Inflammation is a process that the body goes through as a protective mechanism from injury or ailment. The inflammation is essentially your body working to heal whatever injury is existing, which is a good thing overall. However, there can be chronic inflammation, which is not so good for the body. This chronic inflammation is ongoing and lasts longer than the short-term inflammation described above. This chronic inflammation is essentially your immune system attacking the beneficial and healthy cells in your body, which leads to chronic diseases. But what can you do to prevent this the chronic inflammation?? This is where nutrition comes in to play. By controlling what you put into your mouth, you can control the inflammation that occurs inside of you. By consuming certain foods, and limiting other foods in our diet, we can help our body to not only fight off this inflammation, but also to prevent it from attacking our body in the first place! Fortunately, eating to fight inflammation fits the same guidelines as eating to promote a happy and healthy body!
Foods to help fight inflammation:
First and Foremost…Fruits and Vegetables: Fruit and vegetables provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help to fight inflammation. Try to eat fruits and/or vegetables at every meal, and if possible, at snacks too. Then you’re sure to get an adequate amount that will promote healing!
Wonderful Whole Grains: Eating whole grains in place of refined (white) grains and simple sugars (table sugar, sweets, candy, soda, etc.), will provide your body with many beneficial nutrients. Refined grains and simple sugars will actually promote more inflammation, which we want to avoid! Switching your white bread for 100% whole wheat bread, choosing whole wheat pasta, brown rice in place of white, oatmeal instead of sugary cereals, and limiting the desserts, soda, and sugary drinks can help to decrease the promotion of inflammation in the body.
Proper Protein: Choose plant-based and lean sources of protein such as turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, beans, legumes, and decrease intake of high fat meats such as bacon, ribs, and processed meats. Limiting the high fat, highly-processed meats will in turn limit intake of saturated fat, which is known to lead to inflammation.
The Fabulous Fats: Don’t be afraid of fats! Consuming the right kinds of fats can actually be very beneficial for the body, including the reduction and prevention of inflammation. Specifically, monounsaturated fats and omega 3 fats are thought to have high anti-inflammatory properties. Monounsaturated fats can be found in foods such as avocados, olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds, olives. Omega 3s can be found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, along with walnuts and flaxseeds.
The Not-so-Fabulous Fats: As much as possible, we want to try and eliminate trans fats, and keep saturated fats to a minimum in our diet. Trans fats come from my processed goods, so if a label says the food contains trans-fat, that food is likely to lead to inflammatory responses. Saturated fats, which are most common in animal proteins such as high-fat read meat, cheese, and whole milk products, can also lead to inflammation. While our bodies can handle and even need a little bit of saturated fats, we don’t need much. So, limiting foods that are a source of saturated fats can be good for our health and healing.
Paying attention to our diet, and working to include wholesome, nutritious foods will provide a seemingly endless list of benefits to the human body, one of which is the prevention and reduction of inflammation. The less inflammation you have, the healthier your body will be, the quicker you’ll recover, and the better you’ll perform!