Dear Asking Heated Questions:
If you are battling inflammation from a condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis, research suggests steering clear of certain ingredients that may fan the flame.
Christi Bowling, a registered dietitian nutritionist and director of nutrition at Vori Health recommends limiting the following foods:
- Trans fat. Researchers first raised alarms about trans fat and its role in heart disease a few decades ago; additional studies show it may also trigger systemic inflammation. “Trans fat can be found in fast and fried foods, processed snacks, frozen breakfasts, cookies, donuts, crackers, and most stick margarines,” Bowling says. “It is almost a plastic-type fat that is extremely difficult for the body to break down, which is why it is recommended to consume zero grams daily.”
- Refined carbs. Many manufactures strip certain nutrients from carbohydrates to create a more mass-marketable product. These so-called refined carbohydrates include white-flour foods like breads, rolls, and crackers, as well as white rice, instant mashed potatoes, frozen French fries, and many cereals. Bowling recommends limiting refined carbs as they “contain minimal nutrients and are linked to both rising obesity rates and inflammatory markers in the body.”
- Sugars. Despite sugar's sweet reputation, studies in both mice and humans link added sugars—like those found in sodas, packaged foods, and many juices—to increased levels of cytokines (proteins in the body that activate your immune system).
- Artificial sweeteners. While artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Equal may help reduce sugar intake, controversy exists as to whether they may also stir up inflammation. Some studies with mice suggest they do, with particular implications for individuals with underlying auto-immune issues.
If you are looking to lower inflammation, get a personalized assessment with a Vori Health nutritionist and learn how to swap these foods for better choices.