If you have found yourself struggling with the symptoms of inflammation, it is likely that you’d do whatever you can to help reduce inflammation. In recent times, doctors have found that the best way to combat the symptoms of inflammation may not be what we have available in the way of anti-inflammatory medications but in the foods, we eat every day.
Today we’ll be talking in-depth about what inflammation is, what foods you should eat to reduce inflammation, and more. We will even talk about possible supplements that you can use to reduce the effects of inflammation as well.
What is Inflammation?
So what is inflammation and why does it occur? Inflammation occurs when our body identifies a presence within our bodies as something potentially threatening. When the body recognizes something foreign like a microbe or chemical, it seeks to protect itself from harm, and inflammation occurs.
There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation is the most commonly known form of inflammation and is the type known to occur when we have certain injuries such as a cut or scrape. Acute inflammation can be observed on our bodies in the appearance of a scab, for example. When our bodies detect an open wound, they sent white blood cells to the location to surround and protect it from infection- causing the swelling we know as inflammation.
The second type of inflammation, chronic inflammation, occurs when the body locates other types of unwanted substances within the body. These other types of substances may include anything from an excess of fat cells to the presence of harmful chemicals or toxins.
Chronic inflammation can be seen as a direct consequence of acute inflammation. The biggest difference between acute inflammation and chronic inflammation is that acute is known to be a short-term bout of inflammation while chronic forms of inflammation are known to last for a long period of time.
What Are the Symptoms of Inflammation?
While inflammation is a very important process our bodies go through in order to protect themselves, it can be harmful in periods of prolonged exposure. In fact, chronic bouts of inflammation have been linked to a variety of degenerative diseases. An example of a few of these are:
- Heart disease
Aside from the symptoms present in each of these diseases, chronic inflammation has also been known to cause a variety of damaging symptoms such as:
- Body aches and pain
- Depression and anxiety
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Frequent infections
- Shortness of breath
- Dry eyes
- Skin outbreaks
- Weight gain/obesity
What Foods Are Good For Inflammation?
While medications are an important way of dealing with the symptoms and struggles associated with inflammation, many doctors now recommend considering an anti-inflammatory diet.
Making the switch to a more conscious diet won’t completely rid you of your inflammation and the symptoms it causes, it can help regulate bouts and flare-ups. Better yet, the foods that make up a balanced anti-inflammatory diet are all-around healthy food choices so the decision to adopt this diet will be good for you even if you see no massive improvements when it comes to inflammation.
So what foods are recommended to combat inflammation? You can think of an anti-inflammatory diet as the basic diet that any nutritionist would recommend. An anti-inflammatory diet consists of a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and plant-based proteins. Let’s further breakdown the recommendations!
1. Whole Grains
Grains tend to be high in fiber and this is ideal as fiber has been shown to assist in reducing inflammation. Make brown rice, whole wheat bread, and other unrefined grains a part of your everyday diet.
2. Fruits and Vegetables
When it comes to an anti-inflammatory diet, the more colors the better! Greens that are high in vitamin K (like kale) have been shown to greatly assist in reducing inflammation. In the category of fruits, berries in particular have been particularly recognized to help fight inflammation. The best berries to consider include raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries.
Another case of a food group that is very high in fiber, would be beans are a great addition to any anti-inflammatory diet. As an added plus, beans such as pinto beans or black beans are great sources of antioxidants.
If you’re a fan of avocados, it’s likely that you know they are great sources of the good kind of fat. These good forms of fats found in avocados (which falls into the category of fruit) are also found in a variety of types of nuts such as almonds or cashews. A handful of almonds a day might just help keep the inflammation away.
Most experts recommend making a fish dish part of your diet at least twice per week to see successful results in fighting inflammation. Why? Fish such as salmon or tuna are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids- known to be particularly good at fighting chronic inflammation.
What Foods Are Bad For Inflammation?
Now that we’ve discussed foods that are good for inflammation in detail, you may be asking yourself, “So what types of foods should I avoid?”. That’s a very fair question and, unfortunately, there are certain types of foods somebody suffering from chronic inflammation should certainly avoid. Let’s talk about a few of these now!
The best way to categorize foods that are bad for inflammation is to identify the foods known for causing cardiovascular diseases- one of which is excessive amounts of sugars.
Excessive amounts of sugar intake have been found to be directly attributed to chronic inflammation. Instead of packing in all the sweetness you can possibly find, consider some substitutes for sugar that won’t cause inflammation! These include natural sweeteners like honey or stevia.
2. Foods High in Trans Fats
Trans fatty acids have been shown to be a dangerous culprit in respect to chronic inflammation. Trans fatty acids do two very harmful things in respect to inflammation simultaneously: they lower the levels of “good” cholesterol found in the body while raising the “bad” levels of cholesterol.
3. Dairy Products
Dairy products, particularly milk, have been found to be great contributing factors to the appearance of inflammation over time. In fact, only 60% of the world’s population is able to digest milk at all, leading researchers to believe that the ability to digest milk past infancy is actually abnormal.
Can You Take Supplements for Inflammation?
If you’d like to take the step in changing your diet so that you’re consuming less of the foods known to be bad for inflammation but find yourself struggling or you’re just not the biggest fan of fruits and vegetables, don’t worry! There are a variety of supplements available that you can use to help boost your body’s ability to reduce inflammation. Here are a few examples:
1. Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Several studies have found that alpha-lipoic acid has been found to dramatically reduce inflammation in the case of conditions like cancer, heart disease, insulin resistance, and more!
Curcumin is found in the spice turmeric. It has been found to be efficient in reducing inflammation and improving the symptoms of conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The ginger root possesses two components, zingerone, and gingerol, which have been found to be particularly useful in combating inflammation in the case of kidney damage, breast cancer, and colitis.
4. Fish Oil
If you don’t have a particular taste for fish, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on those important omega 3 fatty acids that we discussed earlier! Fish oil is a supplement that will make sure you get your daily dose of omega 3’s without having to actually consume fish. Fish oil has been shown to be helpful in reducing inflammation in the cases of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and a number of other illnesses.