Chronic Inflammation: Its Dangers and How to Conquer It.
Chronic inflammation and ways to counteract its negative effects have been in the news a lot recently. And for good reason. Chronic inflammation has been found to cause many auto-immune and other diseases, including cancer. So it’s important that we take a closer look at what causes chronic inflammation and identify what we can do to “cool things off,” so to speak, in our bodies.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural process that helps your body heal and defend itself from harm. As part of the inflammatory response, your body increases its production of white blood cells, immune cells, and substances called cytokines that help fight infection. Classic signs of acute (short-term) inflammation include redness, pain, heat, and swelling.
In contrast, chronic (long-term) inflammation often occurs inside your body without any noticeable causes or symptoms. Chronic inflammation can wreak havoc on the body and may lead to various health problems and autoimmune disorders, such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart Disease
- And more
The good news is we can reduce and control the level of inflammation in our bodies by making lifestyle and diet changes.
What Can You Do to Minimize Chronic Inflammation?
If you want to reduce inflammation, eat fewer inflammatory foods and more anti-inflammatory foods. Base your diet on whole, nutrient-dense foods that contain antioxidants — and avoid processed products. Your anti-inflammatory diet should provide a healthy balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats at each meal. Make sure you also meet your body's needs for vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. One diet considered anti-inflammatory is the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to reduce inflammation.
Like the Mediterranean diet, the principles of an anti-inflammatory diet are healthful ones and the approach is nutritionally sound.
Foods to Avoid
Some foods are associated with an increased risk of chronic inflammation. So, as a first step, consider eating fewer servings of these products or cutting these out completely:
Sugary beverages, including sugar-sweetened drinks and fruit juices
- Refined carbs: White bread, white pasta, etc.
- Desserts: Cookies, candy, cake, and ice cream
- Processed meat: Hot dogs, bologna, sausages, etc.
- Processed snack foods: Crackers, chips, and pretzels
- Certain oils: Processed seed and vegetable oils like soybean and corn oil
- Trans fats: Foods with partially hydrogenated ingredients
- Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption
Other foods have been found to reduce the level of inflammation in our bodies. As a send step, increase your daily servings of these anti-inflammatory foods:
Vegetables: Broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.
- Fruit: Especially deeply colored berries like grapes and cherries
- High-fat fruits: Avocados and olives
- Healthy fats: Olive oil and coconut oil
- Fatty fish: Salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies
- Nuts: Almonds, pecans and other nuts
- Peppers: Bell peppers and chili peppers
- Dark chocolate: Products containing 70 – 85% cocoa
- Spices: Turmeric, fenugreek, cinnamon, etc.
- Tea: Green tea
- Red wine: Up to 5 ounces (140 ml) of red wine per day for women and 10 ounces (280 ml) per day for men
Other Helpful Tips
Once you have your healthy menu organized, make sure you incorporate these other good habits of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle:
Taking supplements: Certain supplements can reduce inflammation, including fish oil and curcumin.
- Engaging in regular exercise: 20 - 30 minutes of moderate exercise (fast walking) is sufficient
- Getting enough sleep: Researchers have found that a poor night's sleep increases inflammation in the body
Rewards of an Improved Lifestyle
An anti-inflammatory diet, along with exercise and good sleep, may provide many benefits:
Improvement of symptoms of arthritis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, lupus, and other autoimmune disorders
- Decreased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, cancer, and other diseases
- Reduction in inflammatory markers in your blood
- Better blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels
- Improvement in energy and mood
Concerned about your overall health? Schedule an appointment so we can discuss a plan that can help you get back on the track of good health.