What Is Inflammation?
Your immune system is incredibly smart. It’s constantly keeping guard and watching for anything abnormal. Whenever something goes wrong, your body sends substances found in your white blood cells to the infected region. This may cause redness or a warm sensation.
However, whenever the body cannot rid itself of the harmful triggers found in the body it stays in ‘chronic inflammation mode’. The body can remain inflamed for years. After so long, the body starts attacking the inflammation or itself. This causes wearing down of cartilage, irritation, and swelling of the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis, gouty arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis are all by-products of chronic inflammation.
Fortunately and unfortunately, the foods that enter our mouth have a huge impact on inflammation. You see, when we eat things our body cannot use for nutrients it identifies it as an intruder. And who could blame it? Chemicals and other substances that are made in a lab are far from food. Constantly eating a diet high in processed foods with no nutritional value is a sure way to trigger chronic inflammation.
Luckily, by switching our diet to one high in nutrition and whole foods we can give the body what it’s been craving: health!
But first, let’s cover foods that can cause chronic inflammation as well as some solutions for eliminating these foods.
Foods That Cause Inflammation
Trans fat is considered the worst fat you can consume (more than saturated fat). The reason for this is because trans fat is not found in nature. It’s created in a laboratory by combining hydrogen with normal oils. By heating up oils to an extremely dangerous level, hydrogen molecules can be pumped directly into the oils.
This turns normal liquid oil into a solid at room temperature. Vegetable oil can now become margarine and be used in everything from cookies to shortening. Yuck!
I wrote an entire article dedicated to the dangers of trans fat and you can read it here.
Refined grains include white bread, white rice, cakes, and cookies. The word ‘refined’ indicates some method of processing has been used when handling these foods. Therefore, white grains are not natural at all.
The natural form of grains contain 3 parts:
- endosperm- center part of the grain that feeds the plant
- germ- the most inner piece that produces a new plant
- bran- the outer most part of the grain.
During the process of refining grains, the bran and germ are completely stripped from the grain. However, that’s where all of the vitamins, proteins, and minerals are. By doing this to the grain, pests won’t go near it and it has a much longer shelf life.
But if natural pests and animals won’t eat this grain, then why the heck are we?
Since these grains have an extremely simple structure, these carbs break down way faster than their original counterpart. This leads to spikes in insulin and blood sugar levels shortly after consuming. Once the blood sugar goes back down (around 1-2 hours after eating), your body signals hunger and you want to eat again.
Solution: Cut these refined grains out of your diet completely. Switch to 100% whole grains. When reading the nutrition label, look for whole grain as the first ingredient. Avoid anything that says refined or bleached.
Processed Foods, Drinks, Snacks
The reason processed foods cause inflammation in the body is for the reason we discussed earlier – you’re body cannot recognize it! Additives such as chemicals, artificial flavors and colors, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives are all incredible unnatural. How is your body supposed to know that these things are ‘food’ when they’re really not?
For examples, things like high fructose corn syrup and acesulfame potassium (Ace K) are man-made sweeteners. These substances don’t occur naturally in nature. Therefore, your body has no choice but to identify it as an intruder and begin the inflammation process.
Solution: Learn to read the nutrition label. If there are any ingredients that your grandma wouldn’t have used in her kitchen, then don’t buy it. Or if the ingredient label takes longer to read than to eat the food, don’t buy it. Try looking for whole ingredients that you recognize.
In The Daniel Plan, their approach was you can eat anything – as long as you made it at home with real ingredients!
Processed meats are the meats that come from large factory farms, pumped with antibiotics and hormones, and fed a grain diet. The meat that comes from these animals is bad for you in a number of ways.
The saturated fats in these meat cause clogged arteries and the antibiotics cause antibiotic resistance. Also, these animals are kept in large barns surrounded by other animals. This makes diseases easily spread and living conditions filthy.
That being said, the meat coming out of these factories are not the same quality that our ancestors ate. In the wild, these animals eat grass and maintain healthy levels without the use of hormones and antibiotics.
Therefore, if you want to optimize your health levels only eat grass-fed meat from your local farmer. Ask as many questions as you can about the health and life of these animals to ensure that the meat is the greatest quality you can find.
Solution: Give up meat entirely. Or find a local farmer that you can visit and ask questions such as, “Are any antibiotics given to these animals?” or “Do the animals roam free and eat grass?” Also, treat meat a side dish or a treat. Use vegetables as the main dish (75%) of your plate and only give meat 25%.
Since red meats are generally worse, switch to fish or poultry. This little switch will have a huge impact on your health. 
There are two main reasons for dairy’s inflammation response: the sugar and protein found within.
70% of the world’s total population is lactose intolerant.  This means they cannot properly digest the sugar found in milk. The milk protein casein is extremely similar to the structure of gluten. Studies show that 50% of those that have a gluten intolerance also have a casein intolerance.
Inflammation from dairy includes acne, heavy sinuses, headaches, and low energy.
Solution: Stop consuming dairy products. Seriously, just try it for about 3 weeks and see how you feel. Take note of any changes you feel. Then, if you desire, add dairy back and see if the symptoms come back.
Sugar is another refined substance that is void of nutrients and full of a lot of empty calories. Too much sugar causes weight gain, which is a risk for inflammation.
Also, a diet high in sugar can cause Type 3 Diabetes AKA Alzheimer’s Disease. In this disease, areas of the brain become inflamed and eventually the victim loses their memory.
Another concern of sugar is it may cause Leaky Gut Syndrome. This literally causes substances to leak out of the gut and into the bloodstream. Because of this, the body starts attacking these invaders and triggers an inflammatory response.
Solution: Reduce your intake of sugar to as little as possible. Read the labels and find out how much sugar is in your favorite foods. Also, cut out sweets. They do more harm than good when it comes to nutritional eating.
Drinking more than one glass of alcohol a day puts you at risk for Leaky Gut Syndrome. As mentioned before, this cause substances to come out of the gut and into the bloodstream. This results in inflammation as the body tries to eliminate these harmful substances.
Also, those who drink too much alcohol over a large number of years can end up with liver hepatitis. In other words, inflammation of the liver.
Solution: Limit yourself to one alcohol drink a day or cut alcohol out of your diet completely!
The reason fried foods are awful for your health is that they’re usually fried in trans fat or vegetable oil. Vegetable oils (which we’ll discuss in the next section) are loaded with Omega 6 fatty acids which trigger inflammation. & we’ve already covered trans fat in the first section.
Solution: Switch to a healthier alternative such as coconut oil or avocado oil. Also, opt out of eating at fast food places since they’re most likely to use trans fat as shortening in their fryers. Another option is to start baking more.
Too Much Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Consuming large amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids create a high risk for a wide array of diseases such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), cardiovascular disease, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). 
Too much Omega-6 fatty acids in your diet trigger an inflammatory response. Plus, when too little Omega-3 fatty acids are consumed, Omega-6 FA’s inhibit their anti-inflammatory response.  How’s that for a double whammy?
Vegetable oils are extremely high in Omega-6 fatty acids and doctors advise to steer clear of them at all cost. These are one of those foods that cause inflammation that is everywhere and people love to use them. Mostly because they’re cheap and have no smell so you have no idea when they actually go bad.
Solution: Avoid foods high in Omega-6 fatty acids and eat more Omega-3 fatty acids. Beware of potato chips, fast food, cured meats, and cake with frosting. Consume more foods like fish, walnuts, kidney beans, edamame, soybeans, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) promotes the consumption of many foods that cause inflammation. Therefore, stay educated and informed about what’s really in your foods by learning to read a nutrition label and doing your own research.
To read more about inflammation, read this article by the National Center for Biotechnology.