If you’ve heard the word “inflammation” thrown around a lot, but still find yourself confused as to what exactly it is, and why it’s bad, you’re not alone. Even though inflammation is a true symptom, these days, it’s used to do everything from sell products to promote certain types of diets.
The truth of the matter is, a little bit on inflammation is healthy. Inflammation is what happens when the body senses that something is up, and rushes to fix it. For example, if you’re stung by a bee or scratch yourself, the area usually becomes red and “inflamed,” while your immune system rushes to figure out how best to heal. This is inflammation working as it should.
The problem is when your body’s inflammation response starts to happen on a constant basis, due to diet or stress. Chronic inflammation can cause all sorts of issues in the body, whether it’s skin breakouts or rashes, or a dilapidated intestinal tract. If you’ve found yourself suffering from certain chronic issues but can’t seem to find the cause, you may want to take a hard look at your diet.
Even foods that are deemed “healthy” can cause inflammation, which is why we’ve created the list below. If you’re trying to clean up chronic inflammation, the more of these you can eliminate from your daily menu, the better.
Diet Soda (And Other “Sugar-Free” Foods)
In large amounts, aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in over “4,000 products worldwide,” can affect the brain. People who are sensitive to aspartame and who drink a few diet sodas a week can trigger an immune system upheaval that causes an inflammatory response.
Vegetable And Nut Oils
Even though Omega-6 fatty acids are necessary for our bodies (and hormones especially) to function, an overabundance of Omega-6 can force the immune system to produce “pro-inflammatory” compounds. Because of this, limiting the intake of corn, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, soy, peanut, and vegetable oils is recommended.
Agave may be a natural sugar, but that doesn’t stop it from creating the same type of inflammation refined sugar causes. Agave has a fructose level of around 90 percent, which is darn high, and too much fructose can subdue white blood cells, opening up the body to infections. There’s even been studies showing that an overabundance of fructose can cause wrinkles and skin damage.
Low-Fat Frozen Yogurt / Dairy
Dairy can cause a lot of inflammation, from breakouts to bloating to severe gastronomical distress, and highly-processed “skim” milk may actually cause more inflammation. While low-fat desserts like frozen yogurt certainly have less fat than traditional ice cream, the sugar and dairy in most varieties make it a keen source of inflammation. It’s long been debunked that diary is the best way to get calcium, which means that skipping that glass of milk or opting for a non-dairy dessert won’t set your bone strength back at all!
Barley And Rye (And Other Gluten)
Like dairy, gluten can be an extreme source of inflammation for many people, and can have many of the same symptoms. Even though barley and rye are healthy grains unto themselves, they do contain gluten, and can cause inflammation in people who are sensitive (this includes alcohol made from these grains, like whiskey. beer and occasionally vodka).
Many people opt for seasoning mixes when they’re trying to add flavor to their food while avoiding things like butter, but if your seasoning mix has a long line of ingredients you can’t pronounce, you may want to steer clear. Certain mixes (like taco seasoning, for example), contain a lot of sugar, as well as artificial colors and ingredients. Some may even contain MSG, a big inflammation culprit. When buying seasoning shakers and packets, make sure you can pronounce everything on the label.
This popular meat substitute is widely used in the vegan world, but it’s worth noting that seitan is typically made entirely from wheat gluten, which can cause everything from a slightly upset stomach to severe IBS, stemming from inflammation in the intestinal tract.