You’re eating plenty of anti-inflammatory foods such as vegetables and fruits, trying to include some plant proteins and include healthy fats from olive oil, avocado and chia seeds. Now you’re ready for Part 2 of my Guide to Anti-Inflammatory Eating. What not to eat, or what to eat less of.
There are certain foods that are linked to more inflammation which could increase your risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Cutting down on these foods can also help you manage symptoms if you already have a disease or health issue linked to inflammation (almost all of them are) such as arthritis or irritable bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and colitis).
Keep in mind that having one piece of cake isn’t going to cause a state of chronic inflammation. It’s the big picture of what you eat over time that matters (read The Best Weight Loss Diet Ever and What Is the 80 Twenty Rule for more on this). That’s why talking about inflammatory eating “habits” is more accurate than pointing the finger at specific foods.
Inflammatory Foods and Eating Habits
1. Overdoing it on Calories and Overeating
If you’re eating piles of brown rice rather than triple decker cheeseburgers, that’s great. Still, overdoing it on calories still causes you to put on weight, which itself, promotes inflammation. Eating too much, even “good calories” causes fat cells to grow and multiply and can lead to extra belly fat that increases your risk for metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
Need help knowing how much food is right for you? Struggling with trying to lose some weight, especially around your waist? Speak to a registered dietitian to get the best plan of attack for you. As always, I’m happy to help. Get in touch for some online or phone nutrition counseling.
Even if you’re on the leaner side, there’s something to be said for eating less. One study found that taking in 20-25% fewer calories for 6 months to a year was linked to lower levels of inflammatory markers in the blood in slim, overweight and obese people.
I hear ya, I love to eat too. I would never tell you to deprive yourself or starve. It’s about choosing high quality food, eating mindfully and enjoying every bite.
2. “Fast Carbs” – Refined Carbohydrates and Sugars
Overdoing it on fast carbs like sugary foods and sweets, white bread and white rice, etc. is linked to type 2 diabetes and obesity. I call them fast carbs because they’re high on the glycemic index, meaning they cause a surge in blood sugar and insulin levels that can promote inflammation and cause extra fat storage around the belly.
Here are 5 Slow Carb Swaps you can make now to lower the glycemic index/glycemic load of your diet to help lower inflammation.
3. Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Trans Fats)
Hydrogenated vegetable oils are hands down the most evil of all fats. These franken-oils ore commonly referred to as trans fats (although there are some natural trans fats found in some foods, these aren’t the ones we worry about). This menace to society causes inflammation in your blood vessels and heart – and that… makes my heart fill with rage!
What’s the best amount of these fats to get in your daily diet?
Zero. Yep. You don’t even want decimal points of this stuff in your body.
4. Saturated Fat
So you read an article about how saturated fats aren’t as bad as we originally thought, so you’re piling on the bacon and spreading butter and coconut oil on every bite that passes your lips.
Whether or not cutting down on saturated fat is a good idea depends on what you’re going to eat instead. Are you going to eat pretzels and other fast carbs? Obviously not ideal because this will promote inflammation as we described above.
This is a huge area of controversy but based on what we know so far, getting too much saturated fat causes inflammation. Saturated fats lower HDL, healthy cholesterol. Replace the saturated fat with polyunsaturated fats (for example, replacing some of your butter and fatty cuts of meat with flax oil and nuts) and you’ll lower inflammation and your risk of heart disease. In overweight and obese people, a diet high in saturated fat may lower the sensitivity of cells to insulin, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
5. Omega-6 Fatty Acids
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: not all vegetable oils are healthy! Omega-6 fatty acids are needed in our diets but we are overdoing it. Omega-6s are inflammatory because they are converted into eicosanoids, substances that can do a number on your immune system and cause blood platelets to clot up like nobody’s business.
Getting lots of omega-6 fats from corn, safflower, sunflower and soybean oils has led to an inflammatory ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s that is between 10:1 and 20:1 rather than the ideal of 1:1 to 4:1 (depending who you ask). This is suspected to be one of the reasons why more people are developing inflammatory diseases such as irritable bowel disease (IBD), rheumatoid arthritis.
Cook with a heart-healthy oil that won’t cause inflammation: olive oil. It’s the staple oil in the Mediterranean Diet, a naturally anti-inflammatory way of eating.
How to Lower Inflammation
If you haven’t already, be sure to read up on the foods to emphasize in an Anti-Inflammatory Diet. You’ll be the healthiest you ever!
What change will you be making to your way of eating to help lower inflammation? Share in the comments below!