11 Ways You're Inadvertently Causing Inflammation

Written by Lori Shemek, Ph.D.

We’ve all experienced inflammation. Think of that sprained, swollen ankle, that cut finger, or that miserable head cold. Inflammation makes its presence known in a rather loud, unmistakable way; it hurts, it can be swollen, and warm to the touch. This is acute inflammation and is a beneficial and necessary part of our immune system.

However, when inflammation doesn’t heal but instead, continues to spew out low levels of inflammatory compounds, it becomes chronic or silent inflammation. This continual process is the core cause of most illness, disease, faster-aging and weight gain. A powerful tool to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store.

Here are 11 ways you're inadvertently creating inflammation:

1. You're not drinking enough water.

When cells are deprived of this essential nutrient, cellular function slows down, nutrients are not delivered adequately, your metabolism slows, and this can affect every organ in the body from your heart to your skin. A lack of adequate water intake can result in serious health conditions along with fatigue, foggy thinking, headaches, joint pain, hunger, cravings, weight gain and much more. Drink a minimum of half your body weight in ounces of water daily.

2. You're eating the wrong type of grains.

Choose whole grains that have not been stripped of their fiber and nutrients. In contrast, grains that are refined and on the ingredient list labeled as ‘wheat’ or ‘wheat flour’ (as opposed to ‘whole wheat’) create an inflammatory response identical to sugar. Opt instead for whole grains such as whole oats, brown rice or quinoa.

3. You're drinking diet soda.

Diet sodas contain artificial, laboratory-made sweeteners that can lead to an increased insulin response that can trigger weight gain, type 2 diabetes and other inflammatory health conditions. Make a lateral shift: choose sparkling water flavored with fruit or cucumbers or sodas sweetened with natural stevia.

4. You're eating processed foods.

Processed foods are inflammatory and one of the reasons many people are overweight and/or sick. Every country that has adopted the highly processed diet becomes unhealthy. Processed foods such as fast foods and junk foods are created to be highly rewarding and overconsumption.

5. You're regularly eating sugar.

Sugar is the number one inflammatory “food.” Sugar and its cousin, high fructose corn syrup, are two of the many sweet culprits that can have serious inflammatory health consequences including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and even aging skin.

6. You're missing cultured foods.

Cultured foods such as yogurt or sauerkraut promote an abundance of healthy gut bacteria that fight inflammation. Cultured foods also boost your immunity and help you lose weight.

7. You aren't getting enough leafy greens.

Dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach, kale, broccoli, chard, and collards) are packed with anti-inflammatory nutrients that reverse inflammation in the body.

8. You're getting too little Omega-3 fats (and too many Omega 6 Fats)

Omega 3 fats help to effectively reverse inflammation. There is an imbalance between omega 3 fats and omega 6 fats in the average diet. Both types of fat are essential for optimal health and can only be found in our diet.

However, most people should aim for more Omega 3 and less Omega 6. Foods that pack in Omega 3 are wild salmon, sardines, walnuts, flax seeds, and fish oil supplements.

9. You're using the wrong cooking oils.

Swap out inflammatory cooking oils such as vegetable oil, canola oil, soy oil or corn oil. They have a very high omega-6 content and very low omega-3 content, which encourages inflammation. Instead, use anti-inflammatory oils such as olive oil, macadamia nut oil, coconut oil or red palm fruit oil.

10. You're not exercising.

Not regularly moving your body can create inflammation. Exercising promotes healthy cellular function and reduces the markers for inflammation. Almost any type of workout that raises your heart rate counts, such as brisk walking, playing tennis, mowing the lawn, or even gardening.

11. You're carrying excess weight.

Every fat cell, if overstuffed with fat, produces compounds that promote a vicious cycle of weight gain and inflammation. Drop the excess weight and your inflammation will decrease as well.

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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