10 Foods That Make Inflammation Worse
When it comes to staying healthy and pain-free, chronic inflammation is pretty much your enemy. It plays a role in a host of conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and it also contributes to sore joints—the kind that's associated with many forms of arthritis, including the osteo and rheumatoid types.
While medication (especially anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen) can ease everyday aches, lifestyle choices matter, too. Reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and staying active all help, but changing your diet is especially crucial (see exactly what you should be eating to get off your diabetes meds for good with Rodale's ). To stop fanning the flames within, start loading up on whole, unprocessed foods, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and spices such as garlic, ginger, and turmeric. Meanwhile, you'll want to cut way back on these 10 damaging items.
It's hard to choose a side salad in the face of French fries, but your body will thank you every time you do. While you're at it, skip the fried fish and chicken fingers. Research from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai shows that when people cut out fried food, markers of inflammation in their body diminish, too. (Try these healthy baked fries instead.)
"Foods that are high in refined flour produce pro-inflammatory signals like cytokines," says Victoria J. Drake, PhD, manager of the micronutrient information center at the Linus Pauling Institute. And while white bread is certainly a major source of refined flour in the American diet, it's far from the only one. Most packaged snacks are loaded with it, which is why Drake and other experts urge a ditching them in favor of whole foods.
Whether your pleasure is hazelnut or French vanilla, you're probably getting more than you bargained for when you pour that creamer into your coffee. The main problem here is trans fat—a known trigger of inflammation. And just because the label reads "zero grams trans fat" doesn't mean you're safe; food manufacturers are allowed to say that as long as the product contains less than half a gram of trans fat per (teeny tiny) serving. "No one ever measures how much coffee creamer they are taking," says Lori Zanini, RDN, CDE, an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. Always read the ingredients list; "partially hydrogenated oil" is code for trans fat.
Refined flour plus tons of sugar is a surefire way to spur your body to produce those pro-inflammatory signals, according to Drake. Watch out for other pastries, like cookies and cakes, as well.
Even though saturated fat has been getting some positive press lately, there's no green light to binge on bacon. "Processed saturated fat, the kind in bacon, hot dogs, and bologna, also contributes to inflammation," says Zanini.
Plain yogurt is generally a dietician-approved kind of food, but when you start adding fruity flavors to the mix trouble ensues. "All yogurt has lactose, a kind of milk sugar," says Caspero. What you really want to watch out for is an excess of added sugar, which might be listed as brown rice syrup, agave, molasses, etc. "Some manufacturers use a lot of different kinds of sugar to prevent any one type of sweetener from appearing high up on the ingredients list," says Caspero. The best way to play it safe: Opt for the plain stuff and swirl in some fresh fruit.
Video: Stop the 5 Causes of Inflammation: FAST!
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