Is Rye An Inflammatory? The Answer Is Yes

By: Jackie Martin    Last Updated: January 23, 2023       

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Is Rye An Inflammatory? The Answer Is Yes

Rye bread has become a staple food item in our daily lives, and rye flour is often used to make bread, pasta, crackers, and other baked goods.

Despite the prevalence of this ingredient, there have been concerns over the suitability of this substance for all individuals – particularly concerning inflammation.

Is rye bread considered to be an inflammatory food? We took a closer look at all you need to know.

What Is An Inflammatory?

The term ‘inflammatory’ refers to foods that cause inflammation or irritation in the body.

Inflammation is caused by substances called pro-inflammatory cytokines (PICs) – these are proteins produced by immune cells that trigger the release of chemicals such as histamines, prostaglandins, and leukotrienes, that are designed to promote healing, as well as stimulate blood vessel growth and increase blood flow.

Inflammation occurs when the body’s natural defenses are activated against foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, toxins, allergens, or irritants.

This process can lead to swelling, redness, heat, pain, and loss of function. It also involves the production of chemical messengers known as mediators, which are released from immune cells and act on nearby tissues to help fight infection and repair damaged tissue.

When PICs are not properly regulated, they can cause damage to healthy tissue and contribute to chronic disease.

Inflammatory foods can cause inflammation in the gut lining, leading to digestive problems such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, indigestion, and ulcers.

Some studies suggest that consuming certain types of grains, especially gluten-containing grains, can contribute to inflammation in the body.

This means that some people who suffer from autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and psoriasis may experience relief after eliminating these foods

Inflammatory Foods: What Are They?

There are many different types of inflammatory foods, but two of the most common include:

Gluten-Free Grains

Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye. It’s a protein that gives dough its elasticity and helps it rise. In recent years, research has shown that gluten may play a role in causing inflammation in the body.

Many people with inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and dermatitis herpetiformis avoid gluten because it seems to worsen their symptoms.

However, it’s important to note that not everyone reacts the same way to gluten. 

Some people don’t react at all, while others develop a rash or feel bloated. For those who do react, gluten sensitivity varies widely between individuals.

Some researchers believe that the reason why gluten causes inflammation is that it stimulates the immune system to produce more antibodies.

These antibodies then attack the intestinal wall, damaging the mucosa and allowing harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream. 

Other experts think that gluten triggers an abnormal immune response in genetically predisposed individuals.

If you’re looking to cut back on your intake of gluten, try replacing bread products with other grain products such as rice, quinoa, oats, corn, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, sorghum, spelt, kamut, and wild rice, and see whether this alleviates your symptoms.

Soy Products

Soy Products

Soybeans contain high levels of phytic acid, a compound that binds minerals in the soil and prevents them from being absorbed by plants.

Phytic acid also inhibits the absorption of iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese, and iodine. Because soy contains so much phytic acid, it’s often used as a food preservative.

However, there is evidence that suggests that eating too much soy can be problematic for some people.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that women who consumed large amounts of soy had higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation which is produced by the liver and increases during times of stress. 

Other studies have linked soy consumption to an increased risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

If you want to limit your soy intake, look for non-GMO varieties and choose organic if possible. You can also opt for fermented soy products like tempeh, miso, natto, and tamari instead of regular soy sauce.

Is Rye An Inflammatory?

So, is rye considered to be an inflammatory? The answer to this is unfortunately yes, and this occurs as a result of the presence of gliadin, which is a storage protein present in grains like wheat, barley, and oats.

Gliadin is responsible for triggering the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins that help cells communicate with each other.

This communication is necessary for the body to heal itself after injury. When these cytokines are released into the bloodstream, they cause damage to the intestinal lining, leading to leaky gut syndrome.

Leaky gut syndrome is associated with many autoimmune diseases including celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

In addition to gliadin, rye contains another protein called secalin, which is similar to gliadin but does not trigger the production of proinflammatory cytokines.

Secalin is thought to be less likely to cause leaky gut than gliadin. However, it still poses a threat to the intestines because it can bind to the villous surface of the small intestine, causing damage to the intestinal epithelium.

The good news is that you can reduce the amount of gliadin and secalin in your diet by choosing whole-grain rye over refined flour versions.

Whole-grain rye has been shown to lower CRP levels in patients with elevated levels of CRP. In fact, one study found that consuming whole-grain rye was just as effective at lowering CRP levels as taking a statin drug!

How To Reduce Inflammation

If you’re looking for ways to reduce inflammation, here are three simple steps you can take:

  • Choose whole-grain bread, cereals, pasta, and crackers over refined versions.
  • Opt for brown rice over white rice – this is more nutritious than white rice because it contains fiber and antioxidants.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. These foods contain phytonutrients that fight inflammation.

Final Thoughts

Rye is a healthy food that can be part of a healthy diet, but it has been proven to cause inflammation and discomfort in some individuals.

This doesn’t mean, however, that everyone has the same reaction; talk to a medical professional or nutritionist to explore the best way to manage your sensitivity, and find out what works for you.

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