How to Decrease Chronic Inflammation With Diet
Chronic inflammation in the body is linked with many serious illnesses: heart disease, numerous cancers, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune conditions. We usually think of inflammation on the surface of the body presenting as local redness, heat, swelling and/or pain. It signifies our body’s healing response, and means that more of our immune activity is directed towards the site of injury or infection. But when inflammation persists or serves no purpose to increase/improve healing, the end result is damaging to the body. Until recently chronic inflammation was thought of as idiopathic and insidious. Today, research and studies are finding many dietary links.
Listed are foods to eat and foods to avoid in order to decrease/prevent inflammation in the body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, trans fats can induce inflammation by damaging the cells in the lining of blood vessels.While processed foods are slowly cutting back on using trans fat, it’s still smart to investigate labels for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils and leave those packages on the shelf. Ideally, limit your intake of processed foods.
The new bad boy of inflammatory foods!While trans fats may be old news, sugar could be the new news. Too much sugar can alert the body to send out extra immunity messengers, called cytokines, resulting in an inflammatory response. As good as it might taste, and as hard as it is to eliminate, sugar should be eaten rarely and in moderation.
White breads and pastas break down quickly into sugar, which in turn leads to inflammation. In a 2010 study, researchers found that a diet high in refined grains led to a greater concentration of certain inflammatory markers in the blood. Conversely, a diet high in whole grains resulted in a lower concentration of two different inflammation markers.
Animal fats have been linked to inflammation in a number of studies. One tracked how our beneficial gut bacteria change after eating saturated fats and found that “as the balance of species shift, it can trigger an immune response that results in inflammation and tissue damage,” Scientific American reported. Saturated fats also contain a compound the body uses to create inflammation naturally called arachidonid acid, according to U.S. News. Diets lower in this molecule have anti-inflammatory effects and have been shown to improve symptoms in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients.
Alcohol is naturally irritating to our insides, but shouldn’t cause lasting problems unless you overdo it. With a few too many drinks, however, bacteria can easily pass through the intestinal lining, leading to irritation and inflammation, according to U.S. News.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
The average American gets more omega-6 fatty acids via diet than omega-3s. This imbalance can lead to inflammation. The solution is to cut back on omega-6 heavy seeds and vegetable oils and add more cold-water, fatty fish and walnuts.
There’s some research in animals to suggest that the preservative and flavor enhancer MSG can create inflammation. While few of MSG’s effects are understood in much depth, it may be best to avoid.
Even without a diagnosis of Celiac Disease, a number of people report feeling better after eliminating gluten from their diet. In fact, a full 30 percent of American adults are now actively avoiding gluten. Science is still largely inconclusive on what’s being called “gluten intolerance,” but many think that gluten sensitivity can lead to bloating or other digestive ailments and that gluten creates an inflammatory response.
How to Eat a More Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Minimize saturated and trans fats.
- Eat a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish or fish oil supplements and walnuts.
- Watch your intake of refined carbohydrates such as pasta and white rice.
- Eat plenty of whole grains such as brown rice and bulgur wheat.
- Eat lean protein sources such as chicken; cut back on red meat and full-fat dairy foods.
- Avoid refined foods and processed foods.
- Spice it up. Ginger, curry, and other spices can have an anti-inflammatory effect.