Medicine isn’t the only way to fight inflammation. Your diet plays an important role too. Learn more about the health consequences of chronic inflammation, and what you can do to stay healthy.
Basic Facts about Inflammation
- Understand healthy inflammation. Acute inflammation is natural and beneficial. Short-term swelling or fever are visible signs that your body is repairing itself after you break a bone or catch a cold.
- Reduce chronic inflammation. On the other hand, ongoing inflammation causes tissue damage. Experts believe it’s an underlying factor associated with many health issues including Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and diabetes.
- See your doctor. While there’s no single test to diagnose chronic inflammation, your health care team can address your individual concerns and recommend medical treatments and lifestyle changes that may help. Ask your doctor about how chronic conditions or food sensitivities may affect your risks.
Eat to Avoid or Lessen Chronic Inflammation
- Think Mediterranean. Any balanced diet tends to reduce swollen tissues. Follow a program with specific anti-inflammation claims or just stick to a high-fiber Mediterranean diet.
- Consume more produce. Plant products contain phytochemicals that promote tissue repair. Aim for at least 5 servings a day of vegetables and fruits.
- Minimize processed foods. Refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and saturated fats have the opposite effect. Drink water instead of soda. Trade in white rice and pasta for brown rice and whole wheat versions.
- Go fish. Fatty fish is loaded with heart-friendly Omega-3 fatty acids. Good choices include salmon, mackerel, and trout.
- Spice it up. Give your salt shaker a rest. Experiment with a wide range of spices famous for their anti-inflammatory properties. Browse your grocer’s spice section for turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. Grow your own garlic.
- Consider supplements. While it’s preferable to acquire most of your vitamins and minerals from food, supplements can fill in certain deficiencies. For example, fish oil can provide Omega-3’s if you’re a vegan or just don’t like the taste of sardines.
More Anti-Inflammation Practices
- Watch your weight. Experts debate whether obesity causes inflammation or if it’s the other way around. Whatever the case, the two conditions are closely linked. Shedding excess pounds often relieves arthritis pain and other symptoms.
- Measure your waist. The way your weight is distributed counts too, because abdominal fat triggers tissue damage. The general guidelines for waist measurements are 35 inches or less for women and 40 for men.
- Move more. Physical activity promotes weight loss and inhibits inflammation. Even gentle exercise like walking is effective.
- Floss regularly. Your teeth and gums affect your whole body because the bacteria in your mouth can travel through your blood. Brushing and flossing each day gives you much more than a pretty smile. Dental hygiene protects your heart and other organs.
- Manage stress. Maybe there’s a connection between your smart phone that makes you available 24/7 and chronic inflammation that doesn’t know when to shut itself off. Make relaxation a priority. Use your vacation days and unwind with daily meditation or a warm bath.
- Be patient. While anti-inflammatory medications often relieve symptoms immediately, lifestyle changes take longer to yield results. It may take a few days to see the first results, and several weeks or months to achieve dramatic progress. The bonus is that there will be no adverse side effects.
Fight disease while you enjoy a healthy diet. Anti-inflammation eating is a lifestyle choice that can help you lead a longer and more active life, especially when you combine good nutrition with other positive habits like regular exercise and good quality sleep.