”Virginia, what do you know about foods and inflammation? We know that our food choices can affect the levels of inflammation in our bodies. This week's article takes a closer look at the connection between nutrition and inflammation, and provides a list of foods to help you decrease inflammation.
Reading time: 4 Minutes
- Which foods lead to inflammation
- How to choose foods for combating inflammation in the body
- Inflammation is a normal process that occurs in the body, but chronic inflammation is linked to many serious health conditions.
- Refined carbohydrates and red meat, when consumed in excess, contribute to chronic inflammation.
- Fruits and vegetables can help manage chronic inflammation, along with foods that are high in dietary fiber.
The human body has a host of protective mechanisms that help to fight against foreign pathogens. One of the most recognizable responses to these threats is inflammation. The function of the inflammatory response is to eliminate cell injury and to promote tissue repair. It is necessary for the body to inflame affected areas in an acute manner so as to eliminate threats to these tissues; However, complications arise when this inflammation lasts for too long. Chronic inflammation can develop into serious ailments such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, or diabetes when left unchecked.
One of the best ways that you can fight chronic inflammation is to make changes in your diet. Two of the most common foods in the average American diet that promote chronic inflammation are refined carbohydrates and red meat. These two foods are found in incredibly popular dishes like hamburgers and pizza that seem to make their way into our meals multiple times a week. The danger with refined carbs is that they are stripped of dietary fiber, which is helpful in the proper elimination of solid waste from the body. Lacking this fiber means that more waste products are lingering in your body and thus lead to inflammatory responses in your digestive tract, particularly in your intestines. This diminished digestive response is further exacerbated by the consumption of red meat that is sourced from animals that are being fed a corn and soy based diet with the aid of antibiotics. So not only are we ingesting higher levels of Omega-6 fatty acids that promote inflammation, we are also getting the residual antibiotics that linger in the meat.
“There are foods that we can supplement our diet with or even substitute to help bring down inflammation”
There are foods that we can supplement our diet with or even substitute to help bring down inflammation. To address the issue of improper elimination of waste, introduce more fruits and vegetables that contain high amounts of dietary fiber. This roughage will combine with your stools to aid in the efficient elimination of waste products from your digestive tract. Now to help with the Omega-6 issue, you want to eat more foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids. This form of fatty acid has the opposite effect as Omega-6 by reducing inflammation. Some foods that are rich in Omega-3’s are fatty fish (i.e. Salmon, Tuna, Sardines), olive oil, and nuts.
Among all of the foods listed, both beneficial and detrimental to chronic inflammation, it is possible to have a happy medium and combine some of these foods to reduce your risk for long-term health complications. One suggestion would be to buy red meat that is hormone free and grass fed. You could even combine a better quality red meat with a whole grain bread to increase your intake of dietary fiber. Another idea would be to drizzle some olive oil on your pizza to introduce some Omega-3’s to the dish. However you decide to doctor up your dish, it is always ideal to create nutritional balance so as to not contribute to chronic inflammation in your tissues.
MWi would like to thank the following sources for this article:
Ferrero-Miliani, L., et Al. (2007). Chronic inflammation: importance of NOD2 and NALP3 in interleukin-1beta generation. Clin. Exp. Immunol. 147 (2)
Tarantino, O. (2016). 14 Inflammatory Foods Making You Fat. Eat This, Not That. http://www.eatthis.com/foods-that-cause-inflammation/