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Many of the foods common to American diets today are now known to contribute to a chain of events known as the Inflammation Cascade. Experts say that reducing or completely eliminating these foods from your diet can significantly reduce pain and inflammation in muscles and joints.
Archeologists have found evidence that soon after farming and consuming larger amounts of these foods that signs of health problems and afflictions began to emerge and become more prevalent in human society.
Cereals and grains, mostly in the form of breads and pastas, make up a large part of today’s average American diet. What most people don’t realize is that all grains are highly acidic in nature, and also contain gluten, a common allergen. Most breads and pastas are made with highly processed and bleached flours, which increase their acidity as well. Starches in these foods are broken down by your body into sugars, which are then stored as fat.
Even so-called “whole grain” products often start with the same processed, bleached-out flour, and have their “whole grains” added later. Read the label carefully to make sure it doesn’t contain “refined flour” or “refined wheat flour” to know that it is made from whole grains.
Polyunsaturated oils, like safflower, sunflower, corn, peanut, and soy, are high in omega-6 fatty acids that your body converts to arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid has a pro-inflammatory influence on the body. These oils also contain almost no omega-3 fatty acids, found in flaxseed and olive oils, which are known to soothe inflammation. Trans-fats, hydrogenated, and partially hydrogenated oils should be avoided as well, since these create free-radicals which are foods that cause inflammation.
High levels of insulin in the body trigger our immune systems, as well as activating enzymes that raise levels of arachidonic acids in our blood, leading to inflammation. Processed sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup, and foods that are known to have high glycemic indexes cause a spike in the body’s insulin levels. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a system for rating carbohydrates, or saccharides, based on their immediate effect on the blood glucose level.
Highly processed meats, such as lunch meats, sausages, or hot dogs, contain large amounts of nitrites. Nitrites have long been associated with increased inflammation and chronic disease. Often people are born or develop allergies to nitrites without knowing it, and only through a doctors test do they find out they are allergic to certain foods containing nitrites. A simple adjustment to their diet will eliminate many of the reactions they become afflicted with from consuming such foods as processed meats or peanut butter, or bananas.
Saturated fats are found in red meat, dairy, and eggs. While these foods are an important source of minerals and vitamins, they also contain arachidonic acid. Do not break egg yolks prior to cooking. When the yolk of an egg, high in saturated fats, is mixed with the white, while still raw, arachidonic acid is formed. Some arachidonic acid in your diet is necessary for proper health, but too much is associated with increased inflammation. Pick lean cuts of red meat to cut down on the amount of saturated fats, or stick to poultry, venison, or fish.
Although there hasn’t been any formal research, it has long been believed that members of the nightshade family of plants, such as tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant, can make inflammation in muscles and joints worse. These vegetables contain a chemical called solanine which can trigger pain and inflammation in some people.
Note that people develop allergies over time to some foods and drinks. It stands to reason too, then, that over time you should see a marked improvement in how you feel when you know which foods cause inflammation, and which foods reduce inflammation that you adopt a diet that can relieve pain or perhaps prevent it in the first place.
So, with all the foods to avoid for inflammation, and all the foods causing inflammation, what can you do? Bodybuilders have long known the value of eating with as much variety as possible in order to receive as many nutrients from as many different foods as possible.
With today’s vast and ample supplies of conventional supermarkets, as well as the many Asian and Indian markets, it is conceivable that virtually every nutrient and flavor can be enjoyed. Meal planning plus diets rich in nutrients as well as flavors enhanced with spices and herbs from different parts of the world can also be exciting as well as palatable.
For a free glycemic index database that is very comprehensive and information about the GI of specific foods go to www.glycemicindex.com.