When you suffer from chronic pain such as arthritis. Did you know that eating certain foods increases the inflammatory markers in our bodies? People with acute and chronic pain often have a high amount of inflammation in their joints, muscles and blood. Changing your eating habits can decrease inflammation in your body? There are important dietary improvements you can make today that can help you reduce pain.
Sugar, AKA corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, maltose and sucrose. It may be hard to resist desserts, pastries, chocolate bars, sodas, even fruit juices. Processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Sugar goes by many names so look out for any word ending in “ose,” e.g. fructose or sucrose on ingredient labels. These include granola bars, instant oatmeal, juices, crackers, prepackaged meals and more. Think like a detective, and be sure to carefully read foods labels on everything you eat, paying close attention to grams of sugar.
Several studies have shown that saturated fats trigger adipose (fat tissue) inflammation, which is not only an indicator for heart disease but it also worsens arthritis inflammation. Other culprits include meat products (especially red meat), full-fat dairy products, pasta dishes and grain-based desserts.
Trans fat are known to trigger systemic inflammation, trans fat can be found in fast foods and other fried products, processed snack foods, frozen breakfast products, cookies, donuts, crackers and most stick margarines. Avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient labels.
Limit Simple Carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates include “white” foods, like: white pasta, white breads, white crackers and anything made with white flour. Why should you limit these foods? Simple carbs quickly break down into forms of sugar, which we know to be inflammatory and related with weight gain, cardiovascular diseases and cancers. These high-glycemic index foods fuel the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) products that stimulate inflammation. Studies have shown that eating a diet lower in carbs and higher in healthy fats and proteins also reduces inflammation in the body.
Limit Food Additives
Try to limit food additives in your meals, particularly MSG and artificial sweeteners and preservatives. These additives are found in prepared Asian food and soy sauce, but it can also be added to fast foods, prepared soups and soup mixes, salad dressings and deli meats. This chemical can trigger two important pathways of chronic inflammation, and affect liver health.
Gluten and Casein
Common allergens like gluten and casein (proteins found in dairy and wheat) may also promote inflammation. For individuals living with arthritis who also have celiac disease (gluten allergy) and dairy intolerance, the inflammatory effect can be even worse. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and any foods made with these grains. Casein is found in whey protein products.
Trying to go sugar-free? Aspartame is a non-nutritive, intense artificial sweetener found in more than 4,000 products worldwide. It is a neurotoxin, which means it affects the brain. If you are sensitive to this chemical, your immune system will react to the “foreign substance” by attacking the chemical, which in return, will trigger an inflammatory response.
What Should You Eat More?
Foods shown to be especially anti-inflammatory and good in all sorts of other ways include: berries, cherries, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, olives and olive oil, fish (especially salmon, halibut, sardines, tuna, trout, whitefish, cod and oysters), avocados, green tea and nuts including walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds.
Cutting back on foods that promote inflammation, increasing the proportion of fruits and vegetables in your diet, making fish your main protein and getting more omega-3s can make a big difference. Try seasoning your foods with seasonings that have anti-inflammatory benefits such as with ginger, cinnamon, basil, cloves, mint, turmeric, thyme and chili pepper. Moderation is key in life, but being informed and making changes to help manage your life and your pain is important.