The holidays are filled with delicious foods and delectable treats that are often one of the highlights of this time of year. Although there are benefits to letting yourself indulge and enjoy the flavors of the season, consuming too many inflammatory foods over an extended period of time can do far more harm than good.
A diet high in inflammatory foods can lead to chronic inflammation, which can cause a significant amount of stress on your bodily processes and result in symptoms such as:
- Brain fog
- High blood pressure
- Joint pain
Long-term, chronic inflammation, however, is another story. Chronic inflammation can damage healthy cells, tissues, and organs. Over time, it can lead to diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease.
Learn about how chronic inflammation affects the entire body here
In order to avoid experiencing the symptoms and conditions listed above and enjoy this holiday season, we have compiled a guide to which foods to avoid and which foods to eat when prioritizing your health:
In the United States, in particular, dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc) are likely to result in inflammation. This is because studies show that whole milk and full-fat dairy products contain saturated fats that have been linked to the development of acne, bloating, digestive issues, and more. Studies also show that those with an autoimmune condition are more likely to have an inflammatory response to dairy.
Additionally, if you are hypothyroid, calcium-fortified dairy products can impair the thyroid’s ability to absorb your medication. If you are going to consume dairy, wait until at least three or four hours after taking your medication.
Gluten is likely to trigger an immune response, resulting in inflammation, particularly in the intestinal tract. Because the gut is so interconnected to bodily functions, inflammation in the intestines can quickly result in other problems such as fatigue, malnutrition, brain fog, and more. This is because when the gut is inflamed, oftentimes the body cannot absorb as many nutrients so your body is not getting the energy from food it needs. In regards to brain fog, this is due to the fact that the gut and brain are intricately connected through millions of nerves and hormonal communication. The bacteria in the gut microbiome also can significantly influence brain health.
Learn more about the gut and brain connection here
Thus, if you constantly feel groggy and lack alertness after eating wheat or gluten products, it may be best to avoid gluten to stay energized.
Sources of gluten include grain products such as bread, pasta, cereal, and other grain products (specifically, wheat).
Alcohol promotes the overgrowth of bacteria in the gut microbiome, which can significantly impact gut health. Specifically, an overgrowth of bacteria can lead to an increase in harmful chemicals called endotoxins, which promote inflammation.
Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption may cause the intestinal barrier to become permeable, allowing food particles and other harmful substances to enter the bloodstream. This condition is called leaky gut syndrome and is associated with chronic inflammation.
Learn more about leaky gut syndrome here
Sugar is thought to stimulate the production of free fatty acids in the liver. When the body tries to digest and process these free fatty acids, it results in compounds that can trigger systemic inflammation throughout the body.
Several animal studies have shown a diet high in added or refined sugar can cause obesity, insulin resistance, and leaky gut syndrome, all of which are linked to inflammation. Additionally, human studies have reinforced this as researchers have confirmed a link between refined sugar and higher inflammatory markers.
More specifically, a small study of 29 “healthy” individuals found that consuming only 40 grams of added sugar from just one 375-ml can of soda per day led to an increase in inflammatory markers, insulin resistance, and LDL cholesterol. Most of these participants also gained weight.
Sources of refined sugar include sugar additives, candy, baked goods, low-fat and diet foods, ready-made meals, and more.
Processed Foods Processed and fried foods can also cause inflammation as the chemicals and free fatty acids they contain can negatively alter your gut health.
Thus, it is best to avoid anything packaged and focus on a whole-food diet.
Foods to Eat
Inflammation and consequently inflammatory foods are mainly damaging because they cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is what is largely responsible for cellular damage throughout the body.
Thus, in order to combat oxidative stress, it is best to eat a diet high in antioxidants, as they can slow and prevent cellular damage.
Foods high in antioxidants include:
- Dark chocolate
- Kale & other dark, leafy greens
- Goji berries
Learn about which powerful antioxidants you may not be getting here
As this article demonstrated, one of the main issues with inflammatory foods is the stress that causes the gut that then results in other symptoms. Therefore, in order to best prepare your gut for holiday meals, it is best to supplement with a probiotic in the morning to prepare your gut for the day ahead.
If you are looking for a high-quality probiotic, try HoltraCeuticals’ Ultrabiotics, a pharmaceutical-grade, doctor-formulated supplement made with all-natural ingredients.