Sugar and processed foods have been found tto be major causes of inflammation. At this holiday season where most of us overindulge in both, this article will help give us insight and perhaps a bit of willpower. According to the Wellness Guide, "Inflammation comes from the Latin word inflammo which means “to ignite”. It is the body’s attempt to protect itself from infection caused by environmental bodies breaking through the immune system that cause harm or irritation. Inflammation is an automatic, biological immune response to the presence of the damaging microorganisms. The goal of the existence of inflammation is to rid the body of damaging stimuli, which includes, irritants, pathogens (bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms that can causes disease) or damaged cells, thus, initiating the healing process. Inflammation starts when an irritation occurs and is immediately followed by the inflammation stage itself. It is then followed by the discharge of pus (or suppuration) and then by granulation, or the formation of wounds in tiny, rounded masses of tissues. An infection is not the equal to an infection even if infections can cause inflammation. Initially, inflammations are essential for healing, however, prolonged inflammations can cause more damage than good to the body. " (1)
"There are at least 8 identified foods that cause inflammation according to the Arthritis Foundation. It may be hard to resist desserts, pastries, chocolate bars, sodas, even fruit juices. However, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition warns that processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Sugar goes by many names so look out for any word ending in “ose,” e.g. fructose or sucrose on ingredient labels." Highly saturated fats are also inflammatory to adipose fats, as are pizza, pasta and grain based desserts. "At Harvard School of Public Health, researchers helped sound the alarm about trans fat in the early 1990s. Known to trigger systemic inflammation, 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." Excess Omega-6 fatty acids, refined carbs, gluten, casein, MSG, alcohol, and aspartame (found in many diet foods and drinks) can all cause inflammation in the body as well." (2)
According to Dr. Axe an anti-inflammatory diet is the way to go. He says, " To move toward an anti-inflammatory diet and anti-inflammatory foods, we primarily move away from the abundance of overly processed, unbalanced diets of the West and toward the ancient eating patterns of the Mediterranean. A Mediterranean diet comprises plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, little to no red meat, certainly no chemicals or meat additives, and an abundance of omega-3 foods. As we look into the anti-inflammatory components of certain foods and herbs, we can see how this kind of diet is linked with lowered inflammation. Among the many compounds found in fresh produce, a few general categories stand out as beneficial when attacking inflammation and inflammatory diseases at their source.
In my research I have found Dr. Axe's site to be most beneficial when adjusting my diet to be a more anti-inflammatory one. I noticed what I eat directly impacts whether I live daily with a pain score of 5, or one of 8.5. Since I hate pain, and am allergic to most pain medications, I choose to eat wholesome anti-inflammatory foods.