Whether you have an autoimmune disease–or just want to limit inflammation in your body–the foods you eat can have a remarkable impact on your inflammatory response and thus the way you feel. While each one of us is unique and will respond differently to different foods, some foods and ingredients are more likely to exacerbate symptoms and lead to inflammation. You may notice differences in your body when you limit or eliminate the following:
1. processed sugar and sugar alternative sweeteners
This includes things like table sugar, sucralose, and high fructose corn syrup. Fresh whole fruit contains fructose and is generally a friendly alternative for your sweet tooth. Small amounts of honey are usually well tolerated too
2. trans fat
Trans fat is a fat that has been treated by taking a normally liquid fat and turning it into a solid. It’s more likely than other types of fat to clog your arteries and to cause inflammation. It is often found in fast food, highly processed foods like baked goods, margarine and salty snacks. When grocery shopping, look at the food label. Trans fat is singled out–and if you see that your item contains trans fat, look for an alternative. If you want to have a spread for your bread, choose butter over margarine. Or treat yourself to avocado instead. It adds flavor and is full of healthy fat. For cooking, choose olive or coconut oil
3. refined carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates are those that have been processed to remove the fiber. Think of white rice vs brown rice, white flour vs whole wheat flour or what you might consider normal pasta vs whole grain pasta. Refined carbs are digested quickly and can cause a spike in your blood sugar…and that leads to inflammation. If you’re able to tolerate gluten and other carbs, opt for unprocessed versions. Choose oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat flour products
4. red meat and processed meats
Red meat includes foods like beef hamburgers and steaks. Processed meats include things like bacon, hotdogs and sausage. Eating these meats increases C-reactive protein (or CRP) in your blood. CRP is a marker of inflammation. If you’re craving a burger, consider a turkey burger or a vegetarian patty. Other good sources of protein include fish, legumes and soy, if your body can tolerate these.
Check out the Aila Health app for more helpful tips, free diet and inflammation tracking tools, and personalized coaching!
Dhaka V, Gulia N, Ahlawat KS, Khatkar BS. Trans fats-sources, health risks and alternative approach – A review. J Food Sci Technol. 2011;48(5):534-541. doi:10.1007/s13197-010-0225-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3551118/
Sylvia H Ley, Qi Sun, Walter C Willett, A Heather Eliassen, Kana Wu, An Pan, Fran Grodstein, Frank B Hu, Associations between red meat intake and biomarkers of inflammation and glucose metabolism in women, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 99, Issue 2, February 2014, Pages 352–360, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.113.075663. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/99/2/352/4571486