Understanding Inflammation and the Different Foods that Cause Inflammation

The human body is such a complex structure that needs to constantly maintain its balance or homeostasis. If this homeostasis is inadvertently offset, it may cause various maladies that could be detrimental to the human person. To preserve this homeostasis, the human body has developed complex biological responses that aim to immediately bring back this bodily balance. These highly calibrated bodily responses are designed to contain the causes of bodily imbalance. Among the systems involved in these complex biological responses is the immune system of the human body.

The immune system comprises of many biological processes that protect the body against harmful elements. This system can also detect a wide array of harmful agents called “pathogens” including viruses, bacteria, and parasitic worms. If ever harmful pathogens get past the external defenses of the human body, they are immediately met by an attack force whose major components are the white blood cells called “lymphocytes.” The action of these attack forces against pathogens usually causes inflammation; hence, inflammation is definitely indicative of the fact that the human body is working feverishly to contain pathogens.

There are secondary factors, however, that could trigger inflammation within the human body. One such secondary factor is the food that a person regularly eats. Food can trigger acute inflammatory conditions that may eventually progress into chronic inflammatory conditions. Hence, if you have either an acute or chronic inflammation, it is imperative that you know the different types of food that are contributory to the aggravation of inflammation. Here are five foods that cause inflammation within the human body.

Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

sugarSweets can be very alluring, especially, to kids. However, as a person ages, some foods—like cakes, pastries, candies, fruit juices, soda, chocolates—can become injurious to one’s health if regularly taken. Sweeteners like sugar, for example, can cause the release of cytokines within the bloodstream.  Cytokines are proteins that are valuable for cell-signaling. These proteins influence the behavior of surrounding cells and promote immune responses against infections that cause the onset of inflammation.

Sugar can also subdue the germ-killing capability of leukocytes or white blood cells, thus, eventually weakening the immune system of the body. This weakening of the immune system may result into new physiological vulnerabilities to infections.

Sugar may come in the varied forms like glucose, fructose or sucrose. According to some laboratory test results, sucrose or common table sugar can suppress the anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3 fatty acids and can increase the development of obesity. This suppressive effect of sugar on the omega-3 fatty acids offsets the balance between omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Once this balance is offset, inflammation may occur in the different parts of the body.

The Common Cooking Oils

oilMany among us are less aware of the fact that the common cooking oils that we regularly use could be contributory to the aggravation of acute and chronic inflammation. In fact, studies have shown that the continuous use of common cooking oil can surely aggravate arthritis and other inflammation within the human body. The main component of the common cooking oil that appears to be the culprit in triggering inflammation is its omega-6 component.

The omega-6 fatty acids are generally recognized as agents that can aggravate inflammation. Oils with excessive omega-6 contents can be very dangerous to the body. Studies show that the common cooking oil has excessive omega-6 fatty acids; for this reason, it is highly contributory to inflammation. Studies likewise show that continuous consumption of trans fats can increase the risk of coronary heart disease because it raises the levels of LDL cholesterol and lowers HDL cholesterol. Moreover, other studies also show that if the omega-6 is disproportionately higher in level than that of omega-3 fatty acids, it can readily create imbalance within the human body that may lead to the onset of various diseases.

There are many types of Omega-6 fatty acids like those of linoleic acid, gamma-linolenic acid, calendic acid, and many more. However, the close correlation between omega-6 and inflammation occurs when omega-6 fatty acids begin to breakdown and form prostaglandins that promote inflammation. The prostaglandin functions in many ways. it can cause the constriction and dilation of smooth vascular muscle cells. It can also cause aggregation of platelets that may lead to inflammation.

Excessive Alcohol

alcoholMany studies on the effects of alcohol have shown that it has some healthful benefits if taken moderately. The grape wine, for example, contains a phytochemical known as flavonoid. This flavonoid is known to lower the high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP). On the other hand, excessive alcohol intakes show a significant increase in C-reactive protein and CRP is an important inflammatory biomarker of the human body.

Studies show that this increase in CRP is due to the numerous toxic byproducts produced during the breaking down process of alcohol. These byproducts can damage the liver, diminish the immune system, and stimulate inflammation. Moreover, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to an increase in the body’s uric acid levels. Excessive alcohol consumption can likewise lead to the inflammatory condition called “leaky gut” that can further develop into inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) if left untreated.

Processed Meaty Food

sausage - processed meatDiets that are heavy in processed foods, according to many studies, have been linked to chronic inflammation. This should sound an alarm to those who are fond of eating processed food for this claim is backed by dozens of studies. There are thousands of food additives that are added to processed foods, and these artificial additives, if ingested, may lead to the onset of various diseases and the aggravation of inflammation. Some of these food additives include preservatives, coloring food, flavorings like artificial sweeteners, synthetic trans fats, monosodium glutamate, and many other chemicals.

Meat is definitely not directly associated with arthritis, but it may worsen the symptoms of arthritis. Processed meat, however, contains substances called “purines.” The constant consumption of processed meat, therefore, may lead to high level of purines within the body. Higher level of purines is generally associated with high uric acid level. Hence, if you have gout, for example, you should limit your meat diet to 6 oz. as recommended by many dieticians. Moreover, you should instead be more reliant on protein sources that provide healthy cholesterols.

Dietary food, especially, those processed meat that are low in fiber may definitely cause flare-ups of inflammation as in the case of ulcerative colitis flareups. Dairy products like red meat contain sulfur that are known to cause relapses in ulcerative colitis.

Dairy Products

milkAlthough there is no direct link between inflammation flareups and the regular intake of dairy products, some scientists, however, have suggested that there may be a link between the intake of dairy products like milk and some inflammatory diseases flareups like that of Crohn’s disease. Cows, for example, can easily be infected with a microbe called “mycobacterium.” If you have ingested milk or dairy products from cows that are contaminated by this microbe, chances are, you might develop Crohn’s disease.

Dairy products consumption, however, seems to exert no adverse effects on the specific biomarkers of inflammation even on those who are overweight. Lastly, short-term consumption— based on studies conducted on 112 adult women and men—of a combination of high-fat and low-fat dairy products appears to have no adverse effects on the biomarkers of inflammation.