Exclusive Content

Foods that cause inflammation and how to avoid them

By Matt Cavallo

We are all familiar with the saying "you are what you eat." And while it's easy to forget this sage advice in our fast-paced world, the truth is that what we put into our bodies has a significant effect on our overall health. Many foods we eat today can cause inflammation which is something you want to avoid when you are living with multiple sclerosis.

There are many foods that can cause inflammation in the body. Processed foods, dairy products, red meat, and fried foods are some of the most common offenders. These foods can cause inflammation not only in the gut, but also in other parts of the body. Numerous studies have found that people who eat a lot of pre-packaged meals and snacks often have higher levels of inflammatory markers in their blood than those who don't. 

Chronic inflammation is linked to a wide range of diseases, including MS. The relationship between MS and inflammation is well documented. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these inflammatory foods. Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables can help reduce inflammation in the body. 

Avoiding processed foods and eating whole grains instead of refined carbs can also help. Exercising regularly is another important way to reduce inflammation. While you can’t completely avoid inflammation, it is possible to reduce your risk of developing it. By making a few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can help reduce inflammation in the body and boost your overall health. 

Here is a list of foods to limit if you are worried about your diet contributing to inflammation:

Processed meats 

Processed meats such as bacon, sausage, and ham have been linked to inflammation, a condition that can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. Processed meats are high in saturated fat and sodium, which can contribute to inflammation. They also contain chemicals that can damage cells and increase the risk of cancer. If you eat processed meats regularly, try to cut back or switch to unprocessed meat alternatives.

Sugary drinks

According to a new study, consuming sugary drinks can lead to inflammation. The study, which was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, looked at how drinking sugary drink, such as sodas and juice drinks, affects children's health. The researchers found that kids who drink sugary drinks are more likely to have inflammation than those who don't. Quitting sugar is tough in general and sugary drinks can be habit forming. If you drink a lot of sugary drinks, try to cut back or eliminate them completely. Make sure you drink plenty of water for thirst. If you are looking for an energy boost, try coffee or tea without any sweetener. You may not like it at first, but once you acquire the taste it is hard to go back to sweetened drinks.

Refined carbs 

A diet high in refined carbohydrates, such as those found in white flour, can lead to inflammation, a new study suggests. The study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, found that people who consumed a diet high in refined carbohydrates had increased levels of inflammation in their blood vessels. Early this year, I cut out carbs including bread and pasta, which I love and were both staples in my diet. Now that I have been off of flour-based products for about five months, I don’t crave them anymore. Subsequently, when I have allowed myself to have some bread or pasta, it made me feel lethargic after. 

Oils and fats 

Oils and fats are essential to the body, but they can also lead to inflammation. Some oils and fats are better for you than others, and it’s important to know the difference. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered “healthy” fats because they can help reduce inflammation. Omega-6 fatty acids, on the other hand, can promote inflammation. It’s important to have a balance of both types of fatty acids in your diet. Find some healthy fats that you like such as avocados or nuts and incorporate these into your diet while eliminating the unhealthy fats.

Dairy products 

Dairy products are a mainstay in the American diet, but a growing body of evidence suggests they may not be as healthy as we once thought. There are several possible explanations for these findings. Dairy products are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can contribute to inflammation and other health problems. They also contain numerous other inflammatory compounds, such as lactose, casein and whey protein. Dairy is another tough food to eliminate or reduce. Cheese, butter, and ice cream are three things I love. I used to use cream in my coffee each day as well. Now, I drink my coffee black and have eliminated the cheese, butter, and ice cream from my diet. I can tell a difference in my overall energy when I am eating dairy and when I am not. 

Artificial additives

One of the main causes of chronic inflammation is artificial additives. These are substances that are added to foods in order to improve their flavor, appearance, or shelf life. While they may seem harmless, these additives can actually have a negative effect on our health. The best way to eliminate artificial additives is to eat fresh food. My neurologist gave me a great tip for this. Shop the outside aisles in a grocery store. This is where all the fresh ingredients are. The inside aisles are all boxed and processed goods with a ton of artificial additives to increase the shelf life. Shop and eat fresh to eliminate the artificial additives.