As you may know, inflammatory conditions are on the rise due to common diet and lifestyle choices. To be clear, the body’s inflammatory response is inherently a good thing as a mechanism to help the body to heal, protecting from infection, illness, and injury. All people experience some form of acute inflammation whether it be from allergens, infections, burns, or viruses. These acute forms are normally temporary and may resolve on their own or can be promptly treated with natural or pharmaceutical interventions. The more problematic form is called chronic inflammation, when the body experiences low-to-elevated levels of inflammation throughout the body on a consistent basis. Chronic inflammation doesn’t tend to produce obvious symptoms like acute inflammation does where rashes and generalized symptoms appear. Low-level inflammation occurring on a regular basis impacts the inner body on a gradual level, ultimately contributing to many of the common diseases impacting Americans today.
What causes chronic inflammation?
Chronic inflammation can occur as a result of an autoimmune disorder; however, most cases are inextricably linked to diet and lifestyle, especially what we put into our bodies. Here’s a quick list of several inflammatory foods and behaviors you should avoid:
- Sugar – A high sugar diet is one of the top contributors of inflammation. This includes high-fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners which are particularly harmful in bringing about diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease, and obesity.
- Carbohydrates – Refined carbs such as white breads, pastas, rice, pastries, flour and more.
- Processed foods – Processed foods found in most grocery aisles contain high levels of preservatives, trans fats, sugars, sodium, artificial sweeteners, flavorings, food coloring, etc.
- Vegetable oils – Abundantly found in processed items and in fast food, vegetable oils containing high amounts of omega-6s can throw off the body’s preferred ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s, resulting in inflammation.
- Excessive alcohol use – Drinking too much alcohol also increases your body’s inflammation levels.
- Physical inactivity – A sedentary lifestyle or a life that revolves around sitting or lying down can definitely promote inflammation.
Overhaul your diet
Diet models like Mediterranean, Ketogenic, and DASH that fight inflammation restricts foods such as refined carbs, preservatives, high-sodium, fillers, and sugars while incorporating many more vegetables, fiber, and minimally processed items. More vegetables in your diet will also provide inflammation fighting antioxidants along with plenty of vitamins and minerals to keep your health in check. Load up on spices like turmeric, herbs, nuts, seeds and get plenty of healthy fats, omega 3s and heart healthy oils in your diet such as: Olive oil, avocados, wild caught salmon, and mackerel. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet will increase your longevity, improve your quality of life by slashing risks for a number of potential diseases and disorders.
Here are 7 benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet that might get you excited about making the switch:
- Sticking with an anti-inflammatory diet that greatly reduces sugar and carbs can cut your risk of developing diabetes and insulin resistance way down, promoting balanced blood sugar and lowered insulin levels.
- The majority of overweight and obese patients have chronically high inflammation levels. Cutting back on inflammatory foods and incorporating 30 minutes of physical activity each day can keep your weight under control. Weight management is important for overall well-being and to avoid a slew of weight related diseases.
- Inflammation is one of the main contributors to heart disease. High blood pressure, hardening of the arterial walls, and high triglycerides all coincide with a high-inflammatory diet. Trying stress management techniques and getting 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times per week will reduce cardiovascular inflammation.
- Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, neurological disorders, and depression have been linked to chronic inflammation.
- Chronic inflammation is also in large part responsible for chronic or intractable pain along with arthritic conditions.
- Improvement of autoimmune disorders. If you’ve been diagnosed with lupus, inflammatory bowel syndrome or any other autoimmune disorders, following an anti-inflammatory diet can reduce symptoms of fatigue, swelling, and help prevent many recurring flare-ups.
- Inflammation can also contribute to fatty liver disease, poor gut health, a sluggish metabolism, and poor immunity. This can breed the environment for the development of cancers, infections, and lessen the body’s defenses against viruses and bacteria.