Today we talk about the foods that cause gut inflammation and how you can reduce the symptoms and heal your gut.
Now, the symptoms of gut inflammation go beyond the bloating, gas, “stuck poop”, digestive discomfort, or irregular bowel movements you may have experienced.
Millions of people suffer from autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.
All of these have a lot to do with gut inflammation.
An autoimmune disease happens when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body.
Did you know, 80% of your immune cells are in your gut?
When we talk about the gut, we’re really focused on the intestines-even though the gastrointestinal tract goes from the mouth all the way down to the rear.
Now, because your gut is closely tied to your digestive, nervous, and immune systems, inflammation that goes on in your gut can affect your entire body, including your immune, brain, mental, and skin health, energy levels, and overall wellness.
So, that’s why it’s important to reduce gut inflammation and keep your gut healthy.
Now, the inflammation we’re talking about is NOT acute inflammation.
Acute inflammation is when your body responds when you are injured, have an allergy, or get sick, and it goes away after you recover.
Like when you fall off your bike and bruise your knee.
Or when you have seasonal allergies and you start sneezing.
The inflammation that concerns us is chronic inflammation, which is when your body experiences triggers all the time and constantly reacts with inflammation.
This chronic inflammation is the root cause of many major chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
So, when we talk about gut inflammation, it means your intestines are inflamed all the time.
So, the next question is, how does gut inflammation come about?
There are two ways that inflammation can happen in the gut.
The first way is when your microbiome gets out of balance.
Now, your microbiome comprises bacteria, viruses, and fungi that inhabit your gut. These microbes are either helpful or harmful.
When there are too few good guys, too many bad guys, or a mixture of both, an imbalance or “dysbiosis” happens.
The disease-causing bad guys are called pathogens and they form colonies called biofilms.
Now, when your body lacks the good guys or probiotics, because of poor food choices, the pathogens overgrow and release inflammation-promoting substances.
These biofilms, also make it hard for your intestines to absorb vitamins and fats that help put out inflammation.
So, the second way that gut inflammation happens is when the epithelium or single layer of cells that make up your intestinal lining becomes permeable or “leaky”.
When this happens, large molecules from the gastrointestinal tract enter your bloodstream.
Now, this is NOT supposed to happen, so your immune system tags these molecules for destruction and sparks a chain reaction of inflammation.
Usually, the permeability of your gut lining is controlled by “tight junctions”.
These are the seals between adjoining cells that prevent “leakage”.
Now, the job of the tight junctions is to allow beneficial nutrients to pass through and keep out larger inflammatory particles like pathogens, toxic chemicals, and undigested food.
But these tight junctions become porous when we do not eat enough foods to repair and strengthen the gut’s protective layer, such as bone broth and vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits and dark leafy greens that help build collagen.
Or when we eat foods we’re sensitive to, and cannot digest well, like gluten.
Also, the pathogens in biofilms cause the tight junctions to loosen up.
Now that you know the two pathways for gut inflammation, let’s look at the symptoms of an inflamed gut.
If you have gut inflammation, your digestive function is weakened, and you will start experiencing both gut and non-gut symptoms.
The symptoms of gut inflammation may include:
Bloating, gas, or excess flatulence.
Acid reflux and heartburn.
Diarrhea or constipation.
Nausea and vomiting.
Abdominal pain or cramping.
Bloody or unusual stools.
Unintentional weight loss.
Sugar cravings and weight gain.
And the non-gut-related symptoms include:
Low energy and fatigue.
Brain fog and mood issues.
Sleep problems and night sweats.
Headaches or migraines.
Skin issues such as dermatitis, psoriasis, or acne.
Hormonal issues such as PCOS.
Joint discomfort and joint issues.
Sniffles and mucus.
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Next, let’s look at the 5 worst food ingredients that cause inflammation in the gut and the rest of the body.
We begin with our Number 5, “Processed Sugar”
Processed sugar refers to refined sugar and carbs, and “added sugar”, like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Added sugar, is sugar that’s been removed from its source, and added to foods and drinks as a sweetener, and to increase shelf life.
Processed sugars and carbs trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines.
When sugary and starchy foods make it to the intestines, they selectively feed the pathogens and starve the beneficial bacteria, which prefer low-sugar plant fibers.
Sugar also damages the protective intestinal barrier, especially when there is a lack of fiber to feed the probiotics.
In one study published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in 2016, researchers followed over 360,000 participants from several European countries who ate a diet high in sugar and soft drinks.
The researchers found that this eating pattern increased the risk of ulcerative colitis.
They also found that eating a lot of vegetables helped reduce the risk of getting ulcerative colitis, even among people who ate a lot of sugar and soft drinks.
As you may already know, soft drinks use HFCS as a sweetener, as do a lot of seemingly “healthy” packaged foods like salad dressings, sweetened yogurt, and granola bars.
HFCS is inflammatory, and over the last few decades, the overconsumption of HFCS has been linked to dramatic increases in inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, fatty liver, and type 2 diabetes.
While processed sugars cause a cytokine storm, natural sugars in whole foods have NOT been linked to inflammation.
So, to keep gut inflammation in check, we must avoid or reduce processed sugar. This includes:
Refined sugar like white table sugar, cane sugar, and brown sugar.
Foods with added sugars or fructose, including ice cream, chocolate bars, and sugar-sweetened drinks such as soda, fruit juice, and energy drinks.
Artificial sweeteners with names like aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and agave syrup.
Instead, to sweeten your food and drinks, use natural sugars from whole foods like:
Yacon syrup, raw honey, raw dates, coconut crystals, and pure whole-leaf stevia (NOT processed stevia extract).
Now, let’s talk about the other type of sugar we need to cut back on: refined carbs.
These are refined grains that have been processed to the point that almost all the bran, fiber, and nutrients have been removed.
They break down easily into simple sugars and cause rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin, which lead to weight gain, insulin resistance, and diabetes.
These inflammatory “empty carbs” are the comfort foods many of us crave, such as white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, sweet desserts, and breakfast cereals.
So instead of refined carbs, eat the following types of carbs to soothe inflammation in the gut.
Prebiotics, or natural fibers that feed the good bacteria like dandelion greens, garlic, onions, chicory root, artichokes, bananas, whole oats, and apples.
Probiotic fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and unsweetened yogurt.
Gluten-free whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and wild and brown rice. These complex carbs help your blood sugar rise more slowly.
Nutrient-dense, complex carbs like fruits and starchy vegetables like potatoes and legumes with lots of fiber.
Next up, our Number 4 is “Gluten”.
You may want to consider eating less wheat, even if you do not carry the gene for celiac disease, are not gluten-sensitive, and do not have Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
This is because one fragment of gluten found in wheat, called gliadin, stimulates the release of the protein zonulin in the gut barrier.
Zonulin expands the tight junctions and increases the “leakage” of harmful compounds into the bloodstream.
So eating gluten can contribute to a continuous state of low-grade inflammation.
A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology in 2006 found that gluten increases intestinal permeability for everyone, but especially for celiac patients.
Common grains that contain gluten include wheat, rye, and barley.
Next, we have Number 3, “Ultra Processed Foods”.
Ultra-processed foods (UPF) are laden with more than just added salt and sugar.
They include artificial colors, hydrogenated fats, preservatives, and additives to increase shelf-life, stability, and taste.
The Brazilian researchers who came up with this term defined UPF as “industrial formulations with five or more ingredients.”
Examples of UPF include flavored potato chips, hot dogs, salami, frozen pizzas, white bread, chicken nuggets, fried chicken, French fries, soft drinks, chocolate, candy, ice cream, whipped toppings, salty snacks, baked goods, and sweetened breakfast cereals.
These highly-modified foods disrupt the gut microbiome and weaken the gut barrier.
According to a study published in The BMJ, UPF makes up 58% of the calories eaten in the U.S. and contributes almost 90% of the energy from added sugars.
Studies show that eating larger amounts of UPF significantly increases the risks of inflammatory bowel disease.
Also, processed meats have been associated with a higher risk of colon cancer because they fuel gut inflammation.
Avoid UPF and eat anti-inflammatory whole foods, including anti-bacterial foods like garlic and ginger, to promote good gut bacteria.
Click the link below to get your free anti-inflammatory diet plan.
The next two ingredients are commonly found in UPF.
At Number 2, we have “Vegetable Oils”.
Vegetable oils are also known as refined seed oils, which is a more accurate name for these industrial oils.
They are widely used for cooking in restaurants and for extending the shelf life of packaged foods.
So these processed oils include canola, corn, cottonseed, soybean, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, and rice bran.
Now, they’re really bad for your gut and clog up your arteries.
This is because they contain high levels of polyunsaturated Omega-6 fatty acids which are easily oxidized by heat and light, and form unnatural molecules.
These molecules irritate your gut lining and cause inflammation that leads to a leaky gut.
The problem is most people ingest far more Omega-6 than anti-inflammatory Omega-3.
To lower gut inflammation, replace vegetable oils with healthy fats like avocado oil, macadamia oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and extra virgin olive oil.
And at Number 1, we have “Trans fats”
Artificial trans fats are another type of vegetable oil.
They are often listed as partially hydrogenated oils on food labels.
These are formed by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, so the oil becomes solid at room temperature.
Even though the FDA banned artificial trans fats in the U.S. in 2018, they can still be found in some foods.
These are vegetable shortening which is used for making soft and flaky cakes and pastries, microwave popcorn, margarine, fried fast foods, and nondairy coffee creamers.
You’ll want to stay far away from these heart-disease-causing vegetable oils.
So, these are the top 5 worst foods that cause gut inflammation you’ll want to avoid.
Other factors that increase harmful gut bacteria and inflammation include:
Food sensitivities like dairy, corn, soy, and nightshades.
Chronic stress and poor sleep.
Problems with bile flow.
Low stomach acid levels.
Gut infection and Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Medications like NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
Drinking too much alcohol.
Finally, if you’re looking for vitamins to heal a leaky gut, the best ones are zinc carnosine, L-glutamine, ginger, and aloe vera.
As always, this video is educational and does not constitute medical advice; we are not doctors.
I hope you enjoyed this video.
See our previous video on how to stop acid reflux if you missed it.
And click on the link below to get your free anti-inflammatory diet plan.