Combatting Inflammation with Nutrition: A Guide to Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Inflammation is a natural response to injury, infection or irritation. It's the body's way of telling you that something isn't right and needs attention. Inflammation occurs when blood vessels become inflamed, allowing white blood cells (and their toxic byproducts!), to enter surrounding tissues. The result is short swelling, pain and redness in the affected area--all signs of short-term inflammation and that that your body is trying to heal itself.
Inflammation can occur anywhere in your body but most often affects joints (like knees), tendons (like Achilles tendonitis), muscles (like bursitis) as well as organs like kidneys or the liver! Inflammation has also been shown to increase risk of diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cancer, or diabetes when you are chronically inflamed.
Today, we’re going to discuss what inflammation is in more detail, benefits of following an anti-inflammatory diet, anti-inflammatory foods to focus on in your diet, and foods to avoid.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a normal process that occurs in the body to protect it from injury, infection or other causes of harm. However, chronic inflammation can lead to health problems such as heart disease and arthritis.
Inflammation is characterized by pain and swelling at the site of an injury or infection. It also involves increased blood flow to the affected area as well as increased temperature and redness. Acute inflammation usually lasts less than six weeks while chronic inflammation lasts longer than six weeks and is the type of inflammation that has major negative effects on our health.
Inflammation can be caused by a variety of factors including: allergies; infection with bacteria or viruses; poor diet habits, a lack of exercise, or other factors.
Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
An anti-inflammatory diet is a great way to improve your health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Here are some of the benefits:
Improved digestion. A healthy gut is essential for optimal health, as it helps you absorb nutrients from food, regulates metabolism and keeps harmful bacteria in check. Inflammation can cause damage to the intestinal lining which results in leaky gut syndrome (when particles of undigested food pass through into blood circulation). This can lead to autoimmune disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and celiac disease.
Reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease or cancer.
Better skin health. Inflammation causes redness and swelling around blood vessels that leads to breakouts on your face or body.
Improved sleep quality. Reduces pain, can decrease stress and anxiety.
Increased energy levels.
Weight management or weight loss. A lack of inflammation in the body can lead to better metabolism and improved fat mobilization. You’re therefore less likely to retain fat and hold onto that weight.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Focus On
Anti-inflammatory foods are a great way to combat inflammation. Inflammation is a natural part of our body's response to injury or illness, but when it becomes chronic and persistent, it can lead to serious health problems such as cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or obesity.
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Olive oil
- Green leafy vegetables
- Fatty fish
Pure Plates offers lots of anti-inflammatory food options – check out our full menu here.
Foods to Limit
Another way to reduce inflammation is to avoid foods that cause it. Here are some of the most common pro-inflammatory foods:
- Processed and refined sugars
- Trans fats (found in many processed foods or baked goods)
- Red meat (beef, pork, lamb)
- Full fat dairy
General Tips for Eating an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- Eat a variety of foods.
- Avoid processed foods.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables (especially dark leafy greens).
- Avoid refined sugars and processed carbohydrates, such as white breads and pasta, as well as sugary drinks like soda or sweetened coffee drinks that are high in calories but low in nutrients.
- Choose healthy fats: monounsaturated fats found in olive oil; omega-3 fatty acids found in fish such as salmon or tuna; avocados; nuts (walnuts are especially good for you); seeds like flaxseeds or chia seeds--these last two can be added to smoothies for extra nutrition! They're also great sources of fiber which helps keep your digestive system running smoothly so you feel less bloated after meals too :)
- Choose a meal prep delivery company, like Pure Plates, to deliver healthy anti-inflammatory foods straight to your door to make healthy eating EASY
The bottom line
Following an anti-inflammatory diet can be beneficial for your long-term health. Pure Plates makes reducing inflammation easy by delivering anti-inflammatory meals straight to your door. As a reminder, following an anti-inflammatory diet can help you with your weight loss goals and reduce risk of diseases. To get started today, browse our meal plan options.