Inflammation. The culprit for most disease states, is actually a good thing. Woah…Wait…What?! That’s right! Inflammation is a good thing. Now, I say this with a HUGE but, on the end of it. Inflammation is your body’s defense to stress and foreign invaders. It helps bring on a fever when you are sick and it sends a battle cry to all immune cells to ward off infection.
The problem is, when inflammation becomes chronic it not only impairs your ability to combat the common cold, it can lead to diseases like autoimmune disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and clinical depression (1). Inflammation can occur because of several factors, some include household items, mold, stress, smoking, alcohol and toxins found in drinking water, plastics, cosmetics and other everyday products. One of the biggest contributors is the food that you eat…below is a list of some of the sneakiest perpetrators that can lead to inflammation.
That’s right…cheese, milk, cream, butter and yogurt are all inflammatory. Although civilizations have recorded eating dairy from 9,000-3,000 BC, our bodies struggle to break down and deal with the proteins and sugars that are present. For people who are lactose intolerant and who don’t produce the lactase enzyme, which is responsible for breaking down lactose, a sugar found in milk, digestive issues and ramped inflammation can strike. Even if lactose isn’t an issue for you, casein and whey protein can also cause inflammation. Added hormones and grain fed-cows, can also lead to inflammation. Vitamin C and beneficial bacteria (along with the bad) has been taken out of cow’s milk resulting in less help with the digestion process. If you drink pasteurized milk, adding in a probiotic supplement, digestive enzyme and some vitamin C may help.
You had to see this one coming. Everyone’s favorite sweet treat can contribute to disease. The more sugar you eat and the more times you eat it, the less capable your body is at producing insulin, which results in free radicals that stimulate your immune system, which leads to inflammation (2). Whew! That is quite a process. Most of this form of inflammation occurs in your blood vessels and arteries which pump straight to and from your heart, causing fibrin build up leading to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, cholesterol and heart disease. Â Cutting out added sugar and supplementing with systemic enzymes can all help combat this form of inflammation in your body.
Yup I said it, the G word that everyone seems avoid like the plague. Gluten which is Latin for ‘glue’, is a protein found in bread, grains and processed foods that gives bread it’s elasticity and acts as a stabilizing agent in processed foods. It’s also closely related to the protein casein, found in dairy. Over the span of 50 years, our wheat has been hybridized to be more bug-resistant, drought- resistant and faster growing. This has resulted in new proteins than our parents bread had, and a larger likelihood of an immune response (3).Â In gluten sensitive people these proteins and gluten, are not absorbed and can cause your immune system to attack the proteins, leading to inflammation and stress on your immune system. This process spurs zonulin (a protein) that causes leaky gut. Leaky gut allows toxins, microbes, undigested food particles and antibodies to enter your blood stream, which results in systemic inflammation. Trying to avoid gluten can help those with sensitivities or celiac as can taking a digestive enzyme to help your body break down gluten and pass through your system.
This list truly doesn’t stop at just 3 foods, Omega 6 fatty acids, MSG, processed foods, Aspartame, legumes, nightshades, high sulfur foods like eggs and garlic, other forms of grains, corn and more can also lead to inflammation. If you have a disease or condition you are struggling with, whether it be high blood pressure, allergies, autoimmune disease, high cholesterol or mild depression, limiting these foods or trying an elimination diet may be a great option for you to help reduce systemic inflammation in your body. Be proactive about your health and reduce sugar, gluten and dairy.