Ever since the discovery of the Gut-Brain Axis within this decade, researchers are in a race to explore new treatments for psychiatric conditions. Over the past years, a lot of research was successful in shining a light on the effect of gut microbiome on mood and memory. Most of these covered the use of probiotics, which are basically bacteria used as a food supplement. At first, research on the role of gut microbiome appeared to be limited to its use as a supplement, however, a new study from Oxford University suggests that gut microbiomes can have a bigger role other than solely as probiotics.
In the study, researchers are urging the scientific community to consider live bacteria as a new form of psychiatric treatment. This new drug class of “psychobiotics” may hold the key to safer and more effective treatments for mental disorders.
The concept of using probiotics as an alternative to hard drugs may not seem as far-fetched as it sounds. Numerous studies have pointed out that probiotic activity can improve inflammation, reduce depression and even control social anxiety much like typical drug store formulations. Although most of the studies are still in its early stages, it certainly warrants serious consideration. Given how most psychiatric medications have innumerable side effects, a safe and accessible alternative is definitely welcome in the field of mental health.
For now, as the push to make psychobiotics a legitimate treatment for mental disorders is just gaining momentum, we can still enjoy the benefits of a healthy gut-brain axis by consuming foods that are rich in probiotics. It may take a long time before we see psychobiotics written on a prescription pad, but the researchers are optimistic that this is eventually the next step in psychopharmacology.
Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood?
Psychobiotics and the Manipulation of Bacteria–Gut–Brain Signals
Diabetes reversal has become a subject of interest in many quarters; patients, clinicians, and researchers are looking for ways to nip this rising epidemic in the bud. Very soon, Big Pharma may be forced to take a harder look at their diabetes management approach.
A recent study by the University of Cambridge is pointing at weight loss as The Ultimate for diabetes reversal, but before getting to this study, let’s define the terms.
What Is Diabetes Reversal?
Diabetes reversal means that a person previously diagnosed with diabetes is now able to maintain normal blood sugar levels without the use of diabetes medication. It also implies that this person can have a regular non-diabetic diet without spiking glucose levels. Diabetes reversal is mostly associated with type 2 diabetes which is influenced by diet and lifestyle factors.
Weight loss has been linked to reversal of type 2 diabetes in previous studies as well. This is because excess fat in the body affects the production of insulin and sensitivity to insulin as well.
Other research has shown that bariatric surgery can reverse type 2 diabetes effectively.
Study Linking Diabetes Reversal To Weight Loss
A clinical trial that was conducted by New Castle University showed that nearly 50% of individuals with type 2 diabetes achieved reversal after a weight-loss intervention that was conducted for six months.
The study involved 280 participants with type 2 diabetes. Half of them were put on a strict weight-loss program with restricted calorie intake through a liquid diet. Throughout the study duration, the participants did not take diabetes medication. The other half of the group continued with usual care of diabetes medication. After one year, 46% of people in the diet group achieved reversal which means normal blood sugar levels without taking medication.
One notable observation was that the people who had achieved reversal had sustained improvement in pancreatic beta-cell function. This research appears to show that weight loss can revive these cells so that they work well again. Beta cells produce insulin in the pancreas, and if beta cells can be “re-awakened” through weight loss, many diabetes patients can regain control over their blood sugar levels and return to a non-diabetic state. These results were astonishing as it was earlier believed that beta-cell function is irreversibly lost in patients with type 2 diabetes.
The study also found that people who had been recently diagnosed stood a better chance of reversing their diabetes. The mean elapsed time since diagnosis for those who didn’t achieve reversal was 3.8 years while the mean for those who succeeded was 2.7 years. This further stresses the importance of early diagnosis and intervention.
Why is Diabetes Reversal Important?
People can live with diabetes for many years; however, a number of factors make diabetes reversal very appealing and are categorized as non-life threatening and life-threatening factors.
Non- Life-Threatening Risks of Diabetes
Once a person receives the diagnosis, they have to be on life-long medication, unless reversal happens. This can be painstaking on many fronts. There is the high cost of purchasing diabetic medications and the inconvenience of having to take meds on a daily basis. When you fail to take meds or eat appropriate diet, there is the risk of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. These two can present with the following symptoms:
Unexplained weight loss
Presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat that happens when there’s not enough available insulin)
Frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections
Cardiovascular disease. Diabetes increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis).
Nerve damage. High sugar levels in blood can injure the walls of blood vessels that nourish the nerves. This will lead to a gradual loss of sensation in the limbs which are mostly affected. Sometimes this leads to a complete loss of sensation, loss of function, and possibly amputation.
When the nerves in the gut are affected, a person may suffer from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, it may lead to erectile dysfunction.
Kidney damage. Diabetes can damage the vessel in the kidneys that filter out compounds from the urine. When these compounds build up in the kidneys, they will cause toxicity and kidney damage in the long run. Kidney failure is the hallmark of end stage kidney disease and is only managed by regular dialysis or kidney transplant which can be very costly.
Alzheimer’s disease. Type 2 diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Looking at the possible complications that may come with the diagnosis of diabetes, reversal seems the only safe way out.
The consumption of vegetable oils has increased dramatically in the past century. Contrary to what we’ve been told, industrial seed oils such as soybean, canola, and corn oils are not “heart healthy” or otherwise beneficial for our bodies and brains; in fact, plenty of research indicates that these oils are making us sick. In this article, we take you through the industrial seed oil history, the adverse health effects of consuming these oils, and what dietary fats you should eat instead.
1. What Are Seed Oils?
Industrial seed oils are highly processed oils extracted from soybeans, corn, rapeseed (the source of canola oil), cottonseed, and safflower seeds. They were introduced into the American diet in the early 1900s.
2. How Are Industrial Seed Oils Made?
The general process used to create industrial seed oils is anything but natural. The oils extracted from soybeans, corn, cottonseed, safflower seeds, and rapeseeds must be refined, bleached, and deodorized before they are suitable for human consumption.
First, seeds are gathered from the soy, corn, cotton, safflower, and rapeseed plants.
Next, the seeds are heated to extremely high temperatures; this causes the unsaturated fatty acids in the seeds to oxidize, creating byproducts that are harmful to human and animal health.
The seeds are then processed with a petroleum-based solvent, such as hexane, to maximize the amount of oil extracted from them.
Next, industrial seed oil manufacturers use chemicals to deodorize the oils which have a very off-putting smell once extracted. This deodorization process produces trans fats.
Finally, more chemicals are added to improve the color of the industrial seed oils.
Altogether, industrial seed oil processing creates an energy-dense, nutrient-poor oil that containschemical residues, trans fats, and oxidized byproducts.
3. Why are they bad for you?
Linoleic Acid Could be Increasing Our Risk of Obesity and Related Health Problems
From experiments in mice, increasing the intake of linoleic acid from 1% to 8% may result in brain signals that stimulate greater food consumption and promote body fattening. Greater intake of linoleic acid seems to mask a sense of fullness and to increase the size of fat cells.
Vegetable Oils Contain an Unnatural Amount of Omega-6 Fats
When It Comes to Omega-6, quality matters. While industrial seed oils are high in omega-6, there are also plenty of whole, fresh foods that naturally contain omega-6 fatty acids including nuts, poultry, and avocados.
Essential fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) that we humans cannot make ourselves and must, therefore, consume in our diets. They come in two varieties: omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. Upon consumption, omega-6 fatty acids give rise to arachidonic acid and potent metabolites that are primarily pro-inflammatory in nature including prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B4. Omega-3 fatty acids such as ALA, EPA, and DHA, on the other hand, give rise to anti-inflammatory derivatives.
A delicate balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fattyacids must be maintained in the body to promote optimal health. A high intake of omega-6 fatty acids, combined with low omega-3 intake, leads to an imbalance in pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory mediators producing a state of chronic inflammation that contributes to numerous chronic disease processes.
Vegetable Oils are Unnaturally Produced, Highly Refined, and Extracted Using Heat and Chemicals
Factory-processed PUFA oils are created through measures of high heat and extreme pressure exposing the oil to all sorts of oxidative damage, polished off with a good dumping of chemical solvents to get every last bit of that profit-producing oil out of the seeds, or corn, or soy. Some of the chemical (usually hexane) remains, and yet another chemical is added to deodorize the rancid PUFA oil’s stench. In that process, the small amount of omega-3 present in oils like canola, actually transforms into trans fatty acid. And finally, carcinogenic BHT and BTA are added as chemical preservatives, since any naturally-occurring preservative substances, such as antioxidant vitamin E which were once naturally found in the food, have been thoroughly killed off in processing.
Vegetable Oils Contribute to Excess Inflammation and Free Radical Damage.
Polyunsaturated Fats are very fragile and oxidize very easily. Free-radical forming oxidation of the PUFA happens when it is exposed to heat, light, or oxygen. This is pretty hard to avoid that when you’re cooking with these fragile oils and most restaurants exclusively use these oils not only for cooking, but for extreme high-heat frying.
Excessive inflammation in the body from PUFAs happens because of the presence of free radicals formed in the processing of the industrial oils (like vegetable and canola), which renders them rancid. Free radicals, unattached and needing a place to land, attack cell membranes and red blood cells and cause damage to DNA and RNA strands leading to cellular mutations in the body’s tissues. In skin, it causes wrinkles and premature aging. In blood vessels, they cause the buildup of plaque. In tissues and organs, it can set the stage for tumors to form. You get the idea. Free radicals are bad, bad news, and they’re ever-abundant in industrial PUFA oils.
Many Vegetable Oils are Hydrogenated and Can Be Filled with Trans Fats.
PUFA’s are at their very worst when they are partially or fully hydrogenated. This chemical process takes place in factories, and it’s used to make PUFA’s solid at room temperature and more “shelf stable”. Trans fat is the artery-clogging fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened to make margarine, vegetable shortening, and often vegan butters and cheeses, etc., as well. Trans fats prevent the synthesis of prostacyclin which is necessary to keep your blood flowing. When your arteries cannot produce prostacyclin, blood clots form, and you may succumb to sudden death.
4. What Health Conditions are Linked to Industrial Seed Oils?
Asthma: Consuming industrial seed oils may increase your risk of asthma. A high intake of omega-6 fatty acids, such as those present in industrial seed oils, relative to omega-3 fatty acids increases pro-inflammatory mediators associated with asthma.
Autoimmune Disease: Industrial seed oils may promote autoimmunity by raising the body’s omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio and by increasing oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.
Cognition and Mental Health: Industrial seed oils are particularly harmful to the brain. A high omega-6-to-omega-3 fatty acid ratio predisposes individuals to depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, and dementia, and canola oil consumption is linked to worsened memory and impaired learning ability in Alzheimer’s disease. Trans fats, which end up in industrial seed oils unintentionally as a consequence of chemical and heat processing, and intentionally during the process of hydrogenation, are associated with increased risks of dementia and, interestingly, aggression.
Diabetes and Obesity: Research in mice indicates that consuming high levels of linoleic acid, the primary fatty acid in industrial seed oils, alters neurotransmitter signaling, ultimately increasing food consumption and weight gain. In mice, a diet high in soybean oil induces obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, and fatty liver disease, and some animal research also suggests that canola oil may cause insulin resistance.
Heart Disease: Researcher James DiNicolantonio has presented a theory called the “oxidized linoleic acid theory of coronary heart disease” that links the consumption of linoleic acid-rich industrial seed oils with cardiovascular disease.
IBS and IBD: Research suggests that industrial seed oils may harm gut health, contributing to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In one study, mice fed a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids from corn oil experienced increases in pro-inflammatory gut bacteria; these changes favor the development of gastrointestinal pathologies among many other chronic diseases.
Inflammation: A high omega-6 intake from industrial seed oils promotes chronic inflammation. The consumption of both partially hydrogenated industrial seed oils and non-hydrogenated soybean oil is associated with elevations in C-reactive protein, TNF-alpha, and interleukin-6, which are biomarkers of systemic inflammation.
Infertility: Approximately 9 percent of men and 11 percent of women in the United States have impaired fertility. While many factors are contributing to soaring rates of infertility, one overlooked cause may be our high consumption of industrial seed oils. Infertile men exhibit a significantly elevated omega-6-to-omega-3 fatty acid ratio compared to fertile men. In animal studies of female mammals, a high intake of omega-6 fatty acids causes poor reproductive outcomes.
Macular Degeneration: Industrial seed oils may be harmful to the eyes. A high intake of omega-6 fatty acids increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes progressive vision loss and eventual blindness. Imbalanced levels of omega-6 consumption may contribute to eye problems by promoting inflammation and by displacing the omega-3 fatty acid DHA which is crucial for vision.
Osteoarthritis: In individuals with osteoarthritis, there’s an association between omega-6 fatty acids and the presence of synovitis, an inflammation of the membrane that lines joint cavities. Conversely, an inverse relationship has been found between omega-3 fatty acid consumption and cartilage loss in the knee as indicated by MRI. Since industrial seed oils contribute a large amount of omega-6 fatty acids to the diet, avoiding these oils may be beneficial for those with or at risk of osteoarthritis.
5. Which Oils Should You Use for Cooking?
Tallow/ Suet (beef fat)
Lard/Bacon Fat (pork fat)
Goose, Duck or Chicken Fat
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil*
Other fats (not necessarily for cooking, but essential to good health) include meats, eggs, dairy, and fish (nuts are also good in moderation as they have a high level of polyunsaturated fats).
* olive oil and avocado oil are both high in monounsaturated fats which are moderately stable so they are best used in non-heat or low heat, avoid extreme high-heat cooking. They are also great in salad dressings, homemade mayonnaise, for drizzling, etc.
You can tell if particular oil is chemically processed by simply reading the label.
AVOID all fats, oils, and the products that contain either of them if the following processing terms are listed ANYWHERE on ANY food label:
Cold-PROCESSED (do not confuse this trick phrase with Cold-PRESSED)
INSTEAD, look for these safer processing terms on your fat/oil labels:
First-cold pressed or Cold-Pressed Expeller-Pressed
6. The Bottom Line
If optimal health is your goal, then industrial seed oils have no place in your diet. Instead, cook with traditional animal fats, get your omega-6s from whole food sources such as nuts and poultry, and balance things out with omega-3 fatty acids from seafood, shellfish, and fish oil.
Metabolic syndrome can be defined as a cluster of conditions that increase one’s risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The cardinal signs involved include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar levels (insulin resistance), excess belly fat, high triglyceride levels, and low levels of good cholesterol (HDL). If you have at least three of them – you may already have the condition.
If you have any of the listed symptoms you should not panic as this is not a sure sign that you will develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes; however, it means that you should take caution because you are at a higher risk for developing either or both the diseases. Having more risk factors puts you at a greater risk as well.
Approximately 47 million Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome which translates to a staggering one in six people. There is a genetic link to this syndrome which mostly affects African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans. The risks of developing metabolic syndrome increases as you age. Fortunately, aggressive lifestyle changes can delay or even prevent serious health problems for those at risk of developing the disease.
What are the Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that indicate an underlying disease process. Some conditions including elevated triglycerides, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure need to be lab tested which makes it harder to pick up on the symptoms of the syndrome. Generally, a large or increasing waist circumference together with one or two other lab-tested signs may be an indication of the syndrome.
What are the Causes of Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is closely linked to a sedentary lifestyle defined as sitting or lying down for long hours without expending much energy. When this is combined with an unhealthy diet such as eating processed foods packed with empty calories, chances of developing metabolic syndrome are increased.
Metabolic syndrome is also linked to insulin resistance. When a person has insulin resistance their cells don’t respond normally to the hormone insulin which removes sugar from the blood and stores it in cells. This leads to an increase in blood sugar levels.
Abdominal obesity, having extra fat around the waist, is another risk factor for metabolic syndrome. Lastly, hormonal imbalance and conditions including polycystic ovarian syndrome may also contribute to the development of the metabolic syndrome.
Age and ethnicity are other risk factors as risk increases with age and metabolic syndrome is seen more in certain ethnicities such as Hispanics in the US.
What are the Complications of Metabolic Syndrome?
Having metabolic syndrome can predispose you to the risk of developing:
Type 2 diabetes. One of the signs of Metabolic Syndrome is insulin resistance which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Heart Disease. High levels of bad cholesterol and high blood pressure due to metabolic syndrome can lead to atherosclerosis. Many times, this eventually leads to heart disease and increased risk for stroke.
How is Metabolic Syndrome Diagnosed?
There are a few signs that may point towards metabolic syndrome. They include:
Having a large waist circumference measuring at least 89 centimeters for women and 102 centimeters for men.
Having high triglyceride above 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
Low “good” (HDL) cholesterol levels below 40 mg/dL in men or below 50 mg/dL in women.
Having increased blood pressure of 130/85 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher.
Having high blood sugar of 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or higher.
How Can You Prevent Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is largely a diet and lifestyle enhanced condition. Making the following lifestyle changes can prevent conditions that cause it:
Health experts recommend exercising for at least 30 minutes each day. This may include brisk walking, aerobics, or slow jogging. If you are at high risk for heart disease you will need to consult with your physician before you can engage in strenuous physical activity.
If you have extra weight around the mid-section it may be wise to shed it off. You can achieve this through targeted weight lifting and controlling your calorie intake. Losing 7 to 10 percent of your body weight can reduce insulin resistance and blood pressure and also decrease your risk of diabetes. Avoid embarking on weight loss crush programs as you are bound to rebound and gain more weight than you had previously. Instead, work on a program that allows you to lose weight gradually and sustainably.
Adopt a healthy diet plan
A healthy heart diet should be comprised of:
Whole grains rich in fiber
You should avoid or limit your intake of the following:
Trans fats and saturated fats
Reducing or manage stress
Stress is a big contributor to unhealthy lifestyle patterns. If you are at high risk for developing metabolic syndrome regular distressing may be necessary for you. Exercises such as meditation and yoga can be good ways to help you relax. Listening to classical music, taking up a hobby or traveling for leisure can also be of help. Ultimately, you will need to commit to a healthy lifestyle which will not only lower your risk for metabolic syndrome but also reduce your risk for other chronic conditions such as cancer and osteoporosis.
I remember a couple of years back when fast food Sunday treats was the norm for most families. Then slowly, as people became more health-conscious, families began switching to healthier dining options with less processed foods on the menu. So, for those gen Ys who found fast food banned from the family menu, I will give you the 3 reasons why we made the switch. This may also help those who have probably heard that “processed fats are not good for you” without knowing the reasons behind this. Then, next time you want to pick some fried or baked foods from a random store you will take the time to find out whether unhealthy Trans fats are on the ingredient list.
What are Trans Fats?
Trans fats are a form of unsaturated fat that can be found both from natural and artificial sources. Natural trans fats are found in meat from ruminant animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats and are created naturally through digestion in the ruminant’s stomach before being passed into dairy products as well as beef and lamb cuts. For the trans fats that occur naturally, there is not much to worry about. Science has shown that these trans fats have a decent safety profile when consumed in moderate amounts by humans. The most common trans fat that occurs naturally is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is mostly found in dairy. It has been found to have some therapeutic benefits including helping in weight loss and bodybuilding. Consequently, CLA is usually marketed as a dietary supplement.
Artificial trans fats, on the other hand, may cause more harm than good. They are commonly referred to as industrial fats or partially hydrogenated fats. Artificial trans fats are derived from vegetable sources, and they are artificially altered to remain solid at room temperature so that they keep longer. Artificial trans fats can be found in fried foods such as doughnuts, and baked goods such as cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, frozen pizza, and cookies. Science has shown that artificial trans fats have serious health risks that should dissuade you from using them.
1. Trans fats are bad for your heart health
Artificial trans fats may increase your risk of heart disease, as some clinical studies have shown. Examples of highly concentrated artificial trans fats are Vanaspati ghee and margarine. It’s been revealed that people who consume high amounts of artificial trans fats are likely to have increased bad cholesterol amounts without a corresponding increase in good cholesterol. Other fats, on the other hand, increase both bad and good cholesterol amounts. According to CDC reports 2019, high levels of low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) may increase one’s risk for heart disease and stroke, and trans fats have also been shown to damage the inner lining of blood vessels known as the endothelium, which can lead to impairment in blood vessel function. In connection, a number of significant studies have shown that consumption of artificial trans fats are linked with the development of the cardiovascular disease.
2. Trans Fats could Decrease Insulin Sensitivity and Predispose to Type 2 Diabetes
The relationship between Trans fats and insulin sensitivity is currently murky and further clinical research needs to be conducted to give clear direction. One study conducted by the University of Minnesota in 2006 concluded that “high intakes of trans fats may increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, inconsistencies across studies and methodological problems make it premature to draw definitive conclusions at this time. More experimental research in humans is needed to further address this question.”
Another large study showed that those who consumed the most trans fats had a 40% higher risk of diabetes. A number of animal studies have also shown a positive correlation between the consumption of artificial trans fats and insulin resistance which increases the likelihood of type 2 diabetes.
3. Trans Fats Cause Inflammation
Inflammation is a necessary and useful response when injury or infection has occurred; however, chronic inflammation has been linked to the root cause of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and arthritis. A study published in 2002 showed a positive correlation between the consumption of a diet high in hydrogenated fat and the production of inflammatory cytokines that have been associated with atherosclerosis. Other studies have also shown that trans fats increase inflammation especially in overweight or obese people.
In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of trans fats in food preparation. They “determined that PHOs, the major source of artificial trans fat in the food supply, are no longer ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’, or GRAS.” Too many processed foods still contained unhealthy trans fats as the ban has not been implemented to date, and processed foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil are the richest source of trans fats in the modern diet.
How to limit your intake of unhealthy trans fats
Although natural trans fats from animal products are considered safe when taken in moderate amounts, consuming artificial trans fats regularly could jeopardize your health. Industrial seed oil, or the standard vegetable oil in your grocery store, may contain 5% trans fat. I personally avoid all vegetable oils and stick to saturated natural fats whenever possible.
Limit your intake of processed foods made with vegetable oil such as doughnuts, cookies, crackers, muffins, pies, and cakes. When buying food, read labels carefully and check for any partially hydrogenated items on the ingredients list.
High consumption of artificial trans fats have been linked to long-term inflammation, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease. It’s unfortunate that most of Americans are hooked on fast food which is the biggest culprit for unhealthy trans fats.
6. NCBI (2002): Effect of hydrogenated and saturated, relative to polyunsaturated, fat on immune and inflammatory responses of adults with moderate hypercholesterolemia. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11893781
Redness, hotness, swelling, and pain are the key signs of inflammation. Inflammation is not entirely a bad thing as it alerts us to the presence of an injury or infection, but when it is present long term, it becomes harmful. This chronic inflammation may last for weeks, months, or even years. Recent evidence suggests that the underlying cause of many chronic diseases is linked to chronic inflammation, so an approach that focuses on preventing chronic inflammation may be the best remedy for dealing with the associated chronic diseases. This article sheds light on how diet can be used to prevent chronic inflammation.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a defense mechanism that the body employs in order to protect itself from infection, illness, or injury. Acute infection is usually accompanied by pain at the site, redness, hotness, and swelling, but inflammation, especially internal chronic inflammation, may not have these signs. When infection or inflammation occurs, the body increases the production of white blood cells, immune cells, and substances called cytokines that help fight it, and when the inflammation is the long-term internal type, the body may actually be attacking itself in a way. Inflammation may be caused by injury and infection, but chronic inflammation is also linked to an unhealthy diet, high-stress levels, and lifestyle diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Some foods have been linked to inflammation, and when you consume these foods regularly you are likely to develop inflammation-related diseases.
Refined foods are made from carbohydrates that have been processed, and processed foods have been shown to cause inflammation. Some studies have linked refined carbs with inflammation, insulin resistance, and obesity. Processed and packaged foods are also likely to contain trans fats that have been linked to inflammation and destruction of endothelial cells that line the arteries in the heart. Examples of refined foods include white rice (but not brown rice), bread, pasta (but not whole wheat pasta), cakes, and other pastries made from refined flour. Trans fats are partially hydrogenated fats that are used in the preparation of most processed foods such as pizzas, cookies, and cakes. Processed meat such as bacon and sausages also contain unhealthy fats that may trigger chronic inflammation.
Numerous studies have linked chronic inflammation to an unhealthy diet. If you want to reduce inflammation, eat fewer inflammatory foods and more anti-inflammatory foods by adopting a fiber-rich and nutrient-dense diet with minimal amounts of processed foods. Diets that contain antioxidants can minimize your chances of developing chronic inflammation as antioxidants fight off free radicals created as a natural part of your metabolism; these free radicals can lead to inflammation when they’re not held in check.
An ideal anti-inflammatory diet should provide enough protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fat in the required proportions and contain natural foods instead of processed ones. The Mediterranean diet is one kind of diet that has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet originates from the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Its mainstay is healthy fats, and it is centered on locally sourced animal products, seafood, vegetables, nuts, butter and olive oil. Mediterranean diets omit refined and processed foods. When it comes to alcohol, the Mediterranean diet allows the intake of red wine in moderation. A low carbohydrate diet also reduces inflammation particularly for people who are obese or have metabolic syndrome. An often overlooked component of the Mediterranean diet is the lifestyle which involves much higher levels of human connectedness as well as periods of intermittent fasting.
The health risks of inflammatory foods
Most foods that have been linked to type 2 diabetes are also associated with inflammation and are also likely to cause weight gain and obesity. It appears that ingredients in these foods have an independent role to play in the development of inflammation.
On the contrary, foods and beverages that reduce inflammation have been linked to reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Foods such as blueberries, apples, and leafy greens are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols, compounds that have cardioprotective effects as well as anti-cancer effects. Whole nuts have also been linked to reduced markers of inflammation as well as a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
By altering what you eat you could reduce your chances of chronic inflammation. To wrap this up, here are foods to eat and foods to avoid.
Pro-inflammation Foods to Avoid
Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, white pasta
Sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas
Sweetened baked treats such as cakes, cookies
Processed snacks such as chips and pretzels
Excessive alcohol intake
Anti-inflammatory Foods to Eat
Real food, including animal products
Fatty fish that is rich in omega oils such as salmon, herring, and anchovies
1. NCBI (2012): Comparison with ancestral diets suggests dense acellular carbohydrates promote an inflammatory microbiota, and maybe the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22826636
2. NCBI (2014): The effects of the Mediterranean diet on biomarkers of vascular wall inflammation and plaque vulnerability in subjects with high risk for cardiovascular disease. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24925270
When enjoying your tasty donut, the last thing on your mind is your long-term mental health. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that you should be thinking of just that. Most of us know the harm of too much sugar on our physical health in recognizing that it can cause obesity, wide-spread inflammation, and poor dental health and lead to diabetes, but few understand the significant impact of a high sugar diet on our mental health. In this article, we will at how a diet filled with too many sweeteners, such as sugar, honey, maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup and molasses can have a detrimental impact on mental well-being.
Sugar and mental health: A toxic combination?
We all know how diet affects your physical health, but did you know that it can also have lasting effects on your mental health? Regular consumption of meals high in sugar can affect your brain, increasing your risk of developing mental illnesses and mood disorders like depression.
The science of sugar
Sugars are simple, soluble carbohydrates essential for cell and organ functioning. Our bodies have the ability to break complex carbohydrate molecules into simple sugars so it is not necessary to take in sugar in its simple form.
Taking in excess sugar
Neurons are very sensitive cells and are not well prepared for sugar level spikes. A study by researchers from the Department of Neurobiology at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, performed on diabetic rats showed that high blood glucose, a simple sugar, led to inflammation and neuronal damage and death in the brain which suggests that people with diabetes are at risk for neuronal damage.
What is the link between sugar consumption and mental health?
Inflammation is a natural process which helps the body protect itself from damage and also aids in the healing process. Regular consumption of refined carbohydrates and added sugars triggers inflammatory responses that can cause inflammation in the brain and lead to depression.
2. Stress responses
After consumption of a high sugar meal, the hormone insulin is produced to regulate the high blood sugar level and in removing the excess sugar to the cell can actually lower the blood sugar level to below normal. This is called hypoglycemia. A lower than normal blood sugar level will trigger the hunger signal which sets one up for a cycle of sugar addiction. Hypoglycemia may show itself by triggering several stress responses including a feeling of instability (“having the shakes”) confusion, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
High insulin levels can also cause an imbalance of hormone estrogen and progesterone, the balance of which is important in keeping us happy and calm.
3. Obesity and depression
High consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar is associated with excess body weight and obesity. Overweight and obese people are more likely than people with a healthy weight to suffer depression as obesity can cause poor self-image, low self-esteem and social isolation, all known contributors of depression.
4. High release of dopamine
Due to the powerful impact sugar has on mesolimbic dopamine system — the brain’s reward system — sweet foods are highly desirable. Just like drugs, sugar can activate this reward system causing release of dopamine, a chemical that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure center making you crave for more sugar to keep you feeling good. Short term surges in dopamine can be pleasurable, but high concentrations can cause depression and attention deficit disorder.
5. Increased risk of mental illnesses
Brain derived neurotrophic factor is a protein that promotes survival of nerve cells and cognitive function. A diet rich in fats and refined sugar is associated with a low brain derived neurotrophic factor increasing the risk of psychiatric disorders and depression.
6. Starving the Brain
When you consume excessive sugar, a lot of insulin is produced to push this sugar into cells for energy production. The resultant dip in blood sugar can alarm the body and the adrenal glands, making them work over time. These glands are charged with producing cortisol and fight or flight chemicals that can get your heart racing, and rev up anxiety, and cortisol can promote insulin resistance. This will make you consume more sugar, which will inflict more suffering on your brain and potentially even putting you at risk for Alzheimer’s dementia down the line.
7. Disrupting Hormones
When cortisol is in demand for its blood-sugar balancing effects, or because of other psychological or bodily stressors, the body “shunts” the production of progesterone to support further cortisol output. This makes evolutionary sense because if we are under stressful circumstances, preserving progesterone, our “pro-gestational” reproductive hormone, becomes secondary. Insulin can also stimulate production of DHEA and sex hormones including testosterone, which can drive the pathology we see with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Sugars have also been demonstrated to reduce liver production of sex hormone binding globulin, freeing up testosterone and estrogen in ways that may promote symptoms of estrogen dominance including premenstrual moodiness and irritability.
What effect does sugar have on mental conditions?
Depression & Schizophrenia: The rapid fluctuation of blood sugar can worsen mood disorders. Research has shown that high sugar can lead to an increased risk of depression and even worse outcomes in patients with schizophrenia. Interestingly, countries with high sugar intake also have correspondingly high rates of depression.
Anxiety: Although sugar does not increase your risk of anxiety, it can worsen your symptoms and weaken the body’s ability to respond to stress. By minimizing sugar, you can lessen the severity of anxiety symptoms, improve mood and improve the body’s ability to cope with stress.
Addiction: There’s a growing evidence of sugar’s addictive potential. Drugs and sugar both flood the brain with the “feel-good” chemical dopamine. In studies, rats have been shown to prefer sugar-water over cocaine, and they also display classic signs of addiction including tolerance and withdrawal when the sugary products are removed.
Learning & Memory: Sugar can affect how and how much we learn and remember. After six weeks of drinking a fructose solution, much like soda, rats “forgot” how to find their way out of a maze. Insulin resistance from a high sugar diet can damage communications between brain cells involved in learning and memory formation.
How do we avoid the pitfalls of sugar?
How easy is it to avoid sugar? We are bombarded with advertisements for convenience foods and tasty treats. But even seemingly healthful foods can have high levels of hidden sugars. Breakfast cereals, sauces (including ketchup and pasta sauce), flavored milks, whole-meal bread, and many products labeled as low fat, such as fruit yogurts are such culprits.
Smoothies and fruit juices for children were in the spotlight last year in an article published in BMJ Open. It was noted that over 40 percent of products surveyed contained at least 19 grams of sugar – a child’s entire maximum daily amount of free sugars. High sugar levels have also been reported in baby and toddler food products.
Always remember to check the nutritional labels. While the list of ingredients might claim no added sugars, the nutrition facts panel will show the amount of carbohydrates and sugars in the product.
What is the evidence that cutting down on sugars will have health benefits? Studies have shown that individuals who experience depression benefit from eating a healthful diet. The next time a low mood threatens to spoil your day, remember where sugar is hidden in plain sight and look to other tasty treats to lift you out of the doldrums.
Do we need to limit our sugar?
Our bodies and minds were not designed to take in such immense amounts of sugar that has become the norm in American society. Thanks to ongoing research, we are more and more aware of the intricate link between diet and wellness. It has a significant role to play in both physical and mental health. Grappling with mental illness is difficult enough without having additional obstacles in your way. Make sure sugar isn’t making your situation harder than it needs to be.
Additionally, choosing foods that are low in refined ingredients, such as sugar, but high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals can relieve the symptoms of depression. Scientists think that the power of these foods lies in promoting good brain health.
Everhealth (2012): The Impact of Sugar on Mental Health. Retrieved from
The carnivore diet and your pocket: How costly is it?
You’re ready to go on the Carnivore Diet but you think it may be too expensive! Dollar signs flash before your eyes and you almost toss the idea out the window. Is the carnivore diet really that expensive? Is being on a more conventional diet less costly? In this article, we will look at the cost impact of eating all meat….all the time.
What exactly comprises the carnivore diet?
What precisely can you eat on the carnivore diet? The diet stresses the importance of leaning heavily on red meat, particularly on fatty cuts that will help you meet your daily calorie needs. Foods that are on the green list of the carnivore diet include:
Salt and pepper
If your plan is to adhere to the strictest version of the carnivore diet, you’ll eat only what’s on the above list; however, some people choose to be more flexible and may include some foods that come from animals indirectly, like milk, yogurt, and cheese. Others still take coffee and tea.
How much food does one consume under the Carnivore diet?
The perception is that a meat diet is exorbitantly expensive and can put one in the poor house. In reality, when compared to other diets or eating lifestyles, it is surprisingly one of the more affordable options.
Can a Carnivore diet be more affordable that being Vegan or going Keto?
Without a doubt! The generalization aside, look at all the extra ingredients you end up purchasing on the other diets. For example, you are buying expensive avocados, cashew and almond butters, cacao products, oils, teas, herbs, seasonings, kombucha, raw vegetables, occasionally, some very costly supplements.
Supplementation can really add up at the till…consider the vitamins, mushroom teas, elixirs, MCT oils, protein powders, and the rest of the stuff you find in the health food store or supplement aisle. As a carnivore diet generally does not include all these additives, it ends up being quite affordable.
Buy Cheaper Cuts
When you are new to the carnivore diet, you might need to take leaner and choosier cuts as your body is not yet accustomed to this diet and in order for you avoid digestion issues and minimize keto flu symptoms. As your tolerance increases, you can step down to fattier cuts and ground beef and you’ll find that these are much cheaper options.
Another way to approach this is by starting with the different ratios of fat in ground beef. For instance, start off with a 90/10 for a week, then an 85/15, 80/20, and 70/30 for a week each and so on.
Also of note is that fattier cuts make you more satiated and sometimes you just end up eating less meat based on pounds. You will see that you will get full quickly on a 70/30 burger as compared to a 90/10.
Buy what’s on sale
Lots of grocery stores have a weekly ad. Look out for which stores have meat offers. You could find that you save greatly this way.
Buy your meat online
Online meat shopping has major benefits. You have a large variety, you can order the less prominent meat selections like organ meat and liverwurst, and you can double down on coupons or buy in bulk.
Buy the whole animal
The ultimate way to go carnivore and to save money in the long run is to purchase a full cow or pig. The savings are tremendous and if you have a non-defrost freezer, you could potentially have meat for half to a full year, naturally depending on how much you consume.
You could also buy sections of an animal such as ½ or a ¼.
Here is a very general breakdown of a grass fed organic certified ranch costs for a full cow. Average hanging weight of a full cow is 500 pounds. (Hanging weight is basically all the meat minus blood, head, etc.)
A whole cow with butcher fees approximately costs $3200 to $4400. We are looking at total costs of 8.80 per pound on the high end and $6.40 per pound on the low end. (You can get even cheaper if you purchase from an uncertified organic farm or ranch or buy meat not labeled grass-fed.) Non grass-fed beef is fattier but they are usually fed grain and soy which depending on who you talk is controversial from a health and environmental perspective.
When you buy the full cow, you are given the choice of cuts you want and how thick you want your steaks, so there is a certain amount of customization. Depending on your cut selection you end up with around 100 to 150 pounds of ground beef too. This is by far the best deal because you are getting all the cuts like ribeye steaks, filets, flanks, strips and briskets.
How much freezer space do you need?
The general rule of thumb is one cubic foot of space per every 35-40 pounds of packaged meat so a quarter of a cow will fit into a standard freezer chest that has five to seven cubic feet.
Auto Defrost or Not?
Be careful what type of freezer you use to store your packaged meat. There is a huge difference between an auto-defrost freezer, most likely like the one in your kitchen, and a non- defrost freezer. The auto defrost actually has heating coils in its walls which are used to heat up, thaw the ice and then freeze again. This is not ideal because if you have meat next to the walls it’s basically doing the same thing. Your meat is thawing and defrosting over and over again which means it will not last as long and if not eaten within 3 or so months it may spoil.
If you are going big and getting that full cow and expect to keep it frozen through the year, you will need to invest in a non-defrosting chest style freezer which are very affordable. Investing in a non-defrosting freezer will pay for itself over time.
How else can you keep meat longer?
At the point of purchase, the butcher will generally give you the option of standard paper style packaging or vacuum sealed. The vacuum sealed will last longer but there is an increase in price due to material and the time it takes to vacuum seal everything. It will therefore be up to you to decide whether you can afford the extra and have your meat last longer or keep your meat for a shorter period at a cheaper cost.
Another fun way to purchase your meat is by going to a livestock auction. You will get to see the quality of the cow, pig, goat or chickens you are buying and bid up to where you are comfortable. A lot of the auctions help support programs like 4H which in turn help ranchers and their children with education and best practices. Plus it’s a fun and exciting experience.
So, is a carnivore diet affordable?
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to reduce your meat costs, even if it won’t be quite possible to cut it down to the bare minimum. For anyone attempting to lose weight on this diet, it is advisable to stock up on eggs and cheese as they are great fillers to keep you going.
The Carnivore Diet is definitely a lifestyle that is affordable! You will find yourself eating out a lot less and have no need to snack on anything at all. Think about the health care costs associated with poor health. Can you afford not to go carnivore?
The carnivore diet is considered a controversial diet by some, yet its followers expound the immense benefits it brings to their health and wellbeing. What about it makes it work? This article looks at its key components in an attempt to find out why it is effective where some other diets have failed.
What is the Carnivore Diet?
The Carnivore Diet is a restrictive diet that only includes meat, fish, and other animal foods like eggs and certain dairy products. In its strictest forms, it excludes all other foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds.
Its proponents also recommend eliminating or limiting dairy intake to foods that are low in lactose — a sugar found in milk and dairy products — such as butter and hard cheeses.
The Carnivore Diet stems from the belief that human ancestral populations ate mostly meat and fish and that high-carb diets are to blame for today’s high rates of chronic disease. Other popular low-carb diets, like the keto and paleo diets, limit but don’t exclude carb intake, but the Carnivore Diet aims for near zero carbs.
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The Carnivore Diet has been touted to cure the incurable. Health sites like Meatheals.com, World Carnivore Tribe and ZeroCarb are overflowing with tens of thousands of people who have reversed serious health conditions.
It seems almost too good to be true, right? We will delve into the reasons why the carnivore diet works so well.
Why does the carnivore diet work?
1. The Carnivore Diet cuts out all added sugar
Sugar is one of the most controversial topics. To sum it up, sugar is bad for you. Here’s why:
It can stick to cholesterol particles in a process called glycation which can lead to atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes.
It’s highly glycemic. Sugar spikes insulin and can lead to insulin resistance over time.
When metabolized, it produces AGEs which lead to aging, chronic disease and diabetes.
Glucose is oxidatively stressful, causes inflammation, and can produce reactive oxygen species. Oxidative stress plays a role in almost every disease.
In a study conducted, it was found that from consuming just 40 grams of added sugar, people had an increase in inflammation, insulin resistance and weight gain.
Glucose is also speculated to feed tumor growth. The Warburg Effect explains that cancer cells depend on glucose to grow. Very unlike normal cells, cancer cells cannot use Ketones.
While glucose is considered to be bad, fructose is considered to be even worse as it goes directly to the liver where it’s converted to fat. It is twenty times more likely to cause fatty liver than glucose alone.A fatty liver can lead directly to insulin resistance.
2. The Carnivore Diet can cure leaky gut
Leaky gut is a condition when the tight junctions of the small intestine open and allow proteins and toxins into the bloodstream.So far, the carnivore diet has been one of the few clinically shown ways to reverse intestinal permeability and the attendant consequences.
How does the carnivore diet cure leaky gut? Three main ways:
It reduces inflammation, which reverses gut microbiome imbalances
It is the most nutrient rich diet on earth, which heals the gut.
It removes foods that pry the tight junctions in the small intestine open like Lectins and Gluten
3. The Carnivore Diet eliminates refined carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are converted to glucose in your body (sugar). Here are some of the negative effects of consuming refined carbs:
Because all the fiber has been removed, refined carbs are digested very rapidly and cause major blood sugar spikes. This can lead to insulin resistance over time especially when consumed with fat.
Refined carbohydrates also damage the gut. Sugar and carbohydrates are fermented by the gut and colon which can exacerbate GI issues and lead to leaky gut. This is why a well-established treatment for IBS, recommends low carbohydrates to starve your bacteria.
Over time, refined carbohydrate consumption has been linked to inflammation and obesity.
Refined carbohydrates also increase blood triglyceride levels, which is a risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease . Fat hanging out in your bloodstream is a sign that something is seriously off.
Eating refined carbs such as pasta are no different than eating straight sugar. Seven ounces of cooked spaghetti has the same amount of sugar as 4 12 oz cans of Pepsi.
4. The Carnivore Diet cuts out most carbohydrates
Carbohydrates range from simple sugars to complex carbohydrates. But even unrefined carbohydrates can be bad for you. Many forms of starch, for example, raise blood sugar as much as eating glucose.
Below are some reasons why cutting out all carbohydrates may be beneficial (yes, even the “healthy ones”):
High carbohydrate diets can lead to insulin resistance especially if combined with fat
Many whole grains are loaded with anti-nutrients, like lectins
Carbohydrates halt fat burning because of the insulin response; the more carbohydrates you eat the less body fat you burn.
Getting to < 50g a day allows you to burn fat and enter ketosis. Ketosis has a number of health benefits.
All carbohydrates break down into glucose, which can produce some of the negative effects mentioned above: AGEs, glycated LDL particles, insulin resistance, etc.
Carbohydrates and fiber are fermented by the gut, which can exacerbate gut issues like IBS
5. The Carnivore Diet is the very effective in reducing insulin resistance
Insulin resistance is related to almost every chronic disease. Though it might not cause all the conditions, its presence exacerbates them. Some of these conditions are: Heart disease, 62% higher cancer mortality, 160% higher gastrointestinal cancer mortality, prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, aging, inflammation from elevated CRP and IL-6, and acne.
The good news is that you can reverse insulin resistance. The carnivore diet is the most effective way to reverse insulin resistance with these actions:
Cutting out the highly glycemic carbohydrates powers your body off of ketones and increases insulin sensitivity
Cutting out fructose increases insulin sensitivity
Certain plant antinutrients like lectins can bind to insulin receptors and make you more insulin resistant
Vegetable oils cause insulin resistance
Protein is satiating and high protein diets burn body fat, which reduces insulin resistance
People generally intermittent fast on the carnivore diet, which increases insulin sensitivity
If you want to live longer, you need to lower fasting insulin levels.
Despite the prevailing dogma, saturated fats are associated with longevity.
Saturated fats are highly beneficial to health. Your body cannot function without them. Diets high in natural saturated fats are associated with longevity. Hong Kong, for example, consumes more meat per capita than any other nation in the world, but they actually have the world’s longest life expectancy at 84.5 years.
Studies continue to debunk the myth that saturated fat causes heart disease. A review from 2014 looking at 76 studies, found no link at all between saturated fat and heart disease
7. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting isn’t a pivotal part of the carnivore diet. Nor is it prescribed. But people naturally tend to find themselves eating in a shorter window, which brings tremendous health benefits.
Intermittent fasting is restricting your feeding to a window less than or equal to 8 hours. This is a direct contradiction to what many American’s do today.
Fasting is extremely beneficial. It has been shown to:
Increase insulin sensitivity
Promote fat loss
Increase cognition, memory and focus
Increase autophagy, the natural cellular cleansing process
Increase BDNF, which upregulates neuronal creation and maintenance
Improve immune system
Starve bad gut bacteria
Improve autoimmune symptoms like RA and Crohn’s
8. The Carnivore Diet puts you into ketosis
Your body can use two types of fuels: glucose (from carbs) and ketones (from fat).
Everybody on the carnivore diet is in ketosis to some extent. When you stop fueling your brain and body with glucose, fat needs to take its place.
Here are some major benefits of going into ketosis:
Upregulates FOXO genes which regulate oxidative stress and insulin sensitivity and influences longevity.
Ketones improve mood and have antidepressant like effects
BHB reduces oxidative stress in the brain and may be beneficial in preventing neurodegenerative disease
BHB lowers inflammation and blocks NLPR3 inflammasome
Increases endogenous antioxidant production
Ketones improve insulin sensitivity
Increased fat loss while preserving lean muscle mass and performance
Ketones can slow tumor growth by starving them of their preferred fuel, glucose, and lowering IGF-1
9. The Carnivore Diet is Simple
In the complexity of life, food doesn’t need to be complicated. The carnivore diet involves just eating meat, meat, and more meat. This makes it easier to stick to as there are no meal plans and measurements.
The Carnivore diet works…
If you have tried everything to in an attempt to stay in shape and manage any chronic conditions you might have, maybe it’s time you tried the carnivore diet. Its basic mechanisms make sense and are likely to cause some positive effects in your health. If you do have a chronic disease, like diabetes or heart disease, talk to your doctor before trying an extreme diet like this one. Do not follow the carnivore diet if you have any level of kidney disease.
Healthline (2019): All You Need to Know About the Carnivore (All-Meat) Diet. Retrieved from
It’s no secret that sugar is bad for you. It spoils your teeth, packs on pounds around your belly, and provides zero nutrition. Unfortunately, these are the least of sugars crimes. The biggest reason why you should stop eating sugar is that it is one of the most pro-inflammatory foods, and current research suggests that chronic, body-wide inflammation is associated with many modern diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. So what role does a high-sugar diet play in chronic inflammation? In this article, we’ll delve into this and much more.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process.
Acute inflammation develops rapidly in response to an injury or infection. This type of inflammation tends to be good: It’s your body’s way of trying to fight off further damage while jump starting healing. It usually lasts a few days to a few weeks.
Chronic inflammation is long-term inflammation that occurs over months or years, and can increase your risk for serious diseases. It’s usually caused by unhealthy lifestyle factors like diet.
Some foods, like sugar can also cause inflammation in the body, which in small amounts is not too detrimental, but eating too many inflammatory foods or too much of any one such food may cause chronic low-grade inflammation which can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
How does added sugar affect your body?
People who take diets rich in refined sugar may be increasing their risk of chronic inflammation. Research suggests that when people eat and drink less sugar, inflammatory markers in their blood decrease.
A high sugar diet can have harmful effects on health, such as increasing the risk of chronic diseases, weight gain, and tooth decay, and it can also result in chronic inflammation causing the body’s immune system to activate resulting in damage to healthy cells. Inflammation as a result of lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking, and a sedentary existence can contribute to a range of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s.
When you consume excess added sugar and refined carbohydrates there will be a few changes in your body which help explain why a diet high in sugar can lead to chronic, low-grade inflammation.
Excess production of AGEs: Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are harmful compounds that form when protein or fat combine with sugar in the bloodstream. Too many AGEs lead to oxidative stress and inflammation.
Increased gut permeability: Bacteria, toxins, and undigested food particles can more easily move out of the gut and into the bloodstream, potentially leading to inflammation.
Higher “bad” LDL cholesterol: Excess LDL cholesterol has been associated with higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation.
Weight gain: A diet rich in added sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to weight gain. Excess body fat has been linked to inflammation especially when exacerbated by insulin resistance.
It is important to note that inflammation is unlikely to be caused by sugar alone, so other factors like stress, medication, smoking, and excess fat intake need to be monitored or mitigated too.
Is added sugar linked to inflammation?
A lot of research has been carried out to determine how sugar causes inflammation. Diets high in added sugar are thought to signal the production of pro-inflammatory molecules in the body which, over time can create an environment of chronic, low-grade inflammation and lead to trouble in the future. Sugar also stimulates the production of free fatty acids in the liver. When the body digests these free fatty acids, the resulting compounds can trigger inflammatory processes.
Different kinds of sugar may contribute more or less to inflammation. For instance, some research has suggested that fructose may cause more inflammation than glucose. However, a systematic review found no difference in inflammation from fructose and glucose, so more research is needed.
Also, the researchers saw no differences in inflammatory factors between the groups that consumed high fructose corn syrup versus table sugar (sucrose). The sample sizes were small, and the quality of the studies was low, so more research is necessary to confirm these findings too.
People with chronic inflammation may have an increased risk of diabetes, depression, and dementia, and in older adults, chronic inflammation may also be linked to a higher risk of death. Doctors are working on how to reduce chronic inflammation.
Is natural sugar linked to inflammation?
It’s important to note that there is a difference between added sugar and natural sugar. Added sugar is removed from its original source and added to foods and drinks to serve as a sweetener or increase shelf life. Added sugar comes from high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), sucrose or “table sugar”, fructose, glucose and corn sugar and is found mostly in processed foods and drinks.
Among US adults, around 13% of total calories come from added sugar. This is high, considering that government guidelines advise that no more than 5% to 15% of calories should come from both solid fats and added sugar.
Sugar found naturally in food, such as fructose in fruit and lactose in milk and dairy products, has not been linked to inflammation. In fact, foods with natural sugars, such as fruits and vegetables, may be anti-inflammatory, but adding processing to them is the equivalent of drinking sugar sweetened beverages, such as soda. For example, experts caution against processing fruit into juices because it removes the fiber and concentrates the sugar to a higher level per serving.
Does sugar cause inflammation?
Inflammation is a critical component of metabolic syndrome and can lead to diseases like type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, non-alcoholic liver diseases and gout. Research suggests that eating excess sugar can lead to chronic inflammation.
In the United States, the amount of high fructose corn syrup people consume increased from 1978 to 1998 and then stabilized according to the Nationwide Food Consumption Surveys . With greater awareness of the risks of added sugar, sugar intake in the U.S. has been declining; nonetheless, people are still consuming too much sugar.
There are definitely changes you can make to minimize your inflammation risk which would include reducing your sugar intake. Here is our list to guide you to a healthier lifestyle.
Lifestyle Changes Can Reduce Inflammation
Adopt a low glycemic diet: High sugar intake links to chronic inflammation, stroke risk, coronary heart disease risk, and type 2 diabetes risk, and examples of these are soda, refined carbohydrates, and foods containing high fructose corn syrup.
Read food labels: If you are unsure about certain products, get into the habit of reading food labels; look out for ingredients like sucrose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, maltose and dextrose.
Choose whole-grain carbs: These include oats, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa and barley which have a lot of fiber and antioxidants that your body uses to help control blood sugar and protect against inflammation.
Eat more vegetables: Vegetables contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which can protect against and reduce inflammation in the body. (Fruits are not included here because modern fruits contain tremendous amounts of carbohydrates).
Eat lots of antioxidant-rich foods: Fill your plate with foods rich in antioxidants to naturally help counteract inflammation; some examples include nuts, seeds, avocados, oily fish and olive oil.
Keep active: Regular physical activity, including both aerobic and resistance exercise can help protect against weight gain and inflammation.
Manage stress levels: Learning to manage stress levels through relaxation techniques and even exercise can help reduce inflammation.
Add curcumin to food:A component in turmeric called curcumin improves several inflammatory diseases.
Get enough fiber:Researchers have shown an association between high fiber diets and lower inflammatory factors, such as TNF-alpha and interleukin-6.
Drink green and black teas:Scientists have associated compounds found in green and black teas with lower C-reactive protein in the blood.
Eat more nuts: Almonds and other nuts may help to lower the risk of pro-inflammatory states (cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis) and chronic inflammatory diseases (diabetes).
Add fish oil to the diet: Omega-3 fatty acids positively affect lower levels of inflammatory factors in the blood, such as C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and TNF-alpha.
Medical News Today (2017):Everything you need to know about inflammation. Retrieved from