural defense mechanisms, and it can help you heal injuries or illnesses. But when it goes on too long and starts to disrupt your body’s functions, it can cause problems like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis.

It’s a good idea to reduce your intake of foods that can exacerbate your inflammation, says Mari Anoushka Ricker, M.D., a Harvard Medical School-trained dietitian and author of “Healthy Inflammation: A New Approach to Preventing and Reversing Disease”.

The anti-inflammatory nutrients that can help you stay healthy come from many sources. For instance, omega-3 fats from fish, which are commonly found in salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel, inhibit the release of compounds that trigger inflammation. They also are high in a substance called butyrate, which is anti-inflammatory and can protect your heart and brain.

Other anti-inflammatory foods include fiber in legumes, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables that fuel beneficial microorganisms in your intestines. These organisms convert the fiber into butyrate, an anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acid that helps lower your risk for heart disease and brain damage.

The best approach to reducing inflammation is to avoid the worst foods and eat more anti-inflammatory ingredients that can help you stay healthy and strong. This can include foods such as a plant-based diet, olive oil, and fatty fish, along with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. And remember that exercise is also an important component of a healthy lifestyle.

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