Posted on Nov 20, 2019, 4 p.m.
Inflammation has been said to be the silent killer. Depending on the situation inflammation isn’t always bad, on the one hand it is the body’s natural way of protecting itself from sickness and injury, but on the other hand chronic and sustained inflammation is linked to increased risk of disease. Whether you know it or not, it is silent and can be deadly, and the food you eat can affect inflammation in your body.
Foods that are high in sugar and high fructose corn syrup are two of the main sweet culprits that promote inflammation, and table sugar and HFCS are the 2 main types of sugar in the Western diet. Sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose while HFCS is about 45% glucose and 55% fructose. Added sugar supplies an excess amounts of fructose which has been linked to inflammation, insulin resistance, fatty liver disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease; and fructose is also believed to cause inflammation within the endothelial cells which line blood vessels and is a risk factor for heart disease. Common foods high in added sugars include, soft drinks, cookies, donuts, candy, sweet pastries, and certain cereals.
Artificial trans fats have been shown to be the least healthiest fats one can eat, these are created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats, and these are often listed as being partially hydrogenated oils on ingredient labels. Most margarines contain trans fat, which is often added to processed foods to extend shelf life, and they have been shown to cause inflammation as well as increased risk for diseases. Artificial trans fats lower LDL cholesterol levels and impair function of endothelial cells lining the arteries to increase the risks for heart disease. Common foods high in trans fats include fried fast foods, french fries, some microwave popcorn, certain margarines and vegetable shortening, packaged cakes and cookies, some pastries, and all processed foods that list containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils on the label.
Consumption of vegetable oils has increased by 130% in American during the 20th century, certain vegetable oils such as soybean promote inflammation due to the high omega-6 fatty acid content. Omega-6 fats are necessary but the typical Western diet provides more than is required. Vegetable and seed oils used for cooking are a major ingredient in many fast foods, ready made, and processed foods.
Truthfully not all carbs are problematic despite the perceived bad rap, as prime example ancient humans consumed higher fiber, unprocessed carbs for millennia in the form of grasses, roots, and fruits. Refined carbs may help to drive inflammation as they have had most of the fiber content removed, and may encourage growth of inflammatory gut bacteria which can increase the risk of obesity, and IBS. Refined carbs have a higher glycemic index which raises blood sugar more rapidly, those with a diet high in these foods are more likely to die from an inflammatory disease such as COPD. Refined carbs can commonly be found in candy, cookies, cakes, soft drinks, pasta, pastries, some cereals, and all processed foods that contain added sugar or flour.
In moderation alcohol can have some benefits, but higher amounts have been shown to lead to severe problems, including addiction. The more a person drinks, the higher the levels of inflammatory marker CRP increases. Those who drink more can develop problems with bacterial toxins moving out of the colon into the body, called leaky gut, which can drive widespread inflammation that leads to organ damage.
Processed meat is associated with an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers as they contain more advanced glycation end products than other meats which are formed by cooking meat at high temperature; and they are known to cause inflammation. Popular types of processed meats include bacon, ham, beef jerky, smoked meat, and sausage.
Inflammation occurs naturally as a response to many triggers, some are hard to prevent such as that from pollution, injury, and sickness. But you do have control over other factors such as what you eat and drink. For optimal health it is best to keep inflammation down and under control as much as possible by minimizing consumption of food/drink that will trigger it, and by choosing to eat more foods that are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.