Feeling frustrated that no matter how much you exercise, the weight just doesn’t seem to budge? Or no matter how much effort you put towards your nutrition, that belly just seems to never flatten out? If this sounds familiar then I want to tell you that the good news is it’s not you! And you’re not alone!
You’ve heard the expression that “abs are built in the kitchen” and that “you can’t out-train inflammation.” When it comes to weight loss, energy in doesn’t always equal energy out. Gut health and inflammation play a massive role in the ability for us to digest foods properly, absorb nutrients and to even lose weight. So despite our efforts at the gym and keeping our caloric intake in check, an inflamed gut may be the culprit sabotaging our results.
Causes of Inflammation
Certain medications, such as antibiotics and NSAID’s cause inflammation in the gut. These affect the environment necessary for our microbiome – our “good bacteria” – to thrive. But primarily, certain foods that we eat are the greatest cause of inflammation. It’s a good idea to keep a food journal to determine which foods cause bloating, diarrhea or constipation. I know, we went there, but our bowel activity can give us a lot of information about our gut health.
In the meantime, here’s how you can get started. Below is a list of the 7 most inflammatory foods that may be affecting your gut.
7 Foods to Avoid
- Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Many foods such as condiments, sauces, cookies, crackers, sweets and beverages contain sugar and/or HFCS. Staying on the outskirts of the grocery store while shopping and developing the habit of reading food labels can help us avoid excess sugar in our diet.
- Refined carbohydrates. These include white flour, sugar, and any other grain that has been removed of its fiber. Bread, pasta, pastries, candy, cereals, soft drinks and any processed food containing flour or sugar are refined carbohydrates.
- Processed meats and foods. As a general rule, if it’s “man-made,” do your best to avoid it. Unless it comes from a trusted butcher, sausage, ham, smoked meat, bacon and beef jerky are processed meats that are linked to inflammation and increased risk of metabolic disease.
- Artificial and trans fats. These are found in margarine, microwave popcorn, packaged cakes and cookies, some pastries, and processed foods.
- Vegetable and corn oils. If you’re cooking or frying with vegetable, canola or corn oil, consider switching to avocado oil or olive oil instead. Keep in mind that extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is not advised for cooking and should not be heated. It has a low smoke point which can create harmful substances.
- Alcohol. Alcohol is a sugar and metabolized in the body differently than carbohydrates. Moderation is the key to life, and consumed in excess, alcohol causes inflammation in the gut by affecting the epithelial lining, liver function and optimal environment for gut bacteria.
- Dairy. For the lactose intolerant, dairy creates a lot of discomfort in the gut. Acne, joint pain, diarrhea, and gas are tell tale signs that dairy is causing inflammation in the body.
The Take Away
Awareness is the first step towards change. Knowing that certain foods can cause inflammation in our gut give us a better understanding of our health to minimize the triggers that impede our results.