Fight Inflammation With The Right Foods

  • 3 mins read
  • Nutrition
  • Diet and Healthy Food
  • Jillian Lai Mei Siew

Inflammation is one of those fancy jargons we hear so often when talking about health and disease. We’re made to believe that inflammation (swelling) is this bad guy that needs to be kept out and away from our body. But what does inflammation actually mean? Is it really that harmful to us? Can an anti-inflammatory diet help? What are anti-inflammatory foods? Read on to find out.

The true story between inflammation and us

Inflammation is a protective mechanism of our body. It plays an essential role in healing and injury repair to keep our body safe and healthy. However, there’s a thin line between protective and overprotective. Excessive inflammation in the body crosses that line. At this point, inflammation starts harming our normal body functioning. The important thing to understand is that inflammation is usually a sign that something is wrong with our body. The underlying cause needs to be identified.

Inflammation for long periods of time can play a role in various diseases. Within our gut, inflammation can cause a host of unwanted health symptoms, from chronic constipation and fatigue, to irregular periods.

Chronic or low-grade inflammation can lead to a number of problems like:

  • Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia
  • Cancer
  • Anxiety and depression
  • High blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Allergies and asthma
  • Skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis
  • Arthritis

Many studies have been conducted to understand the link between our dietary habits and inflammation. Certain foods increase inflammation, while others prevent it. Let’s have a look at what these are.

Pro-inflammatory foods: What to steer clear of

They say we are what we eat. We can safely say that what we eat can greatly impact the levels of inflammation in our body. Some can increase the risk of inflammation in our body. One must avoid them as much as possible. Here’s a list of some pro-inflammatory foods, which can also affect our weight and overall health.

  • refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)

Weight gain itself can increase the risk of inflammation. So, watch out for these foods and your weighing scale!

Anti-inflammatory foods: Foods to embrace

To ward off excessive inflammation in our body, the best tip would be to follow a natural and healthy diet. Staying away from processed and fried foods is a good start. Instead, start adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. It is believed that eating food rich in antioxidants can help bring down inflammation levels. This includes foods like berries, cherries, plums, red grapes, onions, turmeric, green tea, and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach.

Making changes to your diet is not an easy task. However, if you are at risk of excess inflammation, this could become a necessity. Controlling your food intake, exercising regularly, and keeping your weight in check can keep you safe from the more harmful side of inflammation.

References:
1. What is inflammation? Available at https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-disease/ask-the-doctor-what-is-inflammation Accessed on 21 June 2021.
2. Understanding acute and chronic inflammation Available at https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-acute-and-chronic-inflammationAccessed on 21 June 2021.
3. “Foods that fight inflammation“ Available at https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation Accessed on 21 June 2021.
4. How to Reduce Inflammation and Take Control of Your Gut Health Available at https://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/reducing-inflammation-gut-health Accessed on 21 June 2021.
5. Galland L. Diet and inflammation. Nutr Clin Pract. 2010 Dec;25(6):634-40.
6. All about inflammation Available at https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/all-about-inflammation Accessed on 21 June 2021

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