Acute inflammation, like you have when you twist a knee for example, is obvious. The swelling and red skin make it impossible to ignore.
But there’s another type of inflammation. And unlike acute inflammation which exists to help your body heal, this other kind is dangerous.
Chronic systemic inflammation is associated with premature aging. And it lies at the heart of most major diseases including dementia, allergies, age-related macular degeneration and cancer.
Experts believe conquering chronic inflammation will help reign in most major diseases. In some cases, it could cure them.
And researchers even have a good idea how we can do it.
3 foods which trigger chronic inflammation
It all starts with diet. Certain foods can promote chronic inflammation, while others fight it.
Following are three you may have in your kitchen right now that can ramp up inflammation.
Fond of jelly and toast? Keep reading. Because sugar is, arguably, the biggest driver of chronic inflammation there is. And, of course, jelly is swimming in the stuff.
A stack of studies has linked the sugar to inflammation. And according to experts, the sweet stuff causes the body to produce cytokines, the compounds which trigger inflammation.
Reduce the jelly and other sugar-laced foods in your diet such as candy, pastries, barbecue sauce, spaghetti sauce and even salad dressings. Read labels carefully. The less added sugars you eat the better.
2. White bread:
While sugar tops the list of inflammation triggering foods refined carbohydrates aren’t far behind. Eating too many junk carbs such as white bread, sugary breakfast cereal, potato chips, cornflakes, white rice, regular pasta and white potatoes can drive up chronic inflammation too.
Your body, basically, sees refined carbs as sugar, and it treats them the same way. Two major markers of inflammation—advanced glycation end markers (or AGEs) and PAI-1—skyrocket when you indulge in these foods regularly.
Replace some of those refined carbs with healthier versions such as brown or black rice, whole wheat or veggie pasta and sweet potatoes. And when you do indulge in white rice or white potatoes convert some of the starch in them to resistant starch by refrigerating them before eating.
3. Vegetable oil:
For years, we’ve been told vegetable oils are better for us. The trouble is many of these highly refined oils may have been promoting chronic inflammation all along.
You see most vegetable oils—including soybean oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil and sesame oil—are high in omega-6 fatty acids. And omega-6s can trigger inflammation. Plus the polyunsaturated fats in the oils make them oxidize more easily than other fats, forming harmful compounds that trigger inflammation as well.
Your body needs both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a very specific balance to stay healthy. But the typical Western diet is overflowing in omega-6s, and eating more vegetable oil isn’t helping.
Dump the inflammatory oils and make the switch back to omega-3 rich, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. And feel free to use traditional fats such as butter in moderation as well.
3 foods to fight chronic inflammation
But while certain foods can contribute to chronic inflammation, other common foods can help fight it.
Beets are loaded with betalain, a powerful antioxidant which can help reduce chronic inflammation. Betalian both interrupts the body’s inflammatory process and prevents the development of enzymes that cause inflammation in the first place. In fact, researchers say it may be as effective at combatting inflammation as NSAID drugs. But without all the side effects, of course.
2. Red grapes:
If you’re a fan of grapes, you’re in luck. They contain several inflammation fighting compounds. Red grapes contain anthocyanins, plant pigments that are natural inflammation fighters. And they’re an excellent source of anti-inflammatory resveratrol. In one study, a group of folks with heart disease saw a significant drop in inflammation when they took a grape extract.
Curcumin the active compound in the spice turmeric is both a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Studies have found it reduces the chronic inflammation behind arthritis, diabetes and other diseases. Just be sure to combine turmeric with black pepper. The piperine in the pepper can significantly boost absorption of the curcumin in the spice.