In the Western diet there are many food products that could potentially be pro-inflammatory foods. This is because the Western diet is filled with food products that are unnatural and this stimulates a negative response from the immune system. It’s also because certain food products are overconsumed, in much larger portions than is healthy, and on too frequent a basis.
Foods that were meant to be eaten in moderation, meaning occasionally, are now consumed every day, 3 times a day or perhaps even more, and the body does not respond well to this attack. Although we might be clueless as to why our health is deteriorating, the body is intelligent enough to know that these foods aren’t right for our bodies. That’s why we are seeing more and more pro-inflammatory conditions arise!
To decrease inflammation you will do very well to first eliminate these 5 pro-inflammatory foods from your diet.
Sugar comes in many different forms and is your biggest enemy when it comes to inflammation as it provides no nutritional value. Therefore you need to avoid all forms of sugar. Of course we most commonly know it as sugar. But it is hidden in many things such as biscuits, cakes, sweets, cereals, pies, crackers, ready made meals, ice creams, packet foods, tinned foods, bottled and jarred goods. Sugar is hidden in many, many things and comes under many different names that we may not even recognise.
The list below shows some of the names sugar can come under. Be sure to familiarize yourself with these so you are informed for grocery shopping.
2. Refined and Processed Grains
Refined products have no fibre and have a high glycemic index that essentially makes them equally as bad as sugar. They are empty of nutrients and rapidly increase inflammation in the body. Refined and processed grains are everywhere: white rice, white flour, white bread, white pasta, pastries, cakes, microwave meals, crackers, biscuits, and so forth. Try and replace with minimally processed grains and other anti-inflammatory foods.
3. Common Cooking Oils
Cheap oils are very high in omega 6 fatty acids, which promotes inflammation through the production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. Too much omega 6 also prevents the powerful omega 3 anti-inflammatory fatty acids from converting, as both types of fatty acids compete for the same enzymes.
Common cooking oils to avoid include: safflower, soy, sunflower (if organic it is a better option), corn, cottonseed, peanut, rice bran, vegetable oil, canola oil, and all types of margarine.
4. Trans Fats
Trans fats increase bad cholesterol, promote inflammation, obesity and resistance to insulin. They are in fried foods, fast foods, commercially baked goods, and items prepared with partially hydrogenated oil, margarine and vegetable oil. Even a small amount of trans fats can be bad so eliminate products and foods containing trans fats.
5. Artificial Food Additives and Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are to be avoided. These include aspartame (aka Equal and Nutrasweet), saccharin (aka Sweet N Low), and acesulfame K (aka Sweet One). Artificial food additives can trigger inflammatory responses. There are many of them but some that are more common include: MSG (monosodium glutamate), hydrolysed vegetable protein, food colouring, glutamate, parabens, yeast and so forth.
The impact and effect of many food additives and preservatives on our health is largely unknown. However, given that anything that is ‘unnatural’ can act like a stimulus to the immune system, it is logical to assume that most additives and preservatives are best avoided, particularly if there are lots of them combined in one food product. Avoid numbers as much as possible by choosing fresh anti-inflammatory foods.
If you follow this list and start reducing and elminating these key pro-inflammatory foods, you will be well on your way to feeling better 🙂
Nutritionist & Health Coach
P.S. Check Out my Anti-Inflammatory Diet Plan and reduce inflammation in weeks!