5 Ways to Enjoy an Anti-inflammatory Diet
Have you read the headlines lately?
- Inflammation Is the #1 Cause of All Disease!
- Inflammation: The Secret Killer!
- Beat Inflammation and Save Your Life!
It’s enough to make you rush to the drugstore and stock up on anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil and Motrin. Not so fast! Those NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) usher in a whole host of health problems and aren’t even the best weapons with which to launch an attack against inflammation. To keep systemic inflammation at bay, it’s best to eat anti-inflammatory foods and stay away from over-the-counter and prescription drugs that lead to kidney and heart problems if taken regularly.
Inflammation is both friend and foe. Your body depends on the inflammation response to help protect it from injury and infection.
Let’s say you sprain your ankle. The swelling and pain that accompany a sprain are your body’s inflammation response at work. Inflammation triggers the release of white blood cells to your ankle. These white blood cells help clear away the infection while the associated discomfort tells your body to take it easy and rest so healing can do its magic. While the initial pain might be annoying, it’s imperative to the healing process!
Chronic inflammation, however, wreaks havoc on the body and causes all sorts of health conditions, including obesity, ADD/ADHD, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, migraines, thyroid issues, dental issues, and cancer.
Eat Away Inflammation
You can curb chronic inflammation by eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties. Here are five tips to help nurture a healthy immune response in your body:
Tip #1: Rebalance Your Omegas
Omega-3 is an essential anti-inflammatory fatty acid that your body needs to protect against heart disease, age-related dementia…the list is endless.
Omega-6 is another essential fatty acid that is imperative to health; however, omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, and when it outweighs omega-3, inflammation in the body rages.
Bring your omega-3:omega-6 ratio back into ideal 1:1 balance by cutting back on omega-6-rich foods like polyunsaturated vegetable oils and upping your intake of omega-3-rich foods like oily cold water fish, chia and flax seeds.
Tip #2: Cut Back on Sugar and Trans Fats
Sugar stokes inflammation by telling the body to release chemical messengers called cytokines. Overproduction of cytokines causes tissue degradation and diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Trans fat (think processed and packaged foods) damages the cells that line your blood vessels, activating systemic inflammation big time!
Tip #3: Trade in the Refined for the Whole
We’re talking grains here. Whole grains are much healthier than refined white breads, rice, and cereal. Rich in fiber, whole grains have less sugar and help decrease levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the blood.
As long as you aren’t intolerant of gluten, whole grains are a safe and healthy anti-inflammatory food.
Tip #4: Eat Your E
Research shows that vitamin E helps monitor cytokine production (those pesky inflammatory molecules that can get out of control with their inflammation duties!).
Load up on vitamin E by eating dark, leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and broccoli. You can also get vitamin E and omega-3 together in a handful of nuts. So go ahead and crunch on some almonds and walnuts!
Tip #5: Eat Colorfully: Add some other colors besides green to your plate. Peppers, tomatoes, and beets have all been linked to reduced inflammation.
- Tomatoes contain lycopene, which has been associated with decreased inflammation in the lungs specifically
- Beets give you a hearty dose of fiber and vitamin C!
Everyone’s body is different. What works to reduce inflammation in some, may trigger the inflammation response in others. Start listening to your body and noticing the subtleties. Some common symptoms of inflammation to look out for are joint and muscle pain, asthma or allergies, constant fatigue, and skin problems.
Loading up on junk foods, high-fat meats, sugar, and highly processed foods will increase these inflammation symptoms in your body.