Inflammation is a natural healing process in which our body responds to an injury or exposure to a harmful substance. For example, skin healing from a cut; however inflammation can be debilitating. Chronic inflammation is when the immune system attacks healthy tissue over an extended period of time. Inflammation can be associated with several chronic diseases including heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, etc.
Living a healthy life with chronic conditions can be difficult at times, but you have the power, eating an overall healthy diet can help reduce inflammation by enhancing the body’s immune system. Eating a variety of foods versus focusing in on one specific food is recommended to reap the anti-inflammation benefits because it is unclear how often or how much of specific foods is needed for this benefit.
Eating Tips: Reducing inflammation
Here is some helpful eating tips when wanting to reduce inflammation:
- Focus on making half your plate fruits and vegetables. Variety is important. Berries contain antioxidants which prevent cell damage and can reduce inflammation. Select vegetables, such as leafy greens (kale, spinach, collards).
- Swap out refined grains with whole grains such as brown rice instead of white or whole-grain bread instead of white.
- Select healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts and seeds. Limit unhealthy fats, such as saturated fat from butter, fried foods and processed foods or trans-fats which are listed on the ingredients label as partially hydrogenated fat.
- Eat fish containing omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, sardines and anchovies as they help reduce inflammation.
Not only is diet associated with inflammation, other factors including stress, sleep, physical activity and weight can all impact inflammation. Remember, balance is key and with these tips, one can avoid or minimize issues with chronic inflammation. Try a simple change and eventually, you will be making a big impact in your life. For more information on chronic disease prevention and self-management, visit the Better Choices, Better Health website.
- Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Inflammation and Diet.
- Michigan State University Extension. Diet and Inflammation.