Inflammation refers to the complex biological response of the protective system of the body to harmful stimuli. Chronic inflammation leads to irritation, cell damage, and makes disease-prone. The present research suggests that chronic body-wide chronic inflammation is a leading factor in the development of many modern diseases including metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, stroke, gastrointestinal disease, arthritis, skin disease and more. (1,2)Additionally, chronic inflammation can make you disease-prone as well as age early. I am sorting out some common as well as lesser-known foods that cause inflammation. By identifying those, you can make your own decision or take control over them.
Foods that cause inflammation
Added sugar and High-Fructose Corn Syrup
With an elevated level of sugar in the blood, the numbers of pro-inflammatory cytokines increase inside the body. (3) Additionally, excessive sugar consumption produces too much Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) in combination with proteins and fats. Your body can handle a certain amount of AGEs but too many AGEs cause inflammation, oxidative stress, and damage adjacent proteins. It affects cells or tissues of the body and one of the factors of aging and age-related chronic disease and degenerative disease. (4,5)
Apart from that sugar causes cardiovascular diseases, promotes cancer, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, promotes cancers, creates addiction and more. (6) But the fact is that apart from table sugar, it hides in many names in many packaged foods. Know more about hidden names of sugar as well as novel sugar alternatives.
A 2018 published review of 30 studies in more than 242,000 adults and children as published in the journal of Obesity Facts, found a significant association between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity. Researchers also suggest reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. (7)
Artificial sweeteners, promoted as aids to weight loss and diabetes prevention, could actually promote the development of glucose intolerance and metabolic disease. Researchers believe that some gut bacteria interact with artificial sweeteners by secreting chemicals that provoke an inflammatory response, making it harder for sugar metabolism. (8)
In the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis daily consumption of diet soda was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes. (9) Another study reported these sweeteners additionally can increase the risk for metabolic syndrome, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease as well as diabetes. (10) Many soft drinks available at store selves can have artificial sweeteners. It is far better than switching to natural sweetener stevia than those artificial sweeteners.
Also, read more about food additives.
Refined carbohydrates-Processed foods
All carbohydrates are not the same. Carbohydrates from whole foods are combined with dietary fiber and other nutrients. That helps to slow and controlled the release of glucose to the bloodstream. Also, such foods give fullness, control blood sugar as well as promote beneficial growth of bacteria. On the other hand, mostly refined carbohydrates don’t contain fiber and may have a little of other nutrients. Such foods rapidly raise blood sugar levels.
Researchers suggest that refined carbohydrates promote inflammatory gut bacteria and may lead to bowel inflammation and obesity. (11, 12)Most processed foods like bread, pasta, pastries, cookies, cakes, sweets, soft drinks, candy, some cereals, and similar others contain refined carbohydrates.
Excessive Omega 6 Fatty Acids-vegetable oils
The diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors contained nearly the same quantities of omega−6 and omega−3 fatty acids. However over time with industrialization, the intake of omega-6 fatty acid increased and the omega-3 fatty acid decreased, resulting in a large increase in the omega-6/omega-3 ratio from 1:1 during evolution to 20:1 today or even higher. And in parallel overweight and obesity had increased. (13, 14) Obesity is also a condition characterized by chronic low-grade inflammation.
Your body also need omega 6 fatty acid. But a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as in present diets, promotes the development of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. (15) Numerous evidence showed decreasing the omega-6/3 ratio with high consumption of omega 6 fatty acids along with reduced intake of omega 3 fatty acids contributed to oxidative stress oxidized LDL, chronic low-grade inflammation and heart disease. Consumption of oil in the form of industrial seed oils commonly referred to as “vegetable oils” appears as the major reason for that. (16,17) And vegetable oil consumptions are increasing to a very large extent from the past.
The oil extraction method of vegetable oils
Apart from that production process from vegetable seeds or other parts of fruits plays critical roles. Some seeds are naturally oily and oil can be extracted by a mechanical process like traditional press or more modern cold press like expeller press. But industrial chemical refining generally goes through processes like the use of chemical solvent oil extraction, then heating to evaporate the solvent, very high heat hydrogenation through the reactor to increase smoke point, self-life and more stable. Then such oil goes for deodorization at very high temperatures. (18)
Mostly vegetable oils contain delicate polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oil in major. You can imagine what will happen to those delicate oils when goes under such processes. Those oils can be good with limited consumption when they don’t go under such a chemical industrialization process.
Also, read about how to choose the right cooking oil.
Artificial Trans fats
In an industrial process, manufacturers create artificial trans fats by adding hydrogen at high heat reactor to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Artificial trans fats have toxic effects on health and increase inflammation, risk of cardiovascular disease, may drive insulin resistance and type II diabetes. However, the same has not been found with natural sourced trans fats.
Grilled meat-dry or low moisture cooked foods
Like sugar food prepared under higher temperatures and dry or lower moisture levels results in higher AGEs formation. And such preparations include barbecuing, grilling, roasting, baking, frying, sautéing, broiling, searing and toasting. (19) Consumption such foods in excess lead to too much exposure to AGEs resulting in inflammation and development of the chronic disease.
It mostly depends on the heat used to cook foods as well as moisture content. Healthy cooking is cooking with low heat in the presence of moisture. Similarly, the consumption of processed meat that goes under various processes and preservation promotes cancer along with carries more risk in the development of hypertension, stroke, and heart attack. (20)
Many people try to eat healthy but ignore cooking methods. You cooking method can become an independent risk factor to make you ill. Read more about the different cooking methods and which cooking method you need to apply to cook what food.
Excessive consumption of alcohol
Moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages like red wine or beer had shown some health benefits due to their phenolic compound.
But all alcohol is not the same. Also, alcohol increases inflammatory marker C reactive protein and excessive consumption can put you at risk. (21) Apart from fatty liver disease chronic alcohol intake leads to intestinal inflammation, including alteration of intestinal gut bacteria and function, increasing the permeability of the intestinal lining. (22) Such a condition can drive to widespread inflammation in the body leading to tissue as well as organ damage. (23,24)
Many people take alcohol to sleep in night. It may give you some relieve from stress but that actually causes disruption of sleep. Know more why it causes sleep disruption.
Gluten, Casein, and other allergic foods
Gluten stimulates tight junction protein zonulin that increases intestinal permeability and further results in the development of widespread chronic inflammation, immune reactions, and many autoimmune diseases. Consuming too much gluten protein may develop health risks. If you feel not very well with the consumption of foods with gluten or feel better with a gluten-free diet then gluten is not for you.
Similarly, A1-beta casein protein usually sourced from cow milk with some particular breeds may cause inflammation and adversely affects digestive health. (25) Anecdotally, some people with arthritis and related conditions find that avoiding certain foods can reduce flares. And some others found no response. Few studies have suggested that people who drink A2-only milk may be less likely to experience digestive upset and also might have lower levels of inflammation. (26)
Several observational studies indicated an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes during childhoods with the consumption of A1 beta-casein. (27,28,29) However, there is no definitive proof presently with the clinical studies. Hence, this area needs to be evaluated with long term clinical studies.
Ultimately if you feel better with A1-beta casein-free milk, you better should avoid it. Apart from that, cow milk differs a lot from human milk.
What is A1-beta casein?
And for your information A1-beta casein and A2-beta casein are two types of casein protein present as the major amount found in milk apart from whey protein.
In a report from California Dairy Research Foundation more than 10,000 years ago before genetic modification cows produced only A2 beta-casein protein milk. But after genetic modification cows are beginning to produce A1 beta-casein variant milk protein. In general, milk from Guernsey, Jersey, Asian herds, human milk, and other variants like sheep, goat, donkeys, yaks, camel, buffalo, sheep, etc. contain mostly A2 beta-casein. And on the other hand milk from the Holstein breed (the most common dairy cow breed in Australia, Northern Europe, and the United States) carries A1 and A2 forms of beta-casein. (30,31)
If you are a people with a normal healthy condition, occasional consumption with a smaller amount of such food may not stretch your body too much but regular or frequent consumption can definitely put you at risk. Many healthy, as well as tasty recipes, are there, picking up some good will be wise. Taking control over foods that cause inflammation will definitely improve health. Some people may find difficult in overcoming craving sugar and carbs but there are scientific ways. If you know the way you won’t find it difficult to stop craving. You can develop your taste.
Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information for educational purpose only, not intended to provide one to one health consultation or replace practice of a qualified practitioner. Different people may have different health condition and may have different reaction to the same food. Hence it has been advised to consult with health care provider before application of any of above information Source and references: 1. Dregan A, Charlton J, Chowienczyk P, Gulliford MC,Chronic inflammatory disorders and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, and stroke: a population-based cohort study,Circulation. 2014 Sep 2;130(10):837-44 2.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279298/ 3.Esposito K, Nappo F, Marfella R, Giugliano G, Giugliano F, Ciotola M, Quagliaro L, Ceriello A, Giugliano D., Inflammatory cytokine concentrations are acutely increased by hyperglycemia in humans: role of oxidative stress, Circulation. 2002 Oct 15;106(16):2067-72 4. Schmidt AM, Hori O, Brett J, Yan SD, Wautier JL, Stern D., Cellular receptors for advanced glycation end products. Implications for induction of oxidant stress and cellular dysfunction in the pathogenesis of vascular lesions, Arterioscler Thromb. 1994 Oct;14(10):1521-8 5. Claudia Luevano-Contreras and Karen Chapman-Novakofski, Dietary Advanced Glycation End Products and Aging, Nutrients. 2010 Dec; 2(12): 1247–1265 6. Johnson RJ, Nakagawa T, Sanchez-Lozada LG, Shafiu M, Sundaram S, Le M, Ishimoto T, Sautin YY, Lanaspa MA., Sugar, uric acid, and the etiology of diabetes and obesity, Diabetes. 2013 Oct;62(10):3307-15 7. Maria Luger, Max Lafontan, Maira Bes-Rastrollo, Eva Winzer, Volkan Yumuk, and Nathalie Farpour-Lambert,Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Weight Gain in Children and Adults: A Systematic Review from 2013 to 2015 and a Comparison with Previous Studies,Obes Facts. 2018 Feb; 10(6): 674–693 8.https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-09/wios-gba091514.php 9. Jennifer A. 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Küllenberg de Gaudry D, Lohner S, Schmucker C, Kapp P, Motschall E, Hörrlein S, Röger C, Meerpohl JJ., Milk A1 β-casein and health-related outcomes in humans: a systematic review, Nutr Rev. 2019 May 1;77(5):278- 306. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuy063. 26.https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/healthy- eating/dairy-and-inflammation.php 27. Birgisdottir BE, Hill JP, Thorsson AV, Thorsdottir I., Lower consumption of cow milk protein A1 beta-casein at 2 years of age, rather than consumption among 11- to 14-year-old adolescents, may explain the lower incidence of type 1 diabetes in Iceland than in Scandinavia, Ann Nutr Metab. 2006;50(3):177-83. Epub 2006 Jan 10. 28. Laugesen M, Elliott R.,Ischaemic heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, and cow milk A1 beta-casein, N Z Med J. 2003 Jan 24;116(1168):U295. 29. Elliott RB, Harris DP, Hill JP, Bibby NJ, Wasmuth HE.,Type I (insulin- dependent) diabetes mellitus and cow milk: casein variant consumption, Diabetologia. 1999 Mar;42(3):292-6 30.http://edepot.wur.nl/8139 31.http://cdrf.org/2017/02/09/a2-milk-facts/