Are these 5 inflammatory foods affecting your health?
Your body's natural inflammatory response isn't always a bad thing. Our immune systems use this inflammatory response to fight off pathogens, viruses and bacteria. But when inflammation becomes chronic, it can cause damage to the body. If you're suffering from skin eruptions, bloating and puffiness, headaches, cholesterol imbalance and even diseases such as arthritis and heart disease, inflammation could be the culprit.
You may notice the symptoms inflammation causes, but that's really just the tip of the iceberg and it can often be difficult to work out exactly where inflammation is coming from. However foods that cause inflammation can be a major part of the problem, and by removing these foods from our diet we can start to reduce symptoms in the body, returning our bodies to a more balanced state.
So which foods should you avoid if you want to reduce inflammation? We've got 5 foods to consider.
A protein found not only in wheat but also other grains such as rye, gluten is responsible for holding bread together, and it's found in a whole range of baked goods. Whilst gluten isn't necessarily bad for you, most varieties of wheat can be hard for our bodies to digest. When we strip the nutrients from wheat to create white flour, things get even more taxing for our bodies. Bear in mind that starch and gluten are two very different things - starch is a carbohydrate compound which is found in most foods. Gluten-free foods which contain starch include rice, lentils, quinoa and potatoes. Nowadays, gluten-free bread and alternatives to your favourite foods can be found not only in health food stores but also in most supermarkets.
#2. Processed soya
We're not saying that soya is bad for you - on the contrary, it's high in protein and an excellent choice for vegetarians or vegans. However a lot of soya products are highly processed - look out for the tell-tale ingredient 'isolated soy' on your products. Soya products from some countries, such as the USA, will also contain genetically-modified soya. Many crops are sprayed with glyphosate-containing fertiliser which could be carcinogenic. Soya also contains phytic acid, a compound which is hard to digest, and it can make it more difficult for our bodies to absorb zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron. Phytoestrogens in soy can disrupt the endocrine system, affecting your body's hormonal functions.
Many of us struggle to break down the casein which cow's milk contains - it's also inflammatory for most people. With many animals raised on a diet which includes antibiotics and hormones, switching to dairy-free products such as almond or soy milk, yoghurt and cheese can help to reduce inflammation.
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is used in many processed foods to add salty, 'umami' flavour. But MSG is also known to disrupt the nervous system (1) and it's not always clearly labelled. In fact, it can hide under names such as 'autolysed yeast', 'yeast extract', 'hydrolysed protein' or 'natural flavour'. Most packaged foods which come with a flavour sachet - such as instant ramen noodles - are likely to contain MSG.
#5. Processed and refined sugars
Processed and refined sugars have been stripped of their nutrition - they can deplete the body of nutrients and even accelerate the ageing process! Sugar causes inflammation which can lead to diabetes and weight gain - it's even been linked to cancer. It's not just sugar - any ingredients ending in 'ose' and other forms of sugar such as beet sugar, malt syrup, palm sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are all bad news. There's conflicting evidence about the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners on the body - so how can you satisfy your sweet tooth? Use natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, coconut sugar, coconut, raw honey, dried apricots and dates - these all have a number of health benefits for the body.
Reducing inflammation can drastically improve your health and decrease your risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Cutting these 5 foods out (or reducing your intake) whilst increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables can help to prevent inflammatory response for a healthier body.
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