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Are you eating foods that make your inflammation worse?

Posted Oct 19 2010 10:31pm

If you suffer from chronic inflammation (think chronic joint pain, skin problems that won’t resolve, that sort of thing) you may be able to ease that discomfort a little by deliberately choosing foods that are anti-inflammatory (and avoiding the foods that promote inflammation).

Its easier to get a handle on this when you consider that everything you eat gets broken down into a biochemical mixture of molecules that your body then processes to create a whole new set of molecules: To build new cells, feed your brain, promote immunity etc. Some foods that you eat can actually cause more inflammation, exacerbating the pain and discomfort you’re already experiencing. And some foods can help calm that inflammation too.

The foods that can make your problem worse are, not surprisingly, foods of our modern industrial age: sugar, saturated fats, additives. Foods like biscuits, sugary doughnuts, sugar or syrup in coffee and tea….the list goes on and on. Its always an interesting exercise to write down everything you eat and drink during a day, then go back over the list and highlight any of the foods that contained sugar (you can find out by reading the nutrition label on the packet) or where you added sugar.

Our modern diet is remarkably unbalanced in our fat intake – we eat way too many omega-6 oils (from farmed meat, grains, dairy) and way too little omega-3 oils (from seafood, nuts, seeds, oily plants like avocado). This is why fish oil supplements work so well in calming inflamed, painful joints – because they help re-balance your fat intake.

The vitamins and minerals in some foods also helps your body create the right biochemical reactions to calm inflammation.

Foods that will help calm inflammation:

-          Seafood, especially oily fish like salmon, tuna and sardines

-          fresh vegetables and fruit

-          raw nuts, seeds, oily fruit

Foods that aggravate inflammation when you eat too much:

-          sugar (including soft drinks, sweets)

-          processed grains (made with white flour, like pastry)

-          deep fried foods

-          highly processed fatty foods (like potato crisps)

If you’d like to assess just how pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory a particular food is, there’s a web site that provides this kind of data: Do a search for the food that interests you and you’ll see charts that include the inflammation factor rating. For example, butter has an inflammation rating of -720 (its strongly inflammatory due to its high saturated fat content) and sardines have an inflammation rating of 763 (strongly anti-inflammatory due to their high content of omega-3 oils).

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