When you have arthritis, your body is in an inflammatory state. What you eat may not only increase inflammation it can also set you up for other chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Here are 8 inflammation triggers in foods you may be eating.
It may be hard to resist desserts, pastries, chocolate bars, sodas, even fruit juices. However, theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition warns that 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.
Several studies have shown that saturated fats trigger adipose, or fat tissue inflammation, which is not only an indicator for heart disease but it also worsens arthritis inflammation. Pizza and cheese are the biggest sources of saturated fats in the average American diet, according to the National Cancer Institute. Other culprits include meat products (especially red meat), full-fat dairy products, pasta dishes and grain-based desserts.
Harvard School of Public Health researchers helped sound the alarm about trans fat in the early 1990s. 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.
Omega 6 Fatty Acids
Omega 6 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid that the body needs for normal growth and development. The body needs a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Excess consumption of omega-6s can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals. These fatty acids are found in oils such corn, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, soy, peanut, and vegetable; mayonnaise; and many salad dressings.
White flour products (breads, rolls, crackers) white rice, white potatoes (instant mashed potatoes, or french fries) and many cereals are refined carbohydrates. According toScientific American, processed carbohydrates may trump fats as the main driver of escalating rates of obesity and other chronic conditions. These high-glycemic index foods fuel the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) products that stimulate inflammation.
Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor-enhancing food additive most commonly 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.
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 in your arthritis symptoms.