Chronic Inflammation and Diet
Is there a connection between Chronic Inflammation and Diet?
Chronic inflammation is a persistent low level of inflammation which can actually result in damage to healthy cells. It’s connected to serious health problems, ranging from cancer and coronary disease to Alzheimer’s and autism. The causes include poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity and stress, to name a few.
How can you change up your diet to reduce inflammation? First it’s important to know which foods feed the flames and the SAD (Standard American Diet) is full of them.
Foods to Avoid:
- Refined sugars and grains. Food products that are packaged, labeled and advertised have been refined to some extent and include additives (or manufacturing processes) which make them more appealing to us. Often this includes high levels of sugar and white flour which raise blood sugar levels and lead to increased inflammation.
- Processed meats like hot dogs and luncheon meats and fried foods like french fries.
- Trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils. These are uncommon in nature. They are manufactured through a chemical process which adds hydrogen atoms to vegetable, making them more stable (solid at room temperature) with a longer shelf life. These traits make them very attractive for use in processed and fast foods, but unhealthy for consumers. Although trans fats have been banned in some cities and are currently under further review by the FDA, they are still in many processed foods, particularly baked goods. Avoiding them is the healthiest strategy.
- Excess saturated fats found in dairy, meat, shellfish and egg yolks may also promote inflammation so while you may not choose to avoid these all together, you may want to moderate intake.
Foods to Eat:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients, antioxidants and fiber which all help curb inflammation. Include lots of color in your choices (color indicates different nutrients) and make sure you get some dark leafy greens.
- Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and barley are good sources of fiber which is a natural anti-inflammatory.
- Healthy fats (like olive oil) and foods that contain them (like salmon) help create a better Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio.
- Natural inflammatories also include ginger, turmeric, flaxseed, garlic cinnamon, green tea and dark chocolate! not bad, huh?
Does this sound familiar? An anti-inflammatory diet sounds a lot like the Mediterranean Diet and includes so many foods that we’ve been encouraged to eat since childhood.
If your diet includes a lot of the foods in the first list, try to start adding more foods from the second list. Experiment to discover healthy foods that taste good to you , read labels and cook more (best way to know what’s in your food and control portions.
You can start that today.