7 Foods You Should Avoid to Decrease Inflammation and Pain
The foods that we eat and the things we drink have a tremendous effect on our body chemistry. The things that we eat either bring our body towards an alkaline state (healthy) or an acidic state (unhealthy). If your body moves towards an acidic state then this increases inflammation in the body, which moves us toward pain. If you have existing health conditions like osteoarthritis, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, painful joints, etc., or if you have any pain problems then, eating foods that increase acid and inflammation will create greater pain and dysfunction. When you eat healthy, for example; drinking lots of water, eating more fruits and vegetables then your body moves toward an alkaline state, which will help move you away from pain and inflammation.
The foods we choose to eat will cause an inflammatory response. When our bodies are properly nourished, one can heal quicker, have more energy, and prevent chronic inflammation; thus, prevent and minimize a major cause of chronic pain and disease.
Here is a list of seven top foods to avoid if you are seeking to minimize chronic inflammation and pain:
- Trans Fatty Acids and Hydrogenated Oils
Fried, processed and fast foods usually contain trans fatty acids and hydrogenated oils, which are chemicals that increase levels of bad cholesterol (LDLs) and lower levels of good cholesterol (HDLs). This leads to major causes of heart disease and other inflammatory diseases. Avoiding these foods and foods with ingredients including partially hydrogenated oils can minimize the amount trans fatty acids you consume.
- Refined Sugars
The major ingredient in candies, desserts, snacks, sodas and fruit juices, sugar has many names: high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, sucrose and maltose. Sugar is linked to inflammation, obesity, diabetes and chronic diseases.
Sugar Alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol, glycerol, lactitol, maltitol, and erythritol, have fewer calories than sugar because your body will not completely absorb them. This can lead to abdominal gas and diarrhea if you eat too many foods containing sugar alcohols. It should also be noted that maltitol can spike your blood sugar almost as much as a starchy new potato. Of the sugar alcohols there is one healthy exception: xylitol. Xylitol is a good sugar substitute for people dealing with diabetes, and because it does not convert to acid in your mouth (like sugar does) it can help prevent tooth decay and dry mouth. WARNING: Xylitol can be toxic to dogs and some other animals — even in small amounts.
Artificial Sugars can be just as bad and sometimes worse than refined sugar. You should also avoid aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), Saccharin (Sweet’N Low), sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame potassium, meotame, and other artificial sweeteners. Many of these artificial sweeteners have been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals. You should also be aware that the methanol in aspartame turns into formaldehyde at 86°.
Healthy Sugar Substitutes
Leading the way in healthy sugar substitutes are the herbs Stevia and Lo Han Guo (Luo Han Kuo is an alternative spelling). There is also a Lo Han fruit in China which has been used for centuries. These herbs are sweeter than sugar, and help your body maintain steady blood sugar levels. They taste different than refined sugar, and because they are much sweeter you will need to experiment with them to make your favorite recipes taste exactly as you want them to.
Some companies are now using parts of Stevia to make sweeteners. Truvia is an excellent example. However, we do not yet know the long term effects of Truvia. In nature, Stevia works as a whole, and has been used for centuries. With Truvia, only a part of Stevia is being used (so it can be patented) and we have no long term results yet. It may end up being a great sugar substitute.
News Flash on Honey
While Honey is a natural sweetener, most commercial grade honey (like you buy in the store) is highly processed, pasteurized (nutrients are reduced), and of poor quality. Look for raw, organic honey. Even with raw, organic honey, it is a type of fructose, so it should be used in moderation. But raw honey has other great benefits. Raw honey can be used to help treat bacterial infections, ulcers, diarrhea, sunburn, and even sore throats.
Gluten is a protein found primarily in wheat, barley and rye (most grains). Once thought to harm only individuals with celiac disease, there is more evidence showing that most people have inflammatory reactions to gluten, though the cause is unknown to the individual. Inflammatory reactions like joint pain, rash, constipation, migraines and chronic fatigue are just some of the common reactions individuals can have with gluten sensitivity.
- Many Cooking Oils
Most cooking oils contain high amounts of omega-6 essential fatty acids, which in small amounts combined with omega-3 essential fatty acids are necessary for proper body function. Omega-6 essential fatty acids are found in seeds and grains, peanuts and oils like grape seed, cottonseed, safflower, corn and sunflower oil. The ideal ratio for consumption of these fatty acid is 4:1, omega-6 to omega-3. Today, the typical American diet has a ratio of 15-20:1.
Canola oil deserves special mention because it is actually a made-up word. There are no canola seeds. Canola oil is made from rapeseed. In 1995, Monsanto created a genetically modified version (GMO) and now more than 90% of canola oil is genetically modified. It is also a partially hydrogenated oil which we warned against in point #1 above. Canola oil is also the main ingredient in the popular PAM cooking spray.
The Two Best Oils to Use
Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. While olive oil has a lot of great health benefits, it is not the best cooking oil. When most oils are heated, they literally start to deteriorate chemically. Coconut oil, on the other hand, holds up well under heat. Also, contrary to what you may think, it does not add a coconut taste to your food. So olive oil would be your best oil for salad and the like, and coconut oil would be the best for cooking. Of course, you really want to go organic for the best quality and health benefits.
Honorable mention goes to organic, grass-fed butter. Like olive oil and coconut oil, grass-fed butter is a healthy fat that will actually help you lose weight. Butter is also great for cooking. The key here is grass-fed. The cows providing the butter need to be on a strict grass-fed diet. Grains are extremely bad for cows. Grains will change the omega 6:3 ratio from a healthy ratio as low as 0.16:1 (about the same as fish) to a bad ratio that can be as high as 20:1. It should be noted that a ratio above 4:1 is where health problems start to show up. So, once again, make sure your organic butter is 100% grass-fed. Even “organic” grain is unhealthy to a cow.
Regular high consumption of alcohol is well known to be hazardous to one’s health. It will cause inflammation and irritation of the esophagus, liver and even the larynx. Over a prolonged period of time it can also lead to tumor growth and cancer in the areas that are consistently irritated and inflamed. Practicing moderation in consuming alcohol can allow you to still indulge while avoiding more serious effects.
- Artificial Food Additives
It has been shown that ingredients such as aspartame and MSG contain chemicals that are potentially toxic to the nervous system, however it is also seen throughout reports that these chemicals also increase inflammation and bouts of pain in people with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Feedlot Raised Meat (Grain-Fed Meat)
Due to the conditions animals are raised in commercial meat production, the products are lower quality, contain less nutrition and have more inflammatory effects on our bodies. Commercial animals are typically grain-fed and kept in tight enclosures, causing them to have not only excess fat (therefore more saturated fat in our food products), but also diets high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, many are injected with hormones and antibiotics in efforts to prevent disease and promote growth. These practices contribute to inflammation of the animal that can affect the consumer as well. A grain diet will turn acidic in the cow’s first stomach which will harm the liver and kidneys, so cows receive low-grade antibiotics when on a grain diet. As mentioned above in #4 when we were talking about butter, grain diets will change the omega 6:3 ratio in the meat you are eating, making it unhealthy.
Utilizing grass-fed meat will give you many more health benefits and help prevent additional inflammation.
Advantages of Grass-Fed vs. Grain-Fed Beef
- Steak 400% more Vitamin A (as beta carotene)
- 400% more Vitamin E
- Branch-chain amino acids
- 2-4 times richer in heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids
- Lower in “bad” saturated fats, and higher in “good” unsaturated fats
- Richer taste
- Fewer calories (up to 100 calories less for a 6-ounce steak)
- 3-5 times higher in CLA (Conjugated Linoleum Acid) which assists in weight loss
The Key to Any Diet
The key in any diet is moderation, maximizing the healthy, vitamin and nutrient dense foods to nourish and fuel our bodies for the demands of everyday life. When you minimize the amount of inflammation occurring in the body, you can more effectively manage pain levels. Speak with your doctor of chiropractic for more information on other causes of inflammation in the body.
Inflammation & Pain
Inflammation and pain are common occurrences for many people who are diagnosed with chronic disease; however, many others suffer from these common ailments daily. When looking at your body and health as a complete system, your diet should be one of the first things to consider.
Inflammation is a fundamental response of the body to disease and injury, typically exhibiting signs of pain, heat, redness and swelling. The body’s response is defensive, sending immune cells through increased blood flow (which is the reason for heat, redness and swelling) to the areas that need support. Chronic inflammation, caused by offensive chemicals in the body repeatedly, means that the body constantly produces immune cells to fight off the intruders. This response leads to dangerous results, as the overproduction of immune cells leads to conditions such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and arthritis.
Chronic inflammation is caused by many things commonly found in today’s American society. Inhaling polluted air, experiencing large amounts stress, and being overweight are just some of the culprits for chronic pain and inflammation. These are often caused by lifestyle choices such as smoking, lack of exercise and proper sleep, and a poor diet. The foods we choose to eat can cause an inflammatory response. When our bodies are properly nourished, one can heal quicker, have more energy and prevent chronic inflammation; thus, prevent and minimize a major cause of chronic pain and disease.
If you are having problems dealing with pain and inflammation, contact the doctors at Kempsville Chiropractic at 757.467.5258 to arrange for a consultation. If you feel any of your friends and family can benefit from this article, please recommend it to them.
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