Alasdair Adam - June 2021
Inflammation and Mental Health – foods to avoid
How does inflammation affect mental health?
(Disclaimer first, we are not doctors, this is not medical advice this is a blog based on
scientific research papers as linked below.)
Britain is going through a silent epidemic. Mental health affects most of us at some point
or another whether depression, anxiety or just overwhelming feelings of apathy.
There are 2 types of inflammation
There is acute inflammation brought on by illness, injury and other types of misfortunes. We are addressing chronic inflammation which has an onset of years and creeps up over unnoticed over time and is linked to lifestyle choices.
What is inflammation? Where is it ?
Chronic inflammation happens over time. It's a gradual process that includes toxic build up in body tissue, joints and organs. It causes internal swelling that can’t be seen. Just think when you have an inflamed spot or sore, it’s generally red, sensitive and slightly delicate. This is the same as what's happening inside us when inflammation strikes. The most obvious symptom is acid indigenisation or reflux, other symptoms are foggy brain, memory problems and lethargy.
Inflammation and depression / mental health
When we refer to mental health we are referring to times when there is no obvious outside force, such as divorce, death or loss or other such factors which trigger these understandable emotions. So it’s important to distinguish the difference. Nor are we referring to chemical imbalances in the brain when professional medical intervention is recommended.
Don’t underestimate the impact of inflammation
We all have a way of coping no matter what befalls us. Mental health is often something that creeps up on us, we suddenly realise we aren't as happy as we were a few months ago – we feel apathetic, maybe we feel more anxious for no apparent reason. Here’s where the problem lies: all too often we look for outside forces to explain why we aren't feeling so good, after all that would make sense wouldn’t it?
Sugar is present in so many things its hard to avoid, natural sugar is unavoidable, but added sugar is preventable, and there are many other benefits to avoiding added sugar.
Sugar is the worst thing you can take for inflammation
Inflammation can make you feel lethargic
The problem may well be inflammation.
You are what you eat so they say. Well not quite but certainly what you eat affects you, and it’s not as straightforward as just leaving the cream buns alone. Each of us is different, but the biggest culprit for most however is bread. Many of us get acid indigestion and feel bloated and sluggish. This is because it causes inflammation. In turn inflammation makes us feel a bit rubbish. But there can be other culprits: porridge oats, bananas, milk, this list goes on.
Brain fog and inflammation
Sure we can have a meal, feel a bit lethargic and then get on with our day. But over time if we don't correct it, it gradually chips away at us. We feel less inclined to want to go out, our sex drive and self-esteem suffer, and relationships can can break down.
Inflammation and links to mental health
How many of us are likely to suffer from mental health related inflammation? 12 million people in the UK. That's an astounding number. Often to counteract this feeling of sluggishness or brain fog people turn to drink or drugs for momentary relief, and who can deny the UK has a rather unhealthy relationship with both?
The foods that cause inflammation
Sugar is the biggest offender. Sugar in processed form is terrible, it causes all sorts of issues such as premature ageing, obesity, brain fog, addiction and other nasties. No home should have a bag of processed sugar for any reason, it’s nasty stuff. We understand it’s cheaper than some alternatives, but are you really going to put your mental health before a few pounds? Wheat in processed form is another one to avoid. That's the bread you buy – even granary bread from farm shops can cause inflammation in many people. And then there's pasta.
Can I reverse the inflammation process?
Yes you can, and whilst it’s relatively straight forward it’s not initially an easy ride, because as strange as nature is, we often get addicted to the things that cause us problems. Basically you need to go on a lower carb diet, or at least avoid processed foods such as sugar, bread, pasta and ideally rice (some of you would be advised to give potatoes a miss).
Reversing the inflammation process doesn’t take long
Here’s the good news – if you can avoid the things that cause you inflammation for a few weeks often the fog will start to lift: you will feel lighter in your body and mind, find yourself drinking less and generally feeling better over all.
Inflammation isn’t always obvious
Here’s the good news – if you can avoid the things that cause you inflammation for a few weeks often the fog will start to lift, you will feel lighter in your body and mind, and even find yourself drinking less, and generally feeling better over all.
Foods that reduce inflammation
Ketonika products are excellent anti-inflammatory food and drink. Collagen, MCT, fruits in moderation, coffee, good fats, leafy greens and BCAAs are all excellent anti-inflammatory ingredients (in moderation of course), and our healthy toppings are purely natural: seeds, cacao, nuts and pollen – again all excellent anti-inflammatory foods.
Dealing with inflammation should be your primary goal not weight loss
If you start dealing with the issues of inflammation everything else starts to follow: weight loss, cognitive function, and generally feeling better about everything. It’s no surprise that an anti-inflammatory diet is very close to a Keto diet.
The best anti-inflammatory foods (in no particular order)
1. Berries (acai, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)
2. Nuts Fatty fish
3. Leafy Greens
4. Good oils such as extra Virgin olive oil, coconut oil (not heated)
5. Some cheeses (in moderation)
8. Dry beans
9. Fruits (though for some citric acid can cause inflammation)
10. Sweet potatoes Grass fed 11. Butter (in moderation)
13. Green Tea
14. Dark chocolate
15. Raw oats (for some people)
16. Spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, garlic
18. Oysters mushrooms
Yogurt (probiotic and plant based)
19. Hydrolysed collagen
20. Bee Pollen
21. Whey powder (we avoid it though)
22. Dried fruits, note: some of these foods should be taken in small doses, such as cheese and butter. (For some people oats and cheese may not be effective, try with small amounts of each to see how things affect you (this is not a green light to eat a wheel of Brie.)
Inflammatory foods to avoid
As in never eat, nada, nothing, not even small amounts, no nibbles, no cheats, never eat these things.
(Please note: this is advice for those that suffer from inflammation. There are a lucky few who seem to get away with eating all sorts.)
1. Refined sugar and everything that refined sugar comes in
2. Processed meats (note at the bottom for those on low carb)
3. Refined flour (and everything made of it such as bread, burger buns etc)
4. Vegetable oil (anything called vegetable oil, seed oil etc)
5. Artificial sweeteners (stevia and erythritol are OK)
6. Margarine (how we fell for that in the 80s we don’t know)
7. Fruit juice
8. Store bought smoothies (just look at the labels)
9. Processed cheese (plastic type cheese you get in burgers) 10. Crisps
11. Too much alcohol
12. Gluten (for some people best avoided)
13. Lactose (avoid those skinny lattes)
14. MSG Takeaways (sorry we know they are convenient but avoid)
15. Fried foods
Foods that may be beneficial for some and not for others
4. Small amounts of alcohol
5. Red meat
The absolute worst possible foods you can eat for inflammation
Get rid of inflammation and feel great