Your body protects you from foreign invaders through a process called inflammation, but if inflammation persists after the threat is gone, it can become your body’s enemy. Many major diseases—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, obesity and Alzheimer’s—have been linked to chronic inflammation.
Simple things like eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, consistent exercise, adequate sleep and stress management can have a big impact on lowering chronic inflammation. In turn your risk of developing inflammation-linked conditions decreases or the ability to manage existing conditions can improve.
One of the most powerful weapons to combat chronic inflammation comes not in the form of medicine, but food. Foods have been identified and categorized by their ability to increase or decrease chronic inflammation. Some food strategies that you may want to consider are included below—keep in mind that some of these recommendations are more weighted in scientific evidence than others:
|Increase intake of vegetables, especially tomatoes and dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale and collard greens).||Limit high-fat dairy products (some advocate elimination of all dairy products, especially if lactose intolerant).|
|Increase intake of fresh fruits, especially berries, cherries and oranges.||Minimize saturated fats and trans fats (butter, margarines, shortening, and peanut oil).|
|Include small portions of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, flaxseed, and other nuts and seeds in your diet.||Minimize refined carbohydrate intake; sweets, pasta, white rice.
|Choose whole grain products, brown rice, and bulgur wheat.||Cut back on high-fat meats (beef, veal, pork, lamb, duck, goose, sausages, hamburger, and hot dogs).
|Eat fatty fish 2-3 times a week (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, and Pacific oysters). If you don’t like fish, consider an omega-3 supplement.||Avoid fried foods and foods cooked at high temperatures (charbroiled, grilled, pan fried).
|Drink more green tea, coffee and water.||Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and soft drinks.|
|Choose healthy oils (extra virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil).||Limit processed foods—you know, the ones that don’t resemble anything found in nature.|
|Add spices (ginger, curry, cinnamon, turmeric, saffron, garlic).|
|Increase your intake of lentils and beans.|
|Choose foods in their closest to nature form (least processed).|