Eat to Beat Inflammation

August 4, 2020

First off let’s talk about inflammation. Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing, in fact, it is the body’s normal and protective response to infection or injury. Think about when you twist your ankle while you’re out running and it swells and becomes inflamed – this is the body responding appropriately and attempting to heal itself. The problem with inflammation comes when it becomes chronic. The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks chronic diseases as the greatest threat to human health. According to recent studies, the prevalence of diseases associated with chronic inflammation is anticipated to increase persistently for the next 30 years in the United States.

What, exactly, is chronic inflammation? It is slow, long-term inflammation lasting for prolonged periods of several months to years. This low-grade, ongoing pain can permeate the body, causing swelling, heat, and redness of an affected organ or tissue due to the immune system attacking healthy cells. Such chronic inflammation can lead to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease, while also leading to a buildup of plaque in the arteries that increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, and a host of other ailments.

What, then, can we do to stave off inflammation? Eating a healthy, balanced diet is key. Certain foods work to suppress inflammation, so incorporating them into your daily diet will help to reduce your risk of chronic pain.

  • Omega-3s and -6s: Help to regulate the inflammatory process and pain related to inflammation.
    • Good sources: salmon, mackerel, tuna, walnuts, almonds, ground flaxseed, pecans, soy
  • Antioxidants: Prevent, delay, or repair cell and tissue damage.
    • Good sources: berries, tart cherry juice, leafy greens, beets, avocados, beans, lentils, whole grains, cloves, ginger, turmeric/curcumin, and black and green teas.
  • Fiber: Both soluble and insoluble fiber intake help to lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines
    • Good sources: whole grains, fruits, veggies, legumes
  • Magnesium: One of the most anti-inflammatory dietary factors, as it works to lower the activity of pro-inflammatory responses.   
    • Good sources: Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains
  • Vitamin D: Suppresses inflammatory mediators.
    • Good sources: Fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks, fortified milk, juice, and cereals

While adding certain foods can certainly help quell inflammation, limiting other foods is also an important step.

  • Less Red Meat: Red meat can be pro-inflammatory and thus, should be limited. That doesn’t mean cutting out all red meat, as it is certainly a good source of heme iron. Instead, simply aim to cut back. If you are typically a big red meat eater simply replace a few hamburgers with veggie or salmon burgers.
  • Less Processed Food: Foods high in trans and saturated fat may activate the inflammatory process. Avoid packaged foods and snacks, deep fried foods, sugary cereals and drinks, and pastries as much as possible.

Dietary and lifestyle changes may truly be helpful in removing inflammation triggers and reducing chronic inflammation. Incorporating healthy, natural food like fresh fruits and veggies is imperative. Reducing stress, getting quality sleep, and maintaining a healthy weight are all parts of the equation as well. 

If you’re dealing with chronic inflammation and need assistance, please contact me to set up and appointment. Let’s get you on your way to a healthier, happier you!

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