Inflammation is a very sophisticated, protective biological process, involving the immune system, which functions to remove or manage potentially harmful substances or infection-causing organisms.
Inflammation is at the root of many diseases and conditions including osteoarthritis, autoimmune diseases such as RA, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, inflammatory/irritable bowel disease, respiratory allergies, migraines, asthma, diabetes, and obesity.
Being that inflammation is at the root of these diseases, we must then look at what contributes to inflammation, allowing us to determine the culprits that contribute to pain.
We know that dietary habits play a large role in increasing inflammation, so let’s look at 5 of the top most inflammatory foods, along with how they link to the microbiome:
- Cow Dairy: Cow’s milk is one of the most inflammatory foods due to the complex proteins that most adults are not able to digest. Regular consumption can lead to GI irritation, sinus issues, asthma aggravation, and multiple skin disorders.
- Gluten: This protein found in wheat has been associated with causing a wide variety of inflammatory disorders such as IBS, autoimmune disorders, weight gain, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
- Sugar/High Fructose Corn Syrup/Sweetened Beverages: These items are known to increase the secretion of insulin, which increases stored belly fat producing proinflammatory molecules.
- Trans Fats: Trans fats have scientifically been shown to contribute to systemic inflammation and cause damage to the inner lining of blood vessels, therefore contributing to cardiovascular disease.
- Animal Fats: Consuming significant amounts of animal fats contribute to inflammation due to the high amount of a substance called arachidonic acid (AA).
Our dietary choices not only play a role in creating a pro-inflammatory response, but they are also major influencers of the microbiome, which is the collection of bacteria and yeast residing in the human gut. The microbiome is of critical importance to gastrointestinal health and transit time, metabolism, weight, and overall health.
An imbalance in this complex little ecosystem can lead to intestinal permeability or what’s referred to as “leaky gut.” Leaky gut allows partially digested food particles to cross the barrier system where immune cells get triggered and promote production of inflammatory molecules.
In conclusion, a diet that is high in fiber and whole foods, along with the occasional consumption of naturally fermented foods, while being void of hydrogenated oils, simple sugars, alcohol, and sweeteners, is a key in promoting and healthy microbiome and decreasing systemic inflammation.More information about inflammation and the microbiome, along with a full list of 10 of the top inflammatory foods, can be found in the Pain Elimination Program (PEP) Handbook at PhysicianNutrients.com.