Reducing Inflammation with Diet
Inflammation is a natural healing process within your body. It is supposed to be a short-term response to an injury or illness. The inflammation helps defend your body until it has a chance to undergo further healing. Your body can run into problems when there are small continuous insults that build up into a chronic inflammation situation. Things that will lead to a chronic inflammatory state are poor diet, lack of physical activity, stress, and environmental toxins. Researchers think that chronic inflammation may be the root of many other diseases including type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
A person’s lifestyle can ultimately create a pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory environment within their body.
7 Diet tips to promote an anti-inflammatory environment:
- Fruits and veggies: Fruits and veggies are naturally high in antioxidants and nutrients. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, etc.) are particularly high in inflammation-fighting nutrients. Vegetables that are dark in color tend to have a lot of health promoting phytochemicals. Be sure to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables that are in season and choose organic when possible. Don’t forget that garlic, onions, and mushrooms are also great sources of phytochemicals, even though they may not be brightly pigmented.
- Healthy Fats: Choose healthy omega-3 fats. Fats often get a bad rap but choosing healthy omega-3 fats is what you should be doing instead of avoiding fats altogether. Choose extra-virgin olive oil when cooking or making dressings, add nuts, seeds, avocados to your meals and snacks, and avoid highly processed foods that may have been made with fats that promote inflammation.
- Fiber: Vegetables should be the basis of your meals and you should surround this base with other healthy protein, carbs, and fats. Try to eat whole wheat, beans, and lentils when adding carbohydrates to your meals. Avoid foods made with flour, sugar, and excess salt. Try to avoid packaged carbs, as they are inflammation promoters.
- Spices: Use spices when cooking. Make it fun and delicious! These herbs and spices are also often filled with phytochemicals that are health promoting. Ginger and turmeric are very powerful anti-inflammatory herbs.
- Meat: Red meat, dairy, milk, and to a lesser extent poultry, are seen as pro-inflammatory. When thinking about proteins look to fish, plant based proteins (legumes), and less processed forms of soy (tofu, edamame) because they can help reduce inflammation.
- Tea or coffee: All types of teas contain inflammation-fighting phytochemicals (esp. green tea). Coffee also has phytochemicals but if consumed in excess coffee can actually cause inflammation.
- Moderation: If you are eating more than your body needs it can cause inflammation. Try to maintain a balanced, healthy weight. Alcohol is an inflammatory so try to avoid it. Drinking red wine in moderation is the healthiest option. If you have sweet cravings try fresh fruit or dark chocolate in moderation.
More tips on promoting an anti-inflammatory environment:
Remember that this information is for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of a health specialist before making any changes to your healthcare.