Most people today are keenly aware of the effects of inflammation on the body. Almost every chronic disease state, including the big ones such as heart disease and cancers, aches and pains, even the aging process have an underlying inflammatory basis that we have some control over.
While it’s hard to avoid all the potential causes of inflammation, what crosses our lips and how much we move give us control over this body-wrecking problem. Like a lot of you out there, I have been reading about some of these dietary crazes blaming all sorts of different foods for causing inflammation.
In particular, the low carb/ketogenic diet people are blaming all carbohydrates as being inflammatory. This could not be further from the truth. Carbohydrates that lack fiber and water content are more inflammatory. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and seeds are very low inflammatory foods.
The carbohydrates that cause issues are refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates generally have had all the fiber and water removed and flour and sugar added. While these foods admittedly taste very good, they can cause problems when quantities are not monitored.
Artificial trans fats are also inflammatory. This would include almost all fried fast food, certain margarines and vegetable shortening, even some microwave popcorn. Vegetable oils contain needed omega six fatty acids; however, too much omega six fatty acids, such as in processed foods and the high amount of vegetable oils used in cooking, is inflammatory. Our bodies need a fine balance of all the omega fatty acids.
Processed meats also top the list of inflammatory foods. Alcohol, although some would profess a small amount is good for you, is a toxin and causes a high degree of inflammation in the body. If you’re truly health conscious, it’s probably best to avoid it completely, as the potential benefits are far outweighed by the known risks.
As you cannot avoid all inflammatory foods, moving on a regular basis with purposeful exercise to raise your heart rate is a very powerful anti-inflammatory process. Inflammation is a primary factor in almost all disease states, but it’s also one that we have some control over.
Dr. Warren Willey is a Pocatello physician. Visit his website at http://drwilley.com.