May 24, 2024

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Red Hot Food

Inflammatory Foods: Gas on the Fire

In my previous article entitled Inflammation… It’s A Crock. I discussed how inflammation cooks the body just like an egg or a piece of meat in a crock pot. This article is a follow up to describe the particular foods that can put gas on that fire and speed the degeneration of tissues and organs in the body. This can lead to increased back pain and joint pain as well as other damages as you will see. I will keep the list of foods short and sweet (no pun intended) so that changes in your diet will be easier to remember.

The Three Major Gas Sources (no not that type of gas)

1) Sugar: Sugar in the blood in the wrong amounts adversely affects our hormones especially insulin. So do not eat simple sugars in large amounts and focus on carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. It is important to note that grains and breads are sugars as well and increase blood sugar and also increase insulin response. So limit the amounts of breads and starchy foods as much as you can. Try if you can to stick to whole grains as they are more anti-inflammatory but can be a problem because of the gluten content which in some people can cause even more problems. If you would like a starchy food, potatoes are our best choice – sweet, red, white and yams.

2) Meats: Protein should be consumed with each meal as they create a balance with the carbohydrates and help keep blood sugars regulated but try to eat fish or grass fed beef or lamb and try to avoid the fatty meats. The main reason that meats can be bad is that there are two pathways for the omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids to go. The omega 3 fatty acids found primarily in fish go a non inflammatory pathway and actually reduces inflammation but the omega 6 fatty acids can go two pathways and one of these is very inflammatory so obviously fish is a good source of protein.

Diets that are low in Omega 3 and high in Omega 6 fatty acids will tend to result in higher levels of inflammation especially if the diet lacks key important nutrients such as magnesium and B vitamins. Remember that both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are in fact essential fatty acids and are both necessary for the body to function properly. The American diet can have an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio as high as 20:1 or even 40:1, A healthier Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio is around 4:1 or as low as 2:1. As you can see, a healthy diet still has more Omega 6 fatty acids than Omega 3 fatty acids but certainly not the ratio that we commonly see in our diets here in the US.

3) Vegetables oils: (soybean, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, peanut oil and cottonseed oil), and trans fats found in nearly all packaged food and deep fried foods like french fries. Push the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 the wrong way so are damaging to your inflammatory levels as described above.

The human body is altered when we eat the wrong foods and in the wrong combinations. Biochemical and inflammatory damage occurs in tissues when we eat a diet that is deficient in fruits and vegetables, and contains excess sugar, meats, vegetables oils (not olive oil), and trans fats found in nearly all packaged food and deep fried foods like french fries. The inflammation associated with a poor diet can initially start without symptoms, so it is very hard to detect, however, over time, this chronic, diet-driven inflammation can lead to the chronic diseases that plague all of us, causing chronic aches, pains and endless suffering. Every time you eat the wrong foods, you create inflammation in your body that will slowly but surely lead to chronic pain, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and many others. So your diet and supplements are key in preventing and treating this problem. In short, we need to eat vegetables and grass fed meats and fish and take appropriate supplements (like Omega 3 supplements) and reduce our consumption of sugars and grains, bad oils and the wrong meats and we need to exercise more… these are the things we need to do to promote an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.