While short-term inflammation is necessary for healing your body, in excess it can lead to serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. This is known as chronic or systemic inflammation. Eating a balanced diet full of wholesome ingredients and avoiding certain foods can help you reduce inflammation in your body and maintain a healthy equilibrium.
Why do some foods cause inflammation?
In truth, eating any meal will trigger a short-term inflammatory response in your body. This is due to bacteria, pesticide residues, and other chemicals found in even the most natural of foods. Your body recognizes these intruders as a potential threat and protects your body by triggering a short-term inflammatory response, activating your immune systems. The more artificial ingredients and additives in a food, the worse this inflammatory response will become, and over time will result in damage and disease.
What does inflammation do to the body?
Inflammation is your body’s first line of defense against disease, infection, and injury. Your immune system releases chemicals from your white blood cells to fight off any suspicious characters, and tells them when to attack and when to desist. However, when your natural internal equilibrium is not restored, your inflammatory levels will remain elevated. Chronic inflammation causes oxidative stress, as well as cellular and tissue damage throughout your whole body. This can affect the vitality of your blood vessels and joints and how well your body absorbs insulin, leading to chronic conditions like heart disease and arthritis.
Reducing your inflammatory response to food means eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and fiber, and avoiding highly inflammatory foods.
Inflammatory foods to avoid
Sugar in the form of sucrose, fructose, and high fructose corn syrup are among the most common sweeteners found in food and beverages, so they are hard to avoid. However, studies have shown sugar as an inflammatory marker linked to arterial tissue damage and cardiovascular disease and should be limited in your diet.
Refined grains and flour products
White flour, white bread, white rice, plain pasta all offer little in nutrition as they have had all of the fiber removed, along with many of the nutrients. Rating high on the glycemic index, refined carbohydrates will spike your blood sugar and cause an inflammatory response.
Deep fried foods
Together trans fats and foods cooked at high temperatures create a surefire recipe for high inflammation, leading to high cholesterol, arterial tissue damage, and increased oxidative stress.
Processed and packaged foods
From processed meat to yogurt and cereal, almost any food that is packaged contains artificial additives and preservatives that will raise inflammatory markers. Processed foods also tend to be high in salt and sugars, two inflammatory ingredients you want to limit in your diet.
Eat more of these anti-inflammatory foods
Following an anti-inflammatory eating plan like the Mediterranean Diet will help you reduce the number of inflammatory foods you eat in a day. This diet focuses on whole foods that are high in fiber, antioxidants, Omega-3s, and potassium-rich fruits and vegetables.
Add more of these foods to your diet to help reduce inflammation:
- Turmeric – excellent source of phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Dark chocolate – high in polyphenols.
- Ginger – for their anti-inflammatory properties.
- Green leafy vegetables – for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Berries – healthy dose of antioxidants, fructose, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Green tea – good for its powerful, anti-inflammatory compound called EGCG.
You can find out more about these healthy foods in our blog: 6 Anti-Inflammatory Foods To Add To Your Diet