Recent headlines prove that awareness is growing about the connection between chronic inflammation and feeling well. Medical experts now believe that your diet and other lifestyle strategies can play a major role in prevention. Here’s what you need to know about chronic inflammation and how to fight it.
The Facts About Inflammation
1. Acute inflammation.
Acute inflammation is good for you. In fact, it’s necessary for the healing process. When you get an injury or infection, blood flow increases to the damaged area. Special cells start removing irritants and damaged cells. Your body comes to help fight the attack – whatever that might be!
2. Chronic inflammation.
On the other hand, inflammation can undermine your health when it fails to shut off. Even though the symptoms may be invisible, chronic inflammation appears to play a role in heart disease, cancer, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease and depression. It also plays a role in feeling badly – you will have symptoms on a constant basis when you have chronic inflammation.
3. Benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Eating natural, unprocessed foods instead of sugar and processed foods can alleviate the inflammation and greatly strengthen your health. Some foods that are inflammatory to one person, may not be inflammatory to you. According to JJ Virgin in her best-selling books The Virgin Diet, the most common inflammatory foods are: dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, corn, peanuts and sugar/artificial sweeteners.
Food Choices That Fight Chronic Inflammation
1. Cut down on processed foods.
Steering clear of processed foods is a quick way to avoid many inflammatory agents. These include omega-6 fatty acids, trans fats and refined carbohydrates.
2. Eliminate foods you are intolerant to.
According to JJ Virgin in her best-selling books The Virgin Diet, the most common inflammatory foods are: dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, corn, peanuts and sugar/artificial sweeteners. Try eliminating these foods for a period of time to see if your symptoms dissipate. Follow the guidelines of her book for evaluating whether these foods are inflammatory to you.
3. Eat more fish.
Omega-3 fatty acids are especially effective at reducing swelling. Eat fish at least twice a week. Pick the healthy-fat varieties including wild salmon.
4. Eliminate grains, even whole grains.
Grains tend to have an inflammatory effect on the body. Try eliminating all grains and see how you do. Grains contain minimal nutrition which is not easily absorbed by your body, so by eliminating grains, you need not worry that you are eliminating nutrition from your diet.
5. Indulge in olive oil.
The ingredient oleocanthal in olive oil is another inflammation buster. It’s what gives extra-virgin olive oil its peppery taste.
6. Eliminate nightshades.
For some people, foods in the nightshade family cause inflammation. These foods include tomatoes, bell peppers, spicy peppers and eggplant. Many people with arthritis will find their pain is significantly reduced by eliminating nightshades.
7. Spice it up.
Certain spices prevent inflammation while making your food taste better. Be generous with the ginger, curry, clove, black cumin and cinnamon.
Additional Strategies That Fight Chronic Inflammation
1. Lose weight.
Extra pounds put an extra burden on your joints and vital organs. Trim down safely with a balanced diet and regular exercise.
2. Manage stress.
Elevated stress hormones contribute to inflammation. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or take long baths.
3. Quit smoking.
Smoking is another irritant. Even if you’ve tried to give up tobacco in the past, consider taking another run at it. New methods are being introduced all the time to make it easier.
4. Consult your doctor.
Many new discoveries about chronic inflammation have emerged in the past year. Your doctor can help explain the findings and what they mean for you. A healthy diet can help reduce your risk of chronic inflammation, enabling you to live a longer and more active life. Eat a variety of whole foods including plenty of fruits and vegetables and talk with your doctor about your individual health concerns.