We hold the key to a happier and healthier life. Sounds simple, but there is still so much about our bodies that we are unaware of at times. Consider inflammation, which we often recognise only when a medical condition manifests itself.
Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. On the one hand, it aids your body’s defence against infection and injury. On the other hand, however, chronic inflammation is the starting point of most diseases.
It’s no surprise that the way we eat has changed dramatically over the years. Nowadays, convenience and instant gratification reign supreme, paving the way for a burgeoning fast food economy. Food and the way we nourish ourselves provide the ultimate fuel for your body, and while certain foods have the ability to heal, restore, and replenish, other foods have a negative impact, loading up empty calories, stripping your body of nutrients, and feeding it trans and saturated fats that do more harm than good.
Inflammatory diseases are common in modern life, ranging from autoimmune diseases like lupus, arthritis, and psoriasis to type 1 and type 2 diabetes and cancer. Sugar and processed foods contain ingredients that can cause or worsen inflammation, whereas fresh, whole foods are less likely to do so. As a result, anti-inflammatory diets have grown in popularity in recent years to combat the lifestyle disorders caused by inflammation.
What is an Anti-inflammatory diet?
The anti-inflammatory diet is a way of eating rather than a specific regimen. The Mediterranean Diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet are two popular examples of this way of eating.
Plant-based foods are naturally preferred as part of the anti-inflammatory eating style, which emphasises an increased intake of fruits and vegetables as good sources of antioxidants.
Dietary antioxidants aid in the removal of free radicals from the body; free radicals are increased in number due to environmental factors such as stress, smoking, and alcohol consumption, and are a natural by-product of some bodily processes such as metabolism. Free radicals can cause cell damage, which raises the risk of inflammation. Our bodies produce antioxidants that aid in the removal of these toxins, but dietary antioxidants supplement the process.
Any mainstream nutritionist would advise you to consume anti-inflammatory foods. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (like beans and nuts), fatty fish, and fresh herbs and spices are all part of the diet.
Fruits and vegetables: Aim for variety and colour. Research shows that vitamin K-rich leafy greens like spinach and kale reduce inflammation, as do broccoli and cabbage. The substance that gives fruits like cherries, raspberries, and blackberries their colour does as well.
Whole grains: Whole grains, such as oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and other unrefined grains, are high in fibre, which may help with inflammation.
Beans: They’re high in fibre and high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Nuts: They contain a healthy type of fat that aids in the prevention of inflammation. (Avocados and olive oil are also good sources.) If you eat more than a handful of nuts per day, the fat and calories will add up.
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Fish: Include it on your menu at least twice a week. Salmon, tuna, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation.
Herbs and spices: They add antioxidants to your food as well as flavour. Turmeric, which is found in curry powder, accomplishes this through the use of a powerful substance known as curcumin. And garlic inhibits your body’s ability to produce substances that promote inflammation.
Foods that are inflammatory
If you have inflammation, avoid anything that is highly processed, overly greasy, or overly sweet.
Wheat, rye, and barley: The focus here is gluten, which is contentious. Celiac disease patients must avoid gluten. For everyone else, however, the science is clear that whole grains are beneficial.
Sweets, cakes, and cookies, as well as soda: They lack nutrient density and are easy to overeat, which can result in weight gain, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol (all related to inflammation). Sugar stimulates the release of inflammatory messengers known as cytokines in your body. The main culprits are soda and other sweet drinks. Anti-inflammatory diet experts frequently recommend avoiding all added sugars, including agave and honey.
High-fat and processed red meat: These contain a lot of saturated fat, which can cause inflammation if consumed in excess. Saturated fat is a problem in butter, whole milk, and cheese. Consume low-fat dairy products instead. They are not regarded as inflammatory.
Fried foods: These foods are unhealthy because they are cooked in vegetable oil. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in corn oil, safflower oil, and other vegetable oils. You need some omega-6s, but too much throws off the balance of omega-6s and omega-3s in your body, leading to more inflammation.
Read more: Can You Drink Coffee While Intermittent Fasting?
Coffee creamers, margarine, and other trans fat-containing products: Trans fats (look for “partially hydrogenated oils” on the label) raise LDL cholesterol, which causes inflammation. There is no safe amount to consume, so stay away.
Other Considerations for Reducing Inflammation:
Gluten: Gluten is causing an inflammatory reaction in an increasing number of people. A gluten-free diet is not appropriate or necessary for everyone; however, if gluten is causing symptoms like bloating and belching and causing discomfort, you may want to consider eliminating it for a while to see if the symptoms improve.
Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes appear to cause flare-ups in some people with inflammatory diseases. Pay attention to how you feel after having them.
Carbohydrates: High carbohydrate diets have been linked to inflammation in some people, even when supplemented with whole grains and pulses. While they do not have to be completely eliminated, reducing your portion size may help you feel better.
And for those who are curious about where and how their cups of coffee rank. Coffee contains antioxidants like polyphenols that help the body fight free radicals and are safe to include in an anti-inflammatory diet. However, coffee should be consumed in moderation; too much of anything can be harmful!