Nutrition and inflammation?
When referring to inflammation control, diet comes as one of the most significant factors that might either diminish the inflammatory process or event worsen it.
As a reminder, mediators located in our microbiome control inflammation. Indeed, the quality of our food intake might act directly on the inflammatory process and also that a healthy gut is a condition to prevent inflammation from settling in. Damage to our gut lining can promote diseases associated with chronic inflammation conditions such as asthma, allergy, obesity, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, arthritis, etc.
Recent researches point to a rise in inflammatory diseases mostly linked to a change in our modern western diets. An increase in the consumption of added sugars, refined carbohydrates, fatty acids, and processed foods is one of the reasons for this.
Let's have a close look at them!
Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates
White sugar (or sucrose) is different from fructose (sugar from fruit). It is essential to avoid sucrose, and stick to fructose and low GI carbohydrates (wholemeal cereal, beans, lentils, quinoa).
Indeed, a high intake of white sugar (sucrose) might have the following effects:
- Induce high blood sugar level peaks, triggering hyperglycemia. This situation is followed by hypoglycemia that will create a rise in cortisol levels and therefore result in inflammation.
- Insulin is the hormone that our body produces to metabolize sugar. When having to deal with an excessive amount of sugar, our cells become insulin resistant. When this happens, sugar is no longer metabolized into glucose, but into visceral fat. It promotes inflammatory adipocytes, creating more inflammation.
- Although sweet, white sugar increases the acidity level in the blood (pH). And acidity is pro-inflammatory.
- Eating too much white sugar might nourish pathological bacteria, such as staphylococcus and candida albicans. It leads to a rise in toxins, thus generating inflammation.
If you do think sweet, think fruit! And if you think real sweets, make them occasional, home made and sugar free!
As with white sugar, a transformation in food production modes has led to a change in the quality of fat consumption. A rise in saturated fats associated with an increase of omega 6 fatty acids have led to a highly pro-inflammatory nutritional routine.
With the increase of sunflower and corn oil consumption, the average omega 6 - omega 3 ratio has evolved from 1 to 1 to 20 to 1. We need to observe a proper balance between saturated fats, omega 6, and omega 3 fatty acids.
Improper fat intake might promote inflammation, leading to cardiovascular diseases, muscle, tendon and joint pain, sleeping disorders, hormonal dysfunction.
It is essential to include omega 3 rich foods such as nuts, chia seeds, hemp oil or seeds, flax seeds, algae, every day!
Ice cream, frozen desserts, salad dressings and sauces, canned and other processed foods (flour, canned beans, spreads) are just a few examples of foods containing additives (emulsifiers, artificial sweeteners, coloring, and acidity regulator).
Additives might have a destructive effect on our gut and our microbiome. They might attack the width of our gut lining, making it permeable to toxins and therefore generating a low-grade inflammatory syndrome. This leaky gut syndrome is one of the leading causes of depression and anxiety, prevalent in our society.
Simple nutrition makes us healthy. Local, non-processed, organic foods, complex carbohydrates, and good quality fats are the first step to a wholesome diet.
Discover aliments with which you might prevent inflammation. Read our October article "6 Super Foods to Prevent Training Inflammation".
Author: Nutritionist Marie-Noëlle Bourgeois, Bounce Up Micronutrition