When you get hurt or take on some suspicious bacteria, your body responds by sending cells to the affected site. These cells help to protect your body, prevent the spread of infection, and repair any damaged tissue. This process results in inflammation, which is often characterized by redness and swelling.
Inflammation is a natural immune response that is often necessary to your health and wellbeing, but chronic inflammation may play a role in autoimmune diseases and other disorders. Localized to the gut, inflammation can cause extensive damage, potentially resulting in digestive issues, bowel disorders, and increased intestinal permeability. While inflammation in the gut may be triggered by various factors, food is one of the most prominent. Read on to learn about some foods that cause inflammation.
Why Your Gut Health is Important
Your gut is home to a diverse ecosystem of bacteria known as your gut flora. Gut bacteria have been studied for their role in digestion, vitamin synthesis, and protection from invasive bacteria, among other potential health benefits. When your gut contains too much “bad” bacteria or not enough “good” bacteria, the flora becomes imbalanced, resulting in a state of dysbiosis. This may manifest physically in the form of chronic inflammation, digestive problems, weight gain, and other health issues.
Maintaining a healthy, well-balanced gut microbiome is considered to be essential to preventing ongoing inflammation and G. I. damage. Physicians, nutritionists, and health advocates agree that the ideal solution is eating the foods that will not trigger an inflammatory response.
Common Inflammatory Foods
While many foods may contribute to inflammation and gut damage, some of the top inflammatory foods are common in the standard American diet (SAD) and in Western diets generally.
1. Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup
The Western diet, unfortunately, tends to contain high amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. These high levels of sugar and high fructose corn syrup may contribute to inflammation through a variety of means. High sugar diets tend to contribute to weight gain, which has been associated with inflammation. Sugar also initiates the production of advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. These are compounds that form when sugar binds with protein or fat. AGEs are known to contribute to oxidative stress, physical signs of aging, and inflammation.
Furthermore, your gut bacteria are not huge fans of sugar or high fructose corn syrup, both of which may deplete populations of good bacteria in your gut. This may result in dysbiosis, which may lead to increased intestinal permeability and a leaky gut. With increased permeability, undigested food particles, bacteria, and toxins may pass from your intestines into your bloodstream, leading to a systemic and/or chronic inflammatory response.
Sugar also fuels the production of bacterial biofilms. In the mouth, dental plaque (biofilm) holds acid-producing bacteria against the tooth enamel causing decay. In the intestinal tract, biofilms can harbor both beneficial and pathogenic bacteria in a sticky matrix that shields microbes and can cause damage to the intestinal tract. Biofilms can make bacteria more antibiotic-resistant.
2. Refined Carbohydrates
While carbohydrates often get a bad rap, refined carbs are the main form that you need to watch out for. Refined carbs generally refer to highly processed carbohydrates that have had most of their dietary fiber and nutritional content removed. Refined carbohydrates often get grouped with sugars, primarily for their effect on blood sugar. Refined carbohydrates easily break down into glucose, raising blood sugar levels rapidly and increasing your risk of obesity. Similar to sugars, refined carbohydrates may also contribute to the growth of inflammatory gut bacteria.
3. Trans Fats
Your body needs fats, but some are healthier than others. Trans fats, sometimes labeled as “partially hydrogenated oils,” are potentially the unhealthiest fats you can put in your body. These fats are made through a process called hydrogenization, during which hydrogen is added to healthier liquid fats to turn them solid and make them more stable and extend shelf life.
The problem is that trans fats present no actual nutritional benefit and have no safe level of consumption. Ingesting trans fats has been associated with high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and other inflammatory markers, suggesting that it increases inflammation. Furthermore, trans fats are known to reduce HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and impair endothelial cell function in the arteries, posing a potential threat for heart health.
4. Processed Meats
Processed meats are known to contain more advanced glycation end products than other meats. This comes from the method of production. High processing and cooking at high temperatures create more AGEs, which are known to contribute to inflammation and physical signs of aging. Studies link processed meats and damage to the large intestine. Common processed meats include:
- Beef jerky
- Smoked meat
Heavy alcohol consumption comes with plenty of health problems, from liver issues to mood disorders, but it can also contribute to inflammation. Drinking more alcohol causes an increase in inflammatory markers. Heavy drinking may also contribute to a leaky gut, which may further increase inflammatory response.
None of these foods on their own will result in widespread inflammation, but food is the easiest inflammation trigger that you can control. By avoiding inflammatory foods and eating a microbiome-friendly diet, you can reduce inflammation and prevent damage to your gut. In addition to an anti-inflammatory diet, consider adding a bovine colostrum supplement, like Colostrum-LD® from Sovereign Laboratories. Colostrum contains bioactives which help mediate inflammation. Daily use may help heal your gut and offer protection from inflammation.