Last week we talked about food to add to our diet to improve inflammation and pain. This week we are focused on the foods to avoid or eliminate completely to decrease pain and inflammtion.
Foods to Avoid
Processed foods: Processed food amps up your body’s pain system by inducing inflammation. The typical Western-style diet is heavy on foods that promote inflammation, including highly processed foods, rancid oils, trans-fats and refined carbs. Focus on avoiding foods that come in a package and try to eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.
Omega- 6 fatty acids: Omega 6’s are an essential fatty acid our body needs but cannot make on its own. Ideally, Omega 6’s and Omega-3’s would be consumed in a perfect 1 to 1 balance. Unfortunately, most Americans consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD) eat a ratio of 25-1, Omega 6’s to Omega-3’s. Research shows that a diet high in omega 6 compared to omega 3 leads to chronic inflammation. Omega-6 acids are found in vegetable and corn oils, processed foods and animal fats.
Nightshades: Nightshade vegetables like peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant may trigger arthritis and pain conditions in some people.
White sugar and sweets, including soft drinks and sweetened juices. High sugar consumption leads to increased free radical damage in the body. Processed sugars and other high-glycemic starches (like white flour items, cakes, cookies, bagels, etc) increase inflammation, which can lead to pain, overheating, redness and swelling. Keep your consumption of processed sugars and other high-glycemic starches to a minimum and substitute a rainbow of brightly colored fruit as your “go to” food when you’re craving something sweet. Try to keep your consumption of added sugar to under 4 teaspoons a day.
Trans fats: Trans fats are fats which have been combined with hydrogen atoms to make them more shelf stable. Unfortunately, this process is highly damaging to the fat. Our body was not designed to ingest this industrialized fat so when it is consumed it leads to inflammation of the body’s cell walls. It is imperative to read labels to look for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Be sure to leave trans-fat containing packages on the shelf.