In general, inflammation is a protective response to disease and irritation, however, inflammation can also wreak havoc on our bodies when it becomes chronic and excessive. For example, lets consider the usefulness of a fever when fighting off a dangerous virus versus the uselessness of inflamed, red joints that result from arthritis. Both biological events are the result of inflammation, but the latter is a disease caused by the body over-responding to a perceived threat and can be detrimental to optimal health.
Why We Need To Avoid Inflammation
Like arthritis, many other diseases are caused by the body creating an inflammatory response that is unwarranted. Serious issues like endometriosis, asthma, headaches, heart disorders, hormone imbalances, and frequent digestion problems are all exacerbated by inflammation. Chronic inflammation has even been linked to cancer in some studies.
We have so many reasons to avoid chronic problems with inflammation that it’s important to be armed with knowledge to fight against it. Luckily there are lifestyle changes we can make to help keep it at bay, especially when it comes to the food we eat.
Adopting an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
One of the most wonderful things about nutrition is how including (or avoiding) certain foods can help with so many conditions related to our overall health. We already know that our diet can be modified to fix problems with cholesterol, obesity, and energy levels. To reduce inflammation throughout the body, you can modify your diet by including foods that discourage inflammation and avoiding foods that exacerbate these conditions.
To begin fighting inflammation in your kitchen, be sure to include plenty of tomatoes, olive oil, and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards in your salads and main dishes. Snack on powerhouse foods like almonds and walnuts, include a regular rotation of fatty fish like wild salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. Top your daily low or no sugar yogurt (such as plain Greek yogurt) with organic anti-oxidant rich berries such as strawberries and blueberries.
If you struggle with inflammatory issues often, you may even want to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet for all day, every day. It turns out this is actually quite close to the Mediterranean diet, which comes highly recommended from many reputable, well-backed studies. Based on “good” fats like olive oil, inflammatory fighting protein sources like nuts and fish, the Mediterranean diet is almost custom-made to reduce inflammation.
Don’t Forget the Spices
As a bonus, many strongly flavored spices include anti-inflammatory compounds, so be sure to look for recipes that use turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, cayenne, and cloves in your cooking, too. Indian food incorporates all of those strong spices; so if you are a fan, keep those foods on the menu. Just be sure to choose dishes on the healthier side, such as those centered around vegetables like spinach and tomatoes rather than heavy cream and refined sugars and flours.
Foods to Avoid
Speaking of avoiding cream and refined sugars, there are a few other foods to keep away from if you’re battling inflammation. Trans fats, the well-known evil of processed foods, are at the top of the list, along with milk, white flour (including bread and other glutinous foods), and alcohol. All of these are possible triggers of the inflammatory response in our bodies so they should be kept to a minimum or kept out of our diets completely, depending on your sensitivity.
Be Empowered, Take Charge of Your Health
Armed with the knowledge of what kinds of food help or hurt when it comes to the body’s inflammatory response, plan your meals accordingly and you can look forward to fewer headaches, a better balanced reproductive system, easier digestion, and improved health overall. It’s easier than you might think to fight inflammation with a little bit of knowledge and some delicious food.