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Five Inflammatory Ingredients in Food
Inflammation in the body is involved in numerous disease processes. Many chronic diseases such as arthritis, heart diseases and diabetes often only arise from recurrent inflammation. Certain foods and eating habits can promote or inhibit inflammation. A nutritionist reports on what to watch out for.
Erin Coates is a registered nutritionist at the renowned Cleveland Clinic in the United States. In a recent contribution from the clinic, the expert explains which foods trigger inflammation in the body and can therefore be involved in the development of serious diseases.
Chronic inflammation causes illness
Basically, the body reacts with inflammation as a means of protecting health when the immune system detects something strange in the body. While temporary inflammation can have a protective effect, chronic inflammation is associated with many serious diseases.
Inflammation often begins in the kitchen
"If you want to fight the inflammation, start by taking a look at your kitchen," Coates emphasizes. It is worth deleting inflammatory foods from the shopping list and replacing them with anti-inflammatory foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, seeds and fish.
But which foods cause inflammation? The nutritionist presents the five most common foods that can promote inflammation in the body.
Most people consume far too much sugar. Several dietary guidelines recommend consuming a maximum of five to six teaspoons of sugar a day. This amount is already in a large glass of cola. Sugar is added to many processed foods because sugar is a cheap way to make finished products more tasty.
Coates points out that several studies have shown that high sugar consumption can lead to increased chronic inflammation. "It's primarily about how much of it you eat," notes the nutritionist. Some typical examples of hidden sugar in processed products are cookies, sweets, breakfast cereals, pastries, granola bars and salad dressings.
Why does sugar cause inflammation?
"When you digest something, the sugar gets into your blood," Coates explains. The insulin then brings the sugar into the cells for energy. However, if there is too much sugar, the excess is stored in fat cells. Over time, this leads to weight gain and insulin resistance, which in turn affects the metabolism. "Our body is not designed to process excessive amounts of added sugar throughout the day," emphasizes the nutrition expert.
How to recognize hidden sugar
“We have to be more conscious about the choice of products and read the label,” advises Coates. Sugar is often obscured by other names. Ingredients such as syrup, sucrose, dextrose, raffinose, glucose, lactose, maltose, malt extract, barley malt extract, maltodextrin, dextrin or wheat dextrin are different types of sugar.
Natural sugars are not that bad
The primary focus is on reducing added sugar, according to Coates. Natural sugars found in fruits and dairy products don't usually raise blood sugar as quickly because they also contain fiber and lean protein to slow digestion.
2. Trans fats
Food manufacturers produce trans fats by adding hydrogen to the fat. This changes the texture, consistency and shelf life of the fats. However, recent studies show that these hardened fats are harmful to health even in small quantities. It's recommended to eat less than a gram of trans fats a day, Coates says. Trans fats are especially found in ready-made baked goods such as cookies, pastries and crackers and in fast food dishes such as pizza, fries and burgers.
Why trans fats cause inflammation
"Trans fatty acids raise the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower the level of good cholesterol (HDL)," explains Coates. Both events increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
How do you recognize trans fats?
Trans fats are usually indicated on the food label as hardened or partially hardened fats.
3. Red and processed meat
Processed meat is often salted, salted, fermented or smoked for flavor or preservation purposes. Processed meat can be found in products such as bacon, sausages, salami and cold cuts, as well as in numerous ready meals.
Why red and processed meat causes inflammation
Research shows that both processed and red meat have a high content of saturated fats that can cause inflammation. Such inflammation is associated with the development of cancer, heart disease and stroke.
4. Omega-6 fatty acids
Omega-6 fatty acids are fats that the body uses for energy. The body cannot produce these fatty acids itself and receives them exclusively from food. Some oils are rich in omega-6 fatty acids such as rapeseed oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil and peanut oil. Larger amounts are also contained in mayonnaise.
When omega-6 fatty acids contribute to inflammation
Omega-6 fatty acids are not generally unhealthy. However, according to Coates, one has to make sure that these fatty acids are in balance with the omega-3 fatty acid consumption. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in salmon, walnuts and linseed, for example. "If you don't consume enough omega-3 fatty acids and too many omega-6 fatty acids, you can cause persistent inflammation in the body," warns the nutritionist.
5. Refined carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates are primarily contained in white flour products, for example in white bread, rolls, toasted bread or baguettes. For many people, these products are a basis in nutrition.
Why refined carbohydrates cause inflammation
"It is similar to added sugar, because nothing slows it down," says the nutrition expert. Refined carbohydrates quickly enter the bloodstream and drive blood sugar up. Elevated blood sugar is associated with increased inflammatory reactions.
Replace refined carbohydrates with whole grain alternatives
One should not completely do without carbohydrates. It is better to replace the refined carbohydrates with whole grain alternatives. Good whole grain sources include quinoa, oatmeal or brown rice. "These take longer to be digested so that they don't drive your blood sugar up so quickly," says Coates.
Another final tip from Coates: All of the inflammation-promoting products mentioned here can be replaced by high-fiber foods such as vegetables and fruits. These are rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals and help to establish a stable balance in the diet, which is also associated with less inflammation. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek