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  • Jessica Frizzell, PA-C

Foods to AVOID When on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet


In today’s society, there are so many types of diets. We’ve all heard of the popular ones like the paleo diet, Atkins diet, ketogenic diet, vegan diet… the list goes on. Most of these diets are designed to address specific health issues.


Do you want to lose weight quickly? There is a diet for that.


Do you want to decrease your blood pressure?

Reset your metabolism

Lower your blood sugar levels?

You can find a diet to target just that!


But what is an anti-inflammatory diet? There are natural anti-inflammatory foods that rheumatology patients find to reduce inflammation, lessen the number of flare-ups and even take the edge off their pain. Often referred to as a Mediterranean diet, an anti-inflammatory diet is a great way to give your body the boost it needs to fight off inflammation. As explained in this article on everydayhealth.com:


“Inflammation occurs naturally as part of the body’s immune response. When your body is fighting an infection or injury, it sends inflammatory cells to the rescue. This results in those classic signs — swelling, redness, and sometimes pain. That’s completely normal and natural. As long as the body stays in control, that is. The story changes when inflammation lingers and never fully goes away. This chronic inflammation means your body is always in a state of high alert, and it can trigger some major health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.”


So let’s talk about what foods to AVOID if the goal is to reduce inflammation.


When on a diet, it can be difficult to know what you can and cannot eat. In fact, it can be downright frustrating to figure out a meal plan. Below is a list of specific items to particularly stay away from when trying to follow an anti-inflammatory diet.


PROCESSED FOODS: This category consists of many of the quick and convenient foods you pick up from restaurants or the frozen section of the grocery store. To sum it up, pre-prepared meals, fast food, and processed meats are a no-go. Processed meats include bacon, beef jerky, canned meat, salami, hot dogs, and even smoked meats.


FRIED FOODS: Foods fried in partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fats. An article on healthline.com says: “Trans fats are found in two forms — natural, which occur in some animal products and aren’t considered harmful, and artificial, which are hydrogenated vegetable oils and have serious health consequences … Excess inflammation is thought to be a primary cause of many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and arthritis. Two studies indicate that trans fats increase inflammatory markers when replacing other nutrients in the diet.”


SUGAR-SWEETENED BEVERAGES: Do you look at the nutrition label of the beverages you consume? What about the ingredient list? Sugar can often be found near the top of that list with many drink options. Soda, sweet tea, energy drinks, and sports drinks are packed with sugar.


PROCESSED CARBOHYDRATES: Here we are referring to food such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, flour tortillas, biscuits, and such. Foods with added sugar or added salt are often highly processed as well. As this article on healthline.com explains: “One of the reasons that added sugars are harmful is that they can increase inflammation, which can lead to disease. In one study, mice fed high sucrose diets developed breast cancer that spread to their lungs, partly due to the inflammatory response to sugar. In another study, the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids were impaired in mice fed a high sugar diet. What’s more, in a randomized clinical trial in which people drank regular soda, diet soda, milk, or water, only those in the regular soda group had increased levels of uric acid, which drives inflammation and insulin resistance.”


“JUNK” FOODS: This category is your classic junk food or snack items such as chips, pretzels, and crackers. Once again, research shows consuming foods that contain artificial trans fats leads to higher levels of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP).


PREMADE DESSERTS: Yes, they satisfy that sweet tooth, but it is a good idea to limit candy, cakes, donuts, cookies, ice cream, and pastries.


While an anti-inflammatory diet is not a fix-all solution, choosing nutritious food is an excellent way to help combat inflammation.


At Paducah Rheumatology, we understand making smart food choices can be a struggle. Let’s work together to strive to be healthier individuals and avoid foods that interrupt our journey to better health and wellness.


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