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By, Carolyn Fetters 
Fitness & Nutrition Expert
Founder of Balanced Habits™ Nutrition

Gut Inflammation is often confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and although there is a correlation, the two are not the same thing. Inflammation of the gut may be related to genetics, or environment, or a combination of the two. When inflammation occurs, it’s due to the immune system responding incorrectly to environmental triggers, such as a virus or even bacteria, resulting in inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. This can vary from uncomfortable to extremely painful, depending on the severity of the inflammation or how long the inflammation has been occurring throughout the unlucky recipient’s lifetime.

Another type of inflammation, but more closely related condition to gut inflammation is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). This condition occurs when part of your digestive system is inflamed. With IBD, over time, the inflammation can cause severe pain, diarrhea, for some people constipation, or periodically a bloody stool. IBD symptoms come and go in episodes or flares. Because of the inflammation in your digestive system from IBD, your body cannot absorb all of the nutrients it needs; which leads to other health issues from malabsorption of nutrients.

Many people suffering from gut inflammation/IBD believe their symptoms are induced or exacerbated by specific foods. Commonly identified foods include citrus fruit and night shade vegetables, whole milk dairy products, spicy foods, processed foods, nuts and seeds, alcohol, and foods high in fat. See this helpful guide of Foods to Avoid / Foods to Include if you are suffering from gut inflammation/IBD.

How do you know if food is causing inflammation?

A quick way to recognize ultra-processed foods is to read the list of ingredients. If there are ingredient names you struggle to pronounce, there is a good chance it doesn’t belong in your body.  The ingredients you can’t pronounce are what likely promotes inflammation. Remember that ingredients are listed in order of addition, so the higher the ingredient on the list, the more abundant the addition.

What is the worst inflammatory food for your body?

It may be hard to resist candy, cookies, pastries, chocolate, sodas, even fruit juices. However, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition warns that processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines (small proteins crucial in controlling the growth and activity of other immune system cells and blood cells).

So how do you treat chronic gut inflammation?

By eating a healthy diet, avoiding sugar, avoiding processed foods (which contain additives, some of which may be associated with IBD flares), exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and getting enough sleep are all keys to staying healthy with gut inflammation/IBD.

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