Fight Chronic Inflammation by Making Simple Changes in the Way You Eat
Recent headlines show that awareness is growing about the connection between chronic inflammation and many serious health conditions. In fact, it appears that chronic inflammation may be the cause – rather than a symptom – of these conditions.
Personally, I have found it easier to control my weight and minimize fatigue and physical pains when I focus on eating anti-inflammatory foods. My husband has a blood disorder and he’s managed to keep it under control and the meds to a minimum with an anti-inflammatory diet.
Medical experts now believe that your diet and other lifestyle strategies can play a major role in prevention of this dangerous inflammation. Surprisingly, it’s one of the easiest diet changes to make! As I happily discovered from reading several books on the subject, there is quite a large verity of anti-inflammatory foods to choose from.
Here’s are the basics you need to know about chronic inflammation and how to fight it.
The Facts about Inflammation
- 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.
- 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 maybe even Alzheimer’s disease and depression.
- 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.
Food Choices That Fight Chronic Inflammation
- Emphasize plant-based foods. Goes without saying, making plant-based foods the mainstay of your diet will automatically increase your supply of antioxidants and important phytochemicals that act as anti-inflammatory agents. Aim for at least 5 servings a day of vegetables and fruits.
- 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.
- Get more Omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially effective at reducing swelling. Some people recommend eating fish to get more of this healthy fat, but there are plenty of vegetarian sources. If you eat fish you’re also ingesting mercury and other dangerous chemicals. Vegetarian sources of Omega-3 include cauliflower, flaxseed, humus, chia seeds, hemp, and purslane to name a few. Make a humus dipping platter with cauliflower and hemp and flax crackers for the ultimate Omega-3 snack stack!
- Switch to whole grains. Opt for whole grains whenever possible. Many restaurants are now offering a choice, so order brown rice instead of white. I like the nutty taste and chewy texture of different varieties of brown rice. Dark wholegrain breads add a whole new dimension to sandwiches.
- Indulge in EVO. The ingredient oleocanthal in olive oil is another inflammation buster. It’s what gives extra-virgin olive oil its peppery taste. We use it all the time in cooking and in salad dressing.
- Spice it up. Certain spices prevent inflammation while making your food taste better. Be generous with the ginger, curry, clove, black cumin and cinnamon. Soon you’ll be putting together easy to make power-packed meals stacked with anti-inflammatory ingredients. For example, for breakfast I make oatmeal with a little cinnamon and topped with almonds, cherries and blueberries – all anti-inflammatory and all delicious. What a great start to the day!
- Educate yourself. It seems like there’s a new diet book published every week promising anti-inflammatory effects. Find what works for you. One safe strategy is to stick with Mediterranean style diets that get high ratings across the board.
- Cut out the meat. We already suggested going plant-based, you may as well go all the way and become vegetarian or vegan. Research findings suggest a diet high in meat has been found to make inflammation problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, worse. Going vegetarian will improve your overall health, is certainly good for your heart and provide the peace of mind that the life of animals is more important than taste.
Additional Strategies That Fight Chronic Inflammation
- Lose weight. Extra pounds put an extra burden on your joints and vital organs. Trim down safely with a balanced diet and regular exercise.
- Manage stress. Elevated stress hormones contribute to inflammation. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or take long baths.
- 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.
- 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. It has certainly paid off in our health. Eat a variety of whole foods including plenty of fruits and vegetables and talk with your doctor about your individual health concerns.