If you’re still eating a Standard American Diet (SAD) then there’s a good chance you are consuming foods that cause inflammation: body “troublemakers” of the worst kind.
Diet-induced inflammation can become lasting, chronic, and very harmful to your body. In fact, chronic inflammation is a major contributing factor to diseases and aging. Proponents of an anti-inflammatory diet believe that certain foods either cause or prevent inflammation. Knowing more about these foods may help you choose a diet that can slow aging and preserve your health longer.
When Does Inflammation Become Harmful?
Inflammation occurs when a part of your body responds to physical trauma, internally or externally. The inflammatory process can be very beneficial for injuries such as a finger cut, where inflammation serves to protect and help repair the wound.
When the body is faced with an ongoing “injury,” however, such as being continually fed a diet of acid-forming foods, lasting inflammation sets in. Healing and repair are not allowed to occur, and more and more forms of inflammation can start to emerge, such as arthritis, sinus problems, fatigue, weight gain, heart disease, kidney stones, ulcers, or cancer.
Major Causes of Chronic Inflammation
The two major triggers of chronic inflammation found in the modern American diet are:
- an imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and
- consumption of too many acidic foods.
Western diets are typically deficient in omega-3 essential fatty acids and contain excessive amounts of omega-6 essential fatty acids. The ideal ratio of these two fatty acids is believed to be in the neighborhood of 1:1, but Americans consume approximately 20-30 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids.
A typical Western diet also includes a lot of foods that are highly acidic, and many experts believe this is a key cause of chronic inflammation. The natural biochemical balance of a healthy body is roughly four parts alkaline to one part acid. In order to maintain this ideal balance, a person needs to consume 75-80% alkaline foods and 20-25% acidic foods.
Common Foods that Trigger Inflammation
In general, the following foods have the most negative impact on your omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio: grain-fed beef, poultry, farmed fish, corn oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil. To increase your intake of desirable omega-3 fatty acids, add walnuts, flaxseed, wild-caught salmon, sardines, and/or grass-fed beef to increase omega-3 fatty acids.
Broad categories of acidic foods that contribute to inflammation include: sugar, artificial sweeteners, gluten, refined grains and dairy. Below is a list of 24 of the most highly acidic and inflammatory “troublemakers” you might want to limit or rule out entirely:
- Bottled fruit juices
- Boxed cereals
- Corn chips
- Diet soda
- French fries
- French toast
- Fried chicken
- Heated oils
- Most protein bars
- Most sports drinks
- Potato chips
- Roasted nuts
- Toaster pastries
- White bread
- White potatoes
- Yogurt-covered nuts and fruits
Consuming too many acid-forming foods like those listed above overtaxes your body by causing your kidneys, skin and lungs to pull calcium, potassium and magnesium from your bones and tissues, in order to bring your pH into balance. Your muscles are even tapped into for their alkalizing amino acids. In a nutrient-depleted state, your body is then ripe for problems like joint inflammation, inflamed organs or urinary tract infections.
Alkaline Foods that Can Reduce Inflammation
Many health practitioners suggest an alkaline diet as the best way to reduce damaging chronic inflammation. A diet of 75-80% alkaline foods is widely recommended to help with a number of inflammatory health conditions. An anti-inflammatory, alkaline diet should include:
- Fruits like apples, apricots, avocados and bananas
- Gluten-free grains like amaranth, brown rice and quinoa
- Leafy greens like spinach and kale
- Vegetables like broccoli, cucumber and asparagus
Alkalizing foods like the ones listed above, and here, can help your body begin to heal and repair from inflammation caused by too many acidic foods.
Tips for Keeping Inflammation in Check
Sometimes, it can be difficult to maintain a strict alkaline diet. In order to keep the inflammatory “troublemaker” foods from getting the upper hand, here are some helpful tips:
- Avoid overeating at mealtime. Large meals and overeating tend to heighten inflammation, so eat smaller meals, even if you have to eat a little more often throughout the day.
- Eat as many raw vegetables as you can for their optimum alkaline benefit, along with the intact enzymes they provide. If you cook vegetables, cook them lightly in order to preserve as many nutrients as possible.
- Try an alkaline-diet, “superfood” supplement. Look for one that contains no wheat, yeast, egg, dairy, MSG, animal products, alcohol or preservatives. These supplements contain concentrated forms of alkalizing fruits, vegetables and herbs to help you flush toxins and unwanted acids out of your body.
- Add fresh-squeezed lemon juice to purified water (to taste) and drink several glasses throughout the day.
When you develop the habit of eating alkaline, and avoiding foods that cause inflammation, body “troublemakers” will be a thing of the past.
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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.