Should you be worried about chronic inflammation? Chronic inflammation can have devastating long-term health effects on your body, and is associated with various chronic health conditions.
Your everyday diet has a tremendous impact on inflammation, so you need to pay attention to what you eat. Whenever you consume nutrient-rich anti-inflammatory foods, you are taking action to protect your health.
Read on, and we'll show you how healthy food choices can lower inflammation.
What is Chronic Inflammation?
When you get injured or encounter microbes and pathogens, your body responds with acute inflammation and activates the immune system to send white blood cells and protective chemical messengers. Acute inflammation is crucial; it helps your body heal from injury, fight off invading pathogens, and avoid infection.
But what happens when your body is in a state of chronic inflammation and your immune system is constantly on hyperalert, even when no threats are present?
Your immune system can start attacking the wrong cells: tissues in your own body. Research has implicated chronic inflammation in diseases such as ALS, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and bowel diseases. However, doctors and researchers are still studying the complicated relationship between inflammation and disease.
It's not completely clear whether inflammation is correlated with these chronic health conditions or causing them. Obesity, depression, and stressful events all appear to be related to inflammation.
One thing is clear: your daily habits affect inflammation and health. These habits include managing stress, sleeping well, exercising regularly, and making healthy food choices. So, it's essential to know which foods to avoid and which to include in your daily diet.
What Foods Cause Inflammation?
Stressful events, depression, and poor food choices can exacerbate chronic inflammation. Try to avoid foods in the following categories, as these can all lead to weight gain and inflammation.
- Refined vegetable oils: canola, corn, sunflower, safflower
Refined grains: highly processed foods made with white flour, including breads and pastries
Fried foods: fast food and deep-fried foods like french fries and cheese sticks
Sugar: candy, processed foods, soft drinks, and high-sugar beverages
Saturated fats: cured and processed meats, red meat, margarine, lard, and shortening
What Foods Fight Inflammation?
As a general rule, the best anti-inflammatory foods are those direct from nature with minimal processing. For example, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fatty fish reduce inflammation markers and help you maintain a healthy body weight, which is also linked to lower inflammation. In addition, foods high in antioxidants and polyphenols have potent protective compounds.
Numerous studies have shown that omega-3 (EPA and DHA) polyunsaturated fatty acids can reduce inflammation. Food sources of omega-3's include:
- Fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines)
Other healthy foods that fight inflammation include:
- Fruits: especially blueberries, cherries, oranges, and strawberries
Green leafy vegetables: collards, kale, spinach
Nuts: almonds and walnuts
Although the threat of chronic inflammation can be concerning, you have the power to affect this condition. By choosing healthy, whole foods rich in antioxidants and polyphenols and avoiding pro-inflammatory processed foods, you will improve your overall health and reduce inflammation.
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