When you hear the word inflammation what comes to mind? The redness and swelling that can occur around a cut finger? External inflammation can be easy to spot, but what about the inflammation that goes on internally?
Inflammation is our bodies way of protecting itself against harm, it’s a response that the immune system is in charge of. From a splinter in your toe to germs in the body, signals are sent out that there is a harmful irritant invading the body and the immune system goes to work.
Inflammation sounds all good and helpful, right? Well not always. In some cases, the immune system actually mistakes the body’s own cells as foreign invaders and attacks them. When this persists, the chronic inflammation is harmful and can result in disease. Chronic inflammatory diseases can last anywhere from a few years to a lifetime. A few examples of diseases associated with inflammation are: diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
While yes, as with anything there are medications to control inflammation, but is that the only way? What if the answer to controlling your inflammation wasn’t just a bottle of pills, but also in your kitchen? That’s right, we’re talking about food!
Just like the foods that are unhealthy for us such as fried foods, sugar loaded beverages, excessive red meat, and refined carbohydrates, those too create an increased risk for chronic diseases and inflammation. These unhealthy foods also create weight gain, leading to obesity, which is a risk factor for inflammation.
Now to the good part, let’s talk about anti-inflammatory foods. In order to reduce inflammation, you want to consume a healthy diet. Aim for a diet consisting of plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and health fats.
Top anti-inflammatory foods:
Leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, etc.)
Fruits (strawberries, blueberries, oranges, cherries)
Nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.)
Fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, anchovies)
While the list of anti-inflammatory foods can go on and on, it’s best to load up on these beneficial foods and replace the refined, processed, fried foods you consume. Your body will thank you!
Easy ways to sneak anti-inflammatory foods into your meals:
If you’re having grilled chicken, fish, or whatever meat it may be, try placing it on a bed of greens such as spinach.
Fruit smoothies are a great way to get a variety of fruits in, try adding some flaxseed or chia seed to your smoothie, or simply top your yogurt with some flax or chia seed.
Sautee some vegetables, including some leafy greens, in olive oil.
Add turmeric to rice, vegetables, soups, smoothies, and even tea.
Eat dark chocolate- any time! It’ll make your taste buds happy, boost your mood, and reduce inflammation!