The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Inflammation is a natural process that helps your body heal and defend itself from harm. Unfortunately, it can sometimes run wild and become chronic.
Chronic inflammation can last for a long time—weeks, months or years—and may lead to various health problems. On the bright side, there are many things you can do to reduce inflammation and improve your overall health.
This article outlines a detailed plan for an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is your body's way to protect itself from infection, illness or injury.
As part of the inflammatory response, your body increases production of white blood cells, immune cells and substances called cytokines that help fight infection.
Classic signs of acute (short-term) inflammation include redness, pain, heat and swelling.
On the other hand, chronic (long-term) inflammation is often silent and occurs inside the body without any noticeable symptoms.
Bottom Line: Inflammation is a protective mechanism that allows your body to defend itself against infection, illness or injury. It can also occur on a chronic basis, which can lead to various diseases.
An Unhealthy Lifestyle Can Drive Inflammation
Certain lifestyle factors can promote inflammation, especially when they occur on a regular basis.
Bottom Line: Eating unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol or sugary beverages and getting little physical activity all drive inflammation.
How to Reduce Inflammation With Your Diet
Antioxidants work by reducing levels of free radicals. These reactive molecules are created as a natural part of your metabolism, but can lead to inflammation when they're not held in check.
Vegetarian diets have also been shown to help reduce inflammation (35).
Bottom Line: Choose a balanced diet that cuts out processed products and boosts your intake of whole, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich foods.
Foods to Avoid
Some foods are notorious for promoting inflammation.
Consider minimizing or cutting these out completely:
- Refined carbs: White bread, white pasta, etc.
- Desserts: Cookies, candy, cake and ice cream
- Processed meat: Hot dogs, bologna, sausages, etc.
- Processed snack foods: Crackers, chips and pretzels
- Trans fats: Foods with “partially hydrogenated" in the ingredients list
- Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption
Bottom Line: Avoid or minimize sugary foods and beverages, excessive alcohol and foods high in refined carbs and unhealthy fats.
Foods to Eat
Include plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods:
- Fruit: Especially deeply colored berries like grapes and cherries
- Fatty fish: Salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies
- Nuts: Almonds and other nuts
- Chocolate: Dark chocolate
- Tea: Green tea
- Red wine: Up to 5 oz (140 ml) of red wine per day for women and 10 oz (280 ml) per day for men
Bottom Line: Consume a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods that can reduce inflammation.
Sample Menu For an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
It's easier to stick to a diet when you have a plan. Here's a great sample menu to start from, featuring a day of anti-inflammatory meals:
- 1 cup cherries
- Green tea and/or water
- Grilled salmon on a bed of mixed greens with olive oil and vinegar
- 1 cup raspberries, topped with plain Greek yogurt and chopped pecans
- Iced tea, water.
- Bell pepper strips with guacamole
- Red wine (5-10 oz or 140-280 g)
- Dark chocolate (preferably at least 80 percent cocoa)
Bottom Line: An anti-inflammatory diet plan should be well-balanced, incorporating foods with beneficial effects at every meal.
Other Tips to Reduce Inflammation
Once you have your healthy menu organized, make sure you incorporate these other good habits of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle:
- Supplements: Certain supplements can boost the anti-inflammatory effects of foods, including fish oil and curcumin
- Regular exercise: Exercise can decrease inflammatory markers and the risk of chronic disease (36, 37)
- Sleep: Getting enough sleep is extremely important. Researchers have found that a poor night's sleep increases inflammation (38, 39)
Bottom Line: You can boost the benefits of your anti-inflammatory diet by taking supplements and making sure to get enough exercise and sleep.
The Rewards of an Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle
An anti-inflammatory diet, along with exercise and good sleep, may provide many benefits:
- Improvement to symptoms of arthritis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, lupus and other autoimmune disorders.
- Decreased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, cancer and other diseases
- Reduction in inflammatory markers in the blood
- Better blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Improvement in energy and mood
Bottom Line: Following an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle may improve markers of inflammation and reduce your risk of many diseases.
Take Home Message
Chronic inflammation is unhealthy and can lead to disease.
In many cases, our health behaviors drive inflammation or make it worse.
Instead, choose an anti-inflammatory lifestyle for optimal health and well-being.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Oil rigs around the world keep pulling crude oil out of the ground, but the global pandemic has sent shockwaves into the market. The supply is up, but demand has plummeted now that industry has ground to a halt, highways are empty, and airplanes are parked in hangars.
Under an agreement negotiated by community groups — represented by NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project — the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address the chronically high lead levels in the city's drinking water and protect residents' health.
By Dave Cooke
So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.
By Richard Connor
A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.
Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control showed a larger number of young people coming down with COVID-19 than first expected, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. That also tends to be the group most likely to use e-cigarettes.