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Here, we define inflammation, explain its connection to disease and give dietary solutions to help quell inflammation, healing and preventing common health conditions.

Inflammation is at the core of so many diseases and conditions that it might surprise you. But what is inflammation, how does it manifest and what can we do to quell it and lead healthier and pain free lives?

Do you remember the last time you cut yourself? First you experience some pain and maybe some swelling and a slight red coloration. This is what is known as acute inflammation. Parts of our bodies can also get inflamed through a disease process. Any condition ending with "-itis" is generally an inflammatory condition. Some examples include tonsillitis, arthritis and colitis.

Another type of inflammation is known as chronic inflammation. This is a kind of invisible inflammation that can occur anywhere in the body and is brought about mostly by bad diet and stress. Inflammation can cause damage to our cell membrane lipid bi-layer leading to a chain of events that causes other inflammatory chemical to be released within the body, leading to more inflammation, accelerated aging, wrinkles, diabetes, cancer and even increased body fat storage. 

Stress management and diet are the cornerstones of inflammation management and although some people use medical drugs in their disease management, stress and diet should never be overlooked.

What Should You Eliminate From Your Diet?

Processed sugar, refined starch and high glycemic index foods. Insulin resistance, where people are unable to utilize the insulin that they produce to its full potential, is a common problem — especially among obese and overweight people. Insulin is a metabolic hormone produced by the pancreas in response to the food we eat. After we eat a meal, all food (but particularly carbohydrate foods, which include starches, sugars and fruits) gets broken down into a usable form of energy for the body, namely glucose, which feeds our body cells and brains with energy.

Insulin is the hormone responsible for getting the glucose shuttled out of your blood stream and into your cells, where it is burned for energy. Insulin is like the "key that unlocks" the door to your cells, allowing glucose energy to enter. In insulin resistance, this mechanism is functioning sub-optimally at the cellular level, which means blood insulin levels remain high but blood sugar remains high too. The result is an increased risk for diabetes and a propensity towards obesity. Studies have shown that insulin can also cause inflammation and at the same time, inflammation itself can lead to insulin resistance leading to a vicious cycle. 

By reducing our intake of glucose forming foods, or by avoiding foods that cause a faster and larger rise in blood glucose levels, we can help fight insulin resistance. That means out with the sugars, fruit juices, cold drinks, white breads, flours, and baked goods.

Unhealthy fats. Four types of fats are associated with inflammation: saturated fats, arachidonic acid (AA), trans fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids. In excess, the saturated fats and AA's found in animal foods like red meat, chicken skin, egg yolks and full fat dairy can induce a pro-inflammatory state. Trans fats (or hydrogenated fats) are commercially produced fats found in some margarines and baked goods that have also been shown to cause inflammation in the body when taken in excess.

Another type of fat, known as omega-6 (found in margarines, sunflower oil and mayonnaise), can trigger inflammatory responses, especially when taken in higher amounts than the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. If you eat processed foods and cook with oil, it’s likely the omega 6 content of your diet is high. The trick is to avoid baked goods and other trans fat rich foods reduce your intake of animal fats and omega 6 fats.

Allergens. Food allergies are more common than most people think, with some statistics showing up to one in three people suffer from some form of food allergy or intolerance. If one keeps exposing themselves to an allergen, the result is inflammation as the body tries to defend itself from the allergen. The most common food intolerances are:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Yeast
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Oats
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • White fish
  • Shellfish
Food allergy testing and elimination diets are the best ways to diagnose food allergies. 

Nightshade vegetables. Certain vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are members of the nightshade family and contain a compound called solanine that may trigger inflammation in some people.

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