Inflammation can cause a lot of issues in our bodies. However, it’s important to know that not all inflammation in the body is bad. Inflammation is the body’s natural defense to injuries and infections. This is called acute inflammation. It helps to initiate tissue repair, fend off foreign bacteria and is vital in maintaining the well being in a body. When something needs to be healed inflammation comes in to do its job and then leaves when it's done. Without inflammation we would not have the power to heal like we do.
Inflammation becomes a problem when it’s chronic. When inflammation is chronic it’s linked to a number of things like diabetes, heart disease and even depression. It’s biggest link is to arthritis. When inflammation becomes chronic it is there even when you are not sick and don’t need healing, it never goes away. Basically, your body gets mixed signals and attacks against you. When this happens it’s crucial to take action against it. It’s important to see a doctor to find the cause of what’s going on. It’s also important to restore your body back to it’s natural balance. One of the biggest ways you can do this is to take a look at your diet. The food you consume and how you treat your gut can really have an impact on inflammation. Your gut plays a huge role in your immune system and inflammation. Luckily, there are ways to combat inflammation and even ways to help prevent it. The first step is to look at what you’re eating now and learn the foods that cause inflammation.
Foods to Avoid
Refined carbs are digested quickly in our bodies and cause insulin spikes. Insulin spikes result in inflammatory increases.
- Ex: bread, pasta, pastries, cereal. Any processed food that includes added sugar and flour.
Processed meat Most processed meats are high in saturated fats. Dried, smoked and pasteurized meat increase inflammation. Processed meat also tend to have preservatives and artificial flavoring that have negative impacts on our overall health.
- Ex: sausage, bacon, ham, beef jerky.
Trans fats, man-made fats and fats high in omega 6s These are the unhealthiest fats you can consume. They increase inflammation in the body’s fat tissue and increase inflammation, especially with arthritis.
- Ex: fried foods, margarines, canola oil, peanut oil, corn oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, and processed foods that include partially hydrogenated oils.
Sugar and high fructose corn syrup Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup increases inflammation and the risk of a number of other diseases. They have even been linked to reversing the effect of anti-inflammatory foods.
- Ex: soda, candy, highly processed chocolate, dairy products, catsup, other sauces and dressings
- Wheat products convert to sugar very quickly once entering the mouth due to an enzyme called amylase.
Highly Processed food Processed foods tend to have high amounts of saturated fat, added sugar and artificial ingredients. These are all linked to increased inflammation and other health ailments.
- Ex: snack foods, chips, crackers, cookies.
Alcohol High alcohol intake is linked to inflammation and leaky gut. It increases inflammation in the liver.
Recognizing what foods in your diet are causing inflammation can help you in taking the first steps to cutting out those foods. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet doesn’t have to be complicated. It can help you reduce inflammation and make you a healthier person overall. Knowing what foods that actively combat inflammation will put you on the road to recovery.
Foods to Eat
Fruits and veggies Berries contain a high amount of antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory effects. Cruciferous veggies have been known to decrease the risk of heart disease and also have antioxidants.
- Ex: blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, broccoli, cauliflower.
Fish Fatty fish are a great source of protein and full of long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation.
- Ex: salmon, tuna, sardines.
- Ex: black beans, red beans, pinto beans.
- Ex: almonds, walnuts, pecans.
Leafy greens are full of antioxidants and vitamin K which help with inflammation.
- Ex: spinach, kale, collards
Peppers are loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C. Chili peppers also have sinapic and ferulic acid which has been known to reduce inflammation.
- Ex: bell and chili peppers.
You don’t have to give up everything you love! Red wine is full of antioxidants and helps to reduce stress levels.
How to Combat Inflammation
It’s no secret how important sleep is for the body. Not only can inflammation cause sleep problems, sleep problems also can cause inflammation. It’s recommended by doctors that people get no less than 6-7 hours of sleep a night. Lack of sleep increases stress hormones which increases inflammation.
Herbs have a big role in combating inflammation. They add antioxidants to your food. Turmeric, found in curry powder, has a strong substance called curcumin. And garlic curbs the body's ability to make things that boost inflammation. Other herbs that greatly help are green tea and ginger. Herbs can be taken in a capsule, added to smoothies or to season your food.
High stress levels cause a number of issues in the body, including inflammation. We’ve mentioned stress a few times in this article and that’s because it’s such a huge culprit in countless health issues. Reducing stress in your life will benefit you in more ways than one. Reducing stress can be done in a number of ways including exercising, yoga, meditation, sleeping and spending time with friends and family. Reduced stress has been shown to greatly reduce inflammation.
Move Your Body
If you live a mostly sedentary lifestyle it’s crucial to bring some movement to your body. Moving your body promotes healthy blood flow and can increase serotonin in your brain which reduces stress levels. Even more, exercise ignites weight loss which in turn decreases inflammation throughout the body.Weight loss is a big factor in helping to reduce inflammation as well. It’s not always easy to change your lifestyle and stay motivated. That’s why there are companies like Align to help you with weight loss and staying accounted for. Align can help you take back control of your life in more ways than one.