Natural Foods That Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation functions as a vital and immediate immune response within our bodies that helps protect and heal us from injury. If you’ve ever bumped your leg and within moments began to see redness and swelling, that’s acute inflammation at work!
Unfortunately, inflammation can also be chronic. When there is an actual or perceived threat to the immune system that the body cannot fight off, inflammatory responses set in to try to keep the threat at bay by sending white blood cells and chemical messengers to the affected areas of the body. But when this process continues on long after the threat has passed, a constant low level of inflammation may be the result, persisting for months or years if left untreated, eventually resulting in attacks on healthy organs and tissue. Long-term chronic inflammation can lead to an array of different health issues such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, and skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. Over time, low-grade inflammation can even cause the body to attack itself, as seen in autoimmune diseases. While you should visit your healthcare provider to rule out or uncover food allergies, sensitivities, or other serious underlying conditions, a holistic plan that includes taking a closer look at your diet can go a long way in helping to prevent chronic inflammation.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that exhibits a classic example of the body’s inflammatory response and it shows how what we choose to eat plays a role in how chronic inflammation develops within the body. If someone with celiac disease eats gluten, instead of digesting it normally the body instead sends out an immune response and starts attacking the small intestine. If this goes unnoticed or undiagnosed, inflammation becomes chronic.
Inflammation-causing foods to avoid
There are a few common culprits that affect inflammation processes in many people. Refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and pastries, fried and processed foods, sugar, and some vegetable oils are front-runners for wreaking havoc on our systems. Ditching these foods altogether can be incredibly difficult but luckily there are nourishing alternatives that are tasty and come with a host of healing benefits.
Which foods reduce inflammation?
Including foods that help lower inflammation is an easy starting point. Make sure to increase your consumption of healthy fats like avocado, nuts and seeds; dark leafy greens like kale and spinach; and fruits—especially berries and cherries. And don’t forget to spice it up and reap the benefits with nutritious and anti-inflammatory turmeric, ginger, garlic, and Ceylon cinnamon.
Slow down fast food
If fast and processed foods fill up much of your week, the thought of going 100 percent from scratch will seem totally overwhelming, so start out slow! Replacing just one night of takeout with a homemade meal or opting for an easy but healthy breakfast instead of that muffin on-the-go can help. Embracing your culinary side just a little may even encourage you to do it more often - so start the day off right with three breakfast recipes that are super easy, super yummy, and super healthy!
Convert your carbs
Try switching the refined carbohydrates for starchy complex carbs like sprouted grains, whole grains, oat, almond, and coconut flours. As an added bonus, complex carbs keep you fuller longer which translates into fewer cravings and blood sugar spikes (one way to up your sandwich game is with grain-free almond chia bread.)
Time for an oil check
Replace processed vegetable oils with nourishing healthy fats like olive, avocado, or flaxseed oils, all of which contain a great balance of omega-3 and omega-6. Also, keep in mind that some fats can give off toxins when heated to high temperatures, making some better for uncooked applications like drizzling or salad dressings (and for more details on healthy fats that are actually good for you, click here.)
Omegas in balance
Fast and processed foods are often fried in, or contain, omega-6-heavy vegetable oils. While omega fatty acids are important dietary fats (for everyone!), consuming the right balance of omega-3, -6, and -9 is key. Omega-3s are essential fats that the body cannot produce itself and contain anti-inflammatory properties. Omega 6s are also essential, however, they can cause inflammation when consumed in abundance. Omega-9s aren’t essential and can be produced by the body. Keeping a 4:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is important for maintaining a good balance and reducing inflammation.
When it comes to reducing inflammation, diet is an easy way to start to control how your body functions and feels. Focusing on adding anti-inflammatory foods and reducing those which can aggravate inflammation will help lead to sustainable changes and healing.