Do you suffer from Arthritis or other inflammatory conditions? Did you know that inflammation not only occurs in the obvious areas such as your joints, but inflammation can also occur at the gut level in your intestines as well. Intestinal inflammation can be triggered by allergies, bacteria or other toxins introduced into the colon and certain foods we eat can play a vital role in either causing inflammation or reducing it.
When you have arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, your body is in a chronic inflammatory state. What you eat may not only increase inflammation, but it can also set you up for other chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Let’s first talk about why inflammation happens.
Anytime your body detects something foreign (or anything that shouldn’t be there), trauma or infection, etc. your immune system kicks in to do the job it was designed to do: to help battle against that foreign object or trauma for one to get rid of it (especially if it’s not supposed to be there) and secondly, to start the healing process. We’ve witnessed this immediate response with sudden trauma when we have a scratch or twist our ankle and we see redness or swelling at the site or with chronic conditions such as Arthritis and constant knee pain and swelling. You can thank your immune system for this. That’s basically a bunch of immune cells and increased blood supply charging to the area in attempt to start healing the area. Unfortunately for us, with this also brings about the swelling and pain associated with it….aka inflammation.
One primary protein (bc protein is needed for healing) that is released with this response is called Cytokine. Just like with most enzymes and hormones, they occur naturally in the body and serve a great purpose. But again, just like with most hormones, too much of it can get our body out of whack and we start suffering the consequences of this overflow.
How does eating certain foods cause inflammation?
When we eat certain foods containing preservatives, sugar, or other “foreign” substances that our body knows shouldn’t be there, or even with food allergies that trigger that inflammatory/immune response, Cytokine is released and begins to signal the immune system making the huge announcement that the body has been invaded.
Those troops (or immune cells) go to war on your behalf to fight off those foreign substances which in turns causes inflammation for you.
What can you eat or not eat to reduce inflammation?
So it’s no wonder if we are constantly invading our body with these foreign substances, our immune troops are definitely tired and over worked and our body remains in a chronic inflammatory state.
The good news is you can lower your risk of inflammation and arthritis pain and rid your body of those foreign enemies with a more natural response and that’s with the food you put in it.
Here are the top foods that trigger Cytokine release and can be responsible for your Arthritis flare ups and inflammation.
When we eat too much sugar, our body can’t process that excess quickly enough which will increase cytokine release. But not only does sugar trigger cytokine response, it also suppresses the effectiveness of germ-killing cells ability, weakening our immune system and making us more susceptible to infectious and chronic diseases.
More sugar = the need for more sugar. One of your body’s goals is to get glucose into your brain cells—to feed those brain cells so that they can function. But inflammation in your body prevents sugar from getting to those cells, so you end up wanting more glucose, eating more sugary foods, which then increases inflammation and starts the whole cycle again.
A study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that overweight participants who ate a low-GI diet reduced levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein whereas participants on a high GI diet did not.
Related: I take this antioxidant which also has studies proving it reduces that same inflammatory marker C-reative protein by 51%.
Saturated Fats (including vegetable oils, mayo, pizza, salad dressings and chips)
Vegetable oils have a high concentration of the inflammatory fat, omega-6, and are low in the anti-inflammatory fat, omega-3. Trans fat can be found in fast foods and other fried products, processed snack foods, frozen breakfast products, cookies, donuts, crackers and most stick margarines. Avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient labels.
Related: I take this Omega 3 fish oil to naturally reduce inflammation.
White flour products (breads, rolls, crackers) white rice, white potatoes (instant mashed potatoes, or french fries) and many cereals are refined carbohydrates. Because these refined wheat flours have been stripped of their fiber and nutrients, they quickly raise the blood sugar and stimulate inflammation.
The more quickly your body digests high-sugary foods, like these carbs, the faster your blood sugar levels can spike, which also spikes your insulin level…which not only promotes inflammation but also causes your body to store fat.
While a moderate intake of yogurt can actually help decrease inflammation with its gut-healing probiotics, dairy is also a source of inflammation-inducing saturated fats. Ironically, certain dairy foods can decrease our naturally occurring healthy or “good” intestinal bacteria which are key players in reducing inflammation. Furthermore, dairy is a common allergen that can trigger the inflammatory response.
It is estimated that as much as 15% of the US population is gluten intolerant.
Wikipedia defines Gluten (from Latin gluten, “glue”) as a mixture of proteins found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.
Now a few key words I want you to notice in this definition: “glue”, “elasticity” and “chewy”….so in other words, gluten is the glue that binds it all together. Just picture what forms when you mix water with flour = a gummy paste. Hola! No wonder we all have so many digestive issues.
Gluten is everywhere so read your labels (gluten is even found in soy sauces). Gluten is not only a huge trigger causing the release of Cytokine, but also can cause damage the small intestine causing more trauma and a more vicious cycle of chronic inflammation.
Related: Read my article Warning Signs You Could Be Gluten Sensitive
Artificial Sweeteners and Preservatives
This list could quickly become an endless list of preservatives, colorings, and the thousands of artificial flavorings injected into our foods these days. As obvious foreign attackers cause a huge war against ourself and puts our body in danger, our body is doing exactly what it was designed to do and that’s to do its best to rid our body of what we are doing to it.
While the world continues to focus on “dieting”, portion control and counting points and calories (regardless of where those calories come from), if we would focus just as much effort on eating for better health and reducing inflammation, we would naturally see a reduction in the disease and obesity crisis and we would become healthier and lose weight in the process.
The biggest predictor of health is the food you’re putting in your body.