March 12, 2020
It’s constantly drilled in us – eat healthy meals and exercise regularly to maintain good health. But what many people don’t realize is the significant role that inflammation plays in our health, and how the foods we consume can be either pro- or anti-inflammatory in nature.
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to illness or injury. While all inflammation isn’t bad, chronic inflammation keeps your body in a constant state of emergency.
This strain can cause lasting damage to your heart, brain, and other organs. In fact, many serious medical conditions are linked to chronic inflammation, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Certain foods have been linked to high levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in your blood. Here are five to be aware of:
Processed meats (those that have been salted, cured or smoked) like hot dogs, ham, and bacon, contain more advanced glycation end products than other meats. Glycation end products cause inflammation and naturally build up in our body as we age. However, if your diet is high in processed meats, unhealthy levels of inflammation can be triggered, increasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stomach and colon cancer.
Uncured meats – such as steak and burgers – are slightly better for you than processed meats, but you’ll still want to keep your consumption to a minimum. Red meat is high in saturated fats, which can trigger adipose or fat tissue inflammation, increase your risk of heart disease, and exacerbate arthritis inflammation.
The processed sugar in foods like desserts, cookies, candy, and even sweetened beverages can raise your blood glucose levels, which can then lead to higher levels of inflammation.
While white breads and pasta may hit the spot when you’re looking for comfort food, these foods can also increase your body’s production of advanced glycation end products. Swap out the refined carbohydrates for 100 percent whole-grain breads and pastas instead.
The combination of refined carbohydrates and saturated fats found in fried foods is bad for your health, especially if it’s the mainstay of your diet. Vegetable, corn, and other cooking oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids. While your body does need some omega-6, consuming too much can disrupt the balance between omega-3s and omega-6s, which can lead to increased inflammation.
People living with chronic health conditions are often advised to eat a diet filled with anti-inflammatory foods. Fortunately, most of the foods that are considered anti-inflammatory — meaning they reduce or prevent chronic inflammation — are already considered important parts of a healthy diet. Fatty fish, berries, broccoli, dark chocolate, and extra virgin olive oil are a few examples of foods known for their inflammatory-fighting powers.
Combining a diet made up of anti-inflammatory foods with a regular fitness regimen diet is the best way to battle inflammation in your body. Luckily, there are plenty of delicious options to help you reach your goals.