Quantcast
Food

How to Fight Chronic Inflammation

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.

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.

This type of inflammation can drive conditions like diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease and cancer (1, 2, 3, 4).

Chronic inflammation can also happen when people are obese or under stress (5, 6).

When doctors look for inflammation, they test for a few markers in the blood, including C-reactive protein (CRP), homocysteine, TNF alpha and IL-6.

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.

Consuming high amounts of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup is particularly bad. It can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity (7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

Consuming refined carbs, such as white bread, can also contribute to inflammation, insulin resistance and obesity (12, 13).

Eating processed and packaged foods that contain trans fats has also been shown to promote inflammation and damage the endothelial cells that line your arteries (14, 15,16, 17, 18, 19, 20).

Vegetable oils used in many kinds of processed foods are another culprit. Consuming them regularly results in an imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which leads to inflammation (21, 22, 23).

Excessive intake of alcohol and processed meat can also have inflammatory effects on the body (24, 25, 26).

An inactive lifestyle that includes a lot of sitting is a major non-dietary factor that can also promote inflammation (27, 28).

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

If you want to reduce inflammation, eat less inflammatory foods and more anti-inflammatory foods.

Base your diet on whole, nutrient-dense foods that contain antioxidants and avoid processed products.

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.

Your anti-inflammatory diet should provide a healthy balance of protein, carbs and fat at each meal. Make sure you also meet your body's needs for vitamins, minerals, fiber and water.

One diet considered anti-inflammatory is the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers such as CRP and IL-6 (29, 30, 31).

A low-carb diet also reduces inflammation, particularly for people who are obese or have metabolic syndrome (32, 33, 34).

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 snack foods: Crackers, chips and pretzels
  • Certain oils: Processed seed- and vegetable oils like soybean and corn oil
  • 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.

Read page 1

Foods to Eat

Include plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods:

  • Vegetables: Broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.
  • Fruit: Especially deeply colored berries like grapes and cherries
  • Fatty fish: Salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies
  • 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:

Breakfast

  • 3-egg omelet with 1 cup mushrooms and 1 cup kale, cooked in coconut oil
  • 1 cup cherries
  • Green tea and/or water

Lunch

  • 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.

Snack

  • Bell pepper strips with guacamole

Dinner

  • 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:

  • 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
  • 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

What Is the Ketogenic Diet?

25 Easy Ways to Get More Fermented Foods in Your Diet

8 Health Benefits From Drinking Kombucha Tea

6 Powerful Ways to Improve Mental Health

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Popular
Desperate for water, Puerto Ricans are resorting to any available sources, such as this stream in Cayey. Angel Valentin / NPR

Desperate Puerto Ricans Are Drinking Water From Hazardous Waste Sites

The ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee called for an investigation into the availability of potable water in Puerto Rico following reports Friday that residents are scrounging for water from hazardous waste sites.

After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed residents were trying to access water from three Superfund sites, and following a CNN story Friday featuring Puerto Ricans taking water from a fourth site, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote a letter to acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke asking if she knew about the situation and calling the reports "beyond disturbing."

Keep reading... Show less
Brant at Izembek Lagoon. Kristine Sowl / USFWS

Groups Slam Zinke's 'Backroom Deals' to Build Road Through Alaskan Wildlife Refuge

Ryan Zinke's Interior Department is working behind the scenes to build a controversial and long-contested road through the heart of Alaska's Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, documents show.

The refuge was established more than 30 years ago to conserve wetlands and habitats for migrating birds, brown bears and salmon and other wildlife. 300,000 of its 315,000 acres has been designated as Wilderness in 1980 under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

Keep reading... Show less
FAO / Giulio Piscitelli

On World Food Day, Pope Francis Says Link Between Climate Change and Hunger Is Undeniable

By Andrew McMaster

Speaking at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on World Food Day, Pope Francis addressed the need for governments around the world to acknowledge that climate change and migration were leading to increases in world hunger.

Francis received a standing ovation after a stirring speech in which he said all three issues were interrelated and require immediate attention.

Keep reading... Show less
The pallid bat is native to the western U.S., where the spread of white-nose syndrome is a threat. Ivan Kuzmin / Shutterstock

Why Are America's Bats Disappearing?

By John R. Platt

It's Friday evening in Pittsburgh, and the mosquitoes are out in force. One bites at my arm and I try to slap it away. Another takes the opportunity to land on my neck. I manage to shoo this one off before it tastes blood.

I'm at Carrie Furnaces, a massive historic ironworks on the banks of Pennsylvania's Monongahela River. Stories-tall rusting structures loom all around me, as do the occasional trees poking their way out of the ground. A tour guide, leading a group from the Society of Environmental Journalists conference, tells me the soil here is full of heavy metals and other pollutants from the factory, which operated for nearly a century before closing in 1982.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
The Amur tiger is the extinct Caspian tiger's closest living relative. Mathias Appel / Flickr

After a Half-Century, Tigers May Return to Kazakhstan

Wild tigers may be on their way back to Kazakhstan.

This news is surprising for a few reasons. First, most people associate tigers with the jungles of India or Sumatra, even the snowy slopes of eastern Russia—not the dry landscapes of Central Asia. But Iran, Turkey and Kazakhstan were once home to thriving populations of Caspian tigers. Unfortunately, sometime between the 1940s and '70s, this subspecies went extinct due to widespread trapping, hunting, poisoning and habitat degradation.

Second, Kazakhstan isn't a nation that often comes up in conversations about conservation. In fact, if Americans recognize the world's largest landlocked nation for anything, it's probably the movie Borat.

Keep reading... Show less
www.youtube.com

California Wildfires: One of 'Greatest Tragedies' State Has Ever Faced

With aid from easing winds, the 11,000 firefighters beating back the Northern California wildfires are making "good progress," as the number of major blazes dropped to 15, the state's fire agency Cal Fire announced Sunday.

But as Cal Fire noted‚ "Sadly, the death toll has risen to 40 people."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Bonn Climate Change Conference, June 4 2015. UNclimatechange / Flickr.

UN Urges World Leaders to Heed Climate Risk, Warns of More Severe Disasters

By Paul Brown

The hurricanes and wildfires that have severely damaged large areas of the U.S. in recent weeks have had no impact on President Donald Trump's determination to ignore the perils of climate change and support the coal industry.

In a deliberate denial of mainstream science, the Trump administration has issued a strategic four-year plan for the U.S. Environment Protection Agency that does not once mention "greenhouse gas emissions," "carbon dioxide" or "climate change" in its 48 pages.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
www.youtube.com

Oil Rig Explodes in Louisiana: 7 Injured, 1 Missing

An oil rig exploded on Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana Sunday night, injuring seven crew members, with an eighth believed to be missing, authorities said.

The explosion was reported at 7:18 p.m. near St. Charles Parish and the city of Kenner. The platform, located in unincorporated Jefferson Parish, is owned by New Orleans-based Clovelly Oil Company.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

Get EcoWatch in your inbox