Use Food to Fight Inflammation
Why is inflammation bad for us and what can we do about it? How does what we eat contribute to or reduce inflammation in our bodies? Inflammation is your body's immune system activating itself in response to an injury or to a perceived threat. It is that perceived threat, or chronic inflammation, that is the focus of our discussion here.
Inflammation is part of your body's natural response to infection or injury. If you cut your hand, the cut gets inflamed and the body begins to heal your cut. This is known of as acute inflammation and we need this response to heal wounds, build muscle and fight off infection. Chronic inflammation occurs when the body is having a similar inflammatory response, but there is no cut to heal. It happens when your body is looking to heal a threat when there is no threat there. When our cells work to clean up the inflammation, they can end up attacking healthy tissues and organs in the body. This can lead to autoimmune disease and can contribute to conditions including cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, heat disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, obesity, and asthma.
What Foods to Avoid
Eating certain foods can trigger the inflammatory messengers in our body and raise the risk of chronic inflammation. Some of these foods include processed and fried foods, sugar (including artificial sweeteners--I'm looking at you, Diet Pop!), pastries, cakes and cookies, highly processed oils (canola oil), and gluten.
What Foods to Eat
Anti-inflammatory foods can fight against something called oxidative stress which causes inflammation. Try eating the following:
Phytonutrient rich vegetables: eat the rainbow! Whole plant foods have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: these regulate your body's inflammatory process and include things like salmon, tuna, healthy oils (olive oil), and walnuts.
Antioxidants: which can help to prevent, delay or repair tissue damage. Antioxidants are found in many whole foods including berries, leafy greens, ginger, turmeric, and green tea.
BONUS! These foods not only help with reducing chronic disease by lowering inflammation in our bodies, but can also improve our mood and quality of life.