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  • Writer's pictureDr. Chris Phillips

Part 3: Foods NOT to Eat When Following an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Those living with an autoimmune disease know that inflammation is relentless. It’s stubborn and never seems to go away.

And while it might feel like an impossible task to escape inflammation entirely, it is important to take steps to reduce it. Long-term, chronic inflammation is extremely harmful to the body and can create permanent health problems.

Here at Paducah Rheumatology, we create personalized treatment plans for every single patient as part of our approach to minimize that life-altering inflammation.

Although no two treatment plans are identical, we do encourage all our patients to make lifestyle choices that will improve their physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing … and the food we eat can significantly decrease or contribute to chronic inflammation.

The Connection Between Food and Inflammation

Our three-part blog series has brought you information about the consequences of chronic inflammation (Part 1) and what foods you CAN eat as part of an anti-inflammatory diet (Part 2).

Part 3 is all about the foods you should NOT eat when following an anti-inflammatory diet.

That’s right, it’s not just about consuming foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, it’s about avoiding pro-inflammatory foods as well.

To understand the connection between food and inflammation, the Mayo Clinic explains: “Research shows that what you eat can affect the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP)—a marker for inflammation—in your blood. That could be because some foods like processed sugars help release inflammatory messengers that can raise the risk of chronic inflammation. Other foods like fruits and veggies help your body fight against oxidative stress, which can trigger inflammation.”

Trying to make sense of the scientific explanation behind pro-inflammatory foods can get confusing, though.

We have a simple rule of thumb when trying to determine whether a food item is considered pro-inflammatory - stay away from food that is high in trans fat and saturated fat. Also, beware of types of fat that hide behind the term - “partially hydrogenated oils” - when listed on labels.

Furthermore, the high sugar content in foods is another huge contributor to inflammation. How so? It links back to those inflammatory messengers, known as cytokines, and how pro-inflammatory foods trigger that inflammatory process.

Pro-Inflammatory Foods to Avoid

Are you ready to pump up your efforts to decrease inflammation by eating an anti-inflammatory diet? You should avoid the following pro-inflammatory foods:

RED MEATS and PROCESSED MEATS: hot dogs, bacon, salami, beef jerky, ham, canned meats, lunch meats, cured meats, smoked meats, sausage, beef, steaks

REFINED CARBOHYDRATES: white bread, biscuits, pizza crust, white rice, pasta, sugary breakfast cereal, bleached flour, instant oatmeal

FAST FOOD and FRIED FOOD and PREPARED FROZEN MEALS: french fries, pizza, fried chicken, hamburgers, mozzarella sticks

SUGAR-SWEETENED DRINKS and ADDITIVES: sweet teas, soda, fruit juices, energy drinks, sports drinks, sugary coffee creamers, whipped cream, syrups

PREMADE DESSERTS and FROZEN DESSERTS and CANDY: donuts, cookies, cakes, pastries, pie, muffins, ice cream

SNACK FOOD and JUNK FOOD: potato chips, crackers, pretzels, granola bars

OILS and SPREADS: canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, margarine, lard, shortening

SUGAR! (Sugar sneaks into everything, especially liquids like sauces, gravies, dressings, and soups.)

Slow and Steady Wins the Race!

Lifestyle changes are difficult, and beginning a new diet is a major shift in lifestyle.

Our healthcare team at Paducah Rheumatology is ready to help you through the good times and the bad.

Remember to give yourself grace. Be patient with the process.

Eating a single meal full of anti-inflammatory foods will not cut down that chronic inflammation instantly. Do not give up, though. Your body will appreciate the consistent efforts!

If you haven’t already, check out Part 2 of our blog series that contains a list of more than 100 foods you can enjoy as part of an anti-inflammatory diet.

We look forward to supporting you on your diet journey! We accept new patients with a physician’s referral, too.

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