Inflammation is simply an act of self-defense and a process in which the body's immune system responds to stimuli, including bacteria, injuries, and other harmful chemicals. But sometimes the body perceives normally healthy cells as harmful, therefore attacking itself, and diagnosed as an autoimmune disorder. In rheumatoid arthritis, a type of autoimmune disease, joints are the primary target and may become inflamed, subsequently inducing pain, redness, stiffness and swelling. The primary goal of arthritis is to reduce inflammation with medication, surgery, or diet management, particularly by reducing foods that cause joint inflammation and pain.
4 Foods That Cause Joint Inflammation and Pain
1. Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates include white breads, pastas, cereals, and pastries and primarily gives carbs their poor reputation. Unlike whole grains, refined carbs essentially add on calories without any sort of nutritional value, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Diets inadequate in fiber have been suggested to increase C-reactive protein, a substance produced in the liver that respond to inflammation. Additionally, these products often contain added sugar, which also displays inflammatory properties.
2. Processed Meats
The concern of red and processed meats sparked just a mere years ago when word hit the streets regarding their link to cancer. But the more untold story is processed meats greater potential to carry more advanced glycation end products (AGEs) than other meats, particularly when it comes to cooking them under high temperatures. The accumulation of AGEs in joints can induce greater inflammation and cause pain and other unpleasant symptoms.
3. Fried Foods
Foods can entirely lose their healthfulness when fried in oils, especially with the use of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (also notoriously known as trans fat). Trans fat has not only been associated with heart disease, but may also contribute to inflammation. Fried foods, especially when prepared in high heat oils, may also contain more AGEs.
4. Corn Oil
Although the rise of omega-3s in the health world continues to grow, you may be a little less familiar with its distant relative, or omega-6 fatty acids. But despite its namely unfamiliarity, people are more than likely consuming more omega-6s than they realize. Consuming a greater load of omega-6 sources, including corn oil, has been implied to induce inflammation.
All-in-all, the focus is not necessarily eliminating one single food, but modifying typical dietary patterns in a Westernized diet - reducing the intake of refined starches, sugar, saturated and trans fats while increasing foods rich in antioxidants and fiber from fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids are also encouraged, including fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Regular physical activity and cessation from smoking are also lifestyle factors that can reduce inflammation risk.
Reference: Giugliano D, Ceriello A, Esposito K. The effects of diet on inflammation: emphasis on the metabolic syndrome. Journal of the American College of Cardiology.