Reducing Inflammation Through Diet: You Are What You Eat

By Gwyneth Short, MS, ATC, CMT ~

Inflammation occurs in response to tissue damage in the body. This can be a result of illness, injury, or an allergic reaction. Inflammation is a healthy response and the body’s way to initiate healing. When the inflammation becomes chronic, however, it can be linked to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s. One of the simplest ways to  address inflammation can be as easy as a visit your pantry or fridge.

Plenty of foods are related to inflammation. Foods that have been associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease are also associated with excess inflammation. This is not surprising, since inflammation is an important underlying mechanism for the development of these diseases. Additionally, inflammatory foods contribute to weight gain which, in turn, is related to inflammation. This effect is due no only to caloric intake, but goes to the heart of these food and their effects on inflammation.

There are also plenty of foods that can fight inflammation. There has been a significant amount of research to show that many foods and beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects.
Foods that contribute to inflammation:
• Breads, pastries, and other refined carbohydrates
• Fried foods
• Sugary sodas and other sweetened beverages
• Red meat and processed meat
• Margarine, shortening, and lard. No, “vegetable” shortening is not good for you
Foods that fight inflammation:
• Avocados
• Berries
• Broccoli
• Cherries
• Dark Chocolate
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Green Leafy Vegetables
• Fatty Fish
• Green Tea
• Grapes
• Mushrooms
• Nuts
• Peppers
• Tomatoes

In addition to proper nutrition, there are a number of things that you can do to reduce inflammation:
Stay hydrated.

Research suggests that insufficient hydration can be associated with higher markers of inflammation and disease, including dementia, heart failure and chronic lung disease.
Be aware of snacking.

Instead of the quick chips and sodas, consider apple slices and peanut butter, raw veggies and hummus, or some nuts and cheese cubes. Eating these healthy snacks keeps your blood sugar at an even level and inflammation down.

Add spice.
Adding spices and herbs to meals may decreases inflammation. Look for recipes that include garlic, rosemary, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, fenugreek, and turmeric.
Eliminate foods.

Try cutting out foods such as alcohol, gluten, or dairy for a few weeks while you stabilize. Gradually add them back one at a time to see if they cause irritation.
Limit processed foods.

Be picky about the products you eat since dyes, additives, preservatives, and other ingredients may trigger  inflammation.

Go beyond your diet.
Eating better is key to reducing inflammation, but there are other factors to examine and address. Exercise and stress management are important aspects of overall health, and play a particularly important role in reducing inflammation. We all want to indulge in the junk foods once in a while. Remember, moderation is key.

Also, when indulging in the guilty pleasures, try to combine it with foods that help to reduce inflammation. If you decide to hit the drive through for lunch, maybe have a salad and some healthier options for dinner.

1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation
2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-anti-inflammatory-foods#TOC_TITLE_HDR_14
3. https://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/nutrition-101/how-to-reduce-inflammation-overnight

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