Inflammation - a common buzz term that is often used and heard these days. Everyone's bodies incur some type of inflammation at some point, as inflammation is your body’s immune response to fight off injury or illness; however, chronic inflammation may cause unwanted long-term side effects and lead to chronic diseases.
Luckily, there are non-medical interventions for chronic inflammation or to reduce inflammation in general! Food can be the ultimate “medicine” for treating inflammation and we’re here to tell you all about anti-inflammatory foods (including some of our favorites from Pure Plates!)
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural process triggered by your immune system to defend itself against disease or to heal. The ultimate goal of the inflammation is to restore homeostasis, or stable conditions in the body that maintain life, regardless of the cause. Injury or illness that inflicts damage to your body initiates an immune response, which causes heat, redness, swelling, pain, and loss of function either in that specific area or all over the body. For example, when you get a cut on your hand, the area turns red and may be painful to touch; this is an inflammatory response!
Inflammatory responses can be divided into categories based on how long the responses stick around. Acute inflammation occurs almost immediately after the onset of illness or injury, but goes away within a few days. Chronic inflammation lasts for months or even years when acute inflammation does not go away. Although this inflammatory response functions to protect your body, chronic or long-term inflammation can be harmful. Chronic inflammation can be induced by chronic stress or chronic illnesses.
What causes inflammation?
There is a wide variety of causes for chronic inflammation, ranging from factors we can control to external agents.
Causes of chronic inflammation include:
- Pathogens that cause disease or illnesses in the body
- Allergens or irritants
- Lifestyle factors - diet, physical activity levels, sleep patterns, etc.
- Chronic stress
- Chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer's
All of these factors trigger an immune response to fight off the foreign invader or persisting illness, which initiates the inflammatory response.
Symptoms of chronic inflammation include:
- Body pain
- Chronic fatigue and insomnia
- Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders
- Gastrointestinal issues - constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux
- Changes in weight - either weight loss or weight gain
- Weakened immune system
How to reduce inflammation
Although inflammation can be treated or reduced with medications, holistic and natural methods exist to minimize effects of inflammation including lifestyle changes, diet changes, and other healing methods. Focusing on anti-inflammatory foods and a healthy diet or meal delivery service helps to reduce inflammation in the body.
Anti-inflammatory foods work to reduce symptoms of inflammation and heal your body. Foods high in antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals work to rid the body of toxins and support your immune system. Additionally, plant-based whole foods nourish the body and supplement a strong and healthy immune system.
Examples of anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Olive oil
- Green leafy vegetables, - spinach, kale, and collards
- Nuts like almonds and walnuts
- Fatty fish - salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
- Fruits - strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
Conversely, it is important to recognize foods that increase inflammation and work to minimize them in your diet. Examples of inflammatory foods include:
- Refined carbohydrates - white bread, white rice, baked goods, sugar sweetened beverages, etc
- Deep fried foods
- Red meat - Beef, pork, lamb
- Processed meat - hot dogs, sausage, deli meats
- Margarine, shortening, and lard
Maintaining an overall healthy, whole foods, and balanced diet provides more benefits than just reducing inflammation and is a great first step to healing your body. We recommend choosing foods that help to support a healthy and nourishing body, such as by choosing a meal delivery service that can assist you in doing this and taking off the work and stress load of having to cook for yourself!