What is at the core of 85% of our chronic health conditions and modern diagnoses? Inflammation.
While “inflammation” may sound like a scary word, the inflammatory process is a normal and necessary response to trauma and a vital component of the immune system – but only when the inflammation is localized and temporary. On the other hand, when there’s a breakdown in the regulation of the inflammatory response, this can lead to damage of tissue, glands, and organs.
This chronic dysregulation is a hallmark of chronic diseases. Some of the best defenses against chronic inflammation are things that you do every single day. Lifestyle factors like proper sleep, exercise, and stress management all play a role – with the food you eat undoubtedly being one of the most important factors to either perpetuate or reduce inflammation within the body.
Symptoms of Inflammation
Inflammation doesn’t always show up as stiff, achy joints, tight muscles, or skin rashes. Other commonly overlooked symptoms of inflammation that can slip through the cracks include:
- Mood imbalances
- Depression and anxiety
- Brain fog
- High cholesterol
- Gas and bloating
- Seasonal allergies
- Hormone imbalances
What makes a food anti-inflammatory?
You’ve heard it many times before: food is fuel.
And not just fuel that gives you energy – it can also fuel inflammation in the body or help support beneficial inflammatory responses. Every time you eat, you have an opportunity to lower inflammation in the body with anti-inflammatory foods or exacerbate it with pro-inflammatory foods.
But what makes a food anti-inflammatory? It comes down to the nutrients within the food, how it breaks down and how it’s utilized within the body. Foods that contain healthy fats like omega-3 essential fatty acids, fiber, lean protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, bioflavonoids, and resistant starches are all great examples of anti-inflammatory foods.
But just as food can help reduce inflammation, it can also cause inflammation.
Foods that have proven to increase and promote inflammation are refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pastas, sugars, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, processed meats and cheeses, fried foods, and foods that are high in saturated and trans fats.
The standard American diet is chock full of pro-inflammatory foods. When you eat more of these you increase your risk for chronic inflammatory diagnoses such as cardiovascular disease, autoimmune, diabetes, depression, cancer, asthma, Alzheimer’s, and more. Ideally, you want a diet higher in anti-inflammatory foods such as wild-caught salmon, lean protein, flax seeds, chia seeds, avocados, cruciferous vegetables, dark leafy greens, green tea, and spices such as tumeric and ginger.
Often, there are many contributors to inflammation, we have the root cause of many of our chronic conditions, which requires a deeper look into our health. But incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods into your diet is a great way to start addressing this common issue.