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[3-Minute Blog] Can Certain Foods Increase Your Inflammation?

Chronic inflammation can have a negative impact on your health. That much has already been established from my previous article.

My goal with these 3-minute blogs is to give you simple but practical advice which you can begin to incorporate into your life in order to achieve a healthier lifestyle. When equipped with the correct knowledge, you can make the right choices when it comes to food. 

On that note, our focus today is on reducing or eliminating foods that can cause inflammation. If you are motivated to live a healthier life, then reducing inflammation in your body is definitely the best way to start. 

What you eat has a significant impact on the level of inflammation in your body. Without getting too scientifical, I would like to talk about three foods that no doubt trigger inflammation.

Sugar

Sugar is bad for us. That’s certainly not news for you. In 5 Dangers of Sugar No One Talks About I’ve already mentioned the disastrous effects of sugar. If you aren’t aware of the risks that sugar poses, I highly recommend you to read that article. 

Most of the risks are directly linked to sugar’s ability to increase inflammation. 

Moderation is good in all but sugar. Research from the University of Zurich confirms that just a can of soda containing 40 grams of sugar (equivalent to 8 spoonfuls) led to an increase in inflammatory markers. 

A diet that is high in added sugar and refined carbohydrates increases inflammation like kerosine increases flames!  

Reducing your daily intake of sugar is definitely the way to start reducing any inflammation. If you are looking for sugar alternatives, here is one of my most-read articles of all time: 6 Healthy Alternatives to Table Sugar.

Refined Carbs

Refined carbs are from grain products that have been processed. They are forms of sugars and starches that don’t exist in nature. They come from whole natural foods but have been altered in some way or another by processing, to “refine” them. An excellent example of a refined carb is white flour. White flour is refined to get that white and airy texture which is great for baking but has virtually zero nutrient value.

Several studies suggest eating too many refined carbohydrates increases inflammation in your body. This Australian study suggests that even a single slice of white bread or pasta (50 grams) can elevate your inflammation level.

It’s important to note that not all carbs are equal. In Why Carb’s Aren’t As Bad As You Think, I’ve explained the difference between the types of carbs. 

Unhealthy Fat: Trans Fat & Vegetable Oil 

Fat is healthy, and we should strive to get healthy fat in our daily diet. In The Fat Dilemma, I explain the healthy fats to eat as well as the right amounts. 

While healthy fat is a health enhancer, unhealthy fat can be a health destroyer. Most unhealthy fats will increase the level of inflammation in our body. 

Of all the unhealthy fats, the worst one is an artificial fat called trans fat. This fat is produced through hydrogenation, which is a chemical process that converts liquid vegetable oil into solid fat. Artificial trans fats are mostly found in margarine, french fries, packaged cookies, pastries, and in all processed foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. 

Vegetable oil such as that from canola, soybean, sunflower etc. contains omega-6. Omega-6 is beneficial when the intake is balanced with omega-3. However, when the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 goes up, the level of inflammation level goes up too. 

So skip the trans fat and reduce the vegetable oil intake as much as you can. 

Three Take Away Lessons:

  1. Skip the sugar or try alternatives 
  2. Limit your intake of refined carbs. When possible, swap it with healthier natural carbs. 
  3. Abandon unhealthy fats as they do more bad than good to your body. 

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Within the framework of Islam and real-science, you’ve nothing to lose, except your fat!