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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.
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A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
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