Are you familiar with the fact that inflammation is your body’s attempt at self-protection? This actually eliminates harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants, and then starts the healing process.
In short, when a certain part of your body is affected by something harmful, there is a biological response to get rid of it, i.e., inflammation, particularly acute inflammation. This indicates that your body is trying to heal itself.
However, chronic inflammation has been associated with a wide array of serious diseases, including migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, heart disease, stroke, and many types of cancer.
Many studies have proven that you can decrease your likelihood of all these diseases by making some simple changes in your diet and lifestyle.
The First Thing You Should Do Is to Minimize or Exclude the Following Foods from Your Diet:
– Trans Fats
Trans fats can actually increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and reduce your HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Additionally, following a diet high in trans fats could increase your risk of insulin resistance, obesity, and chronic inflammation. Moreover, insulin resistance, obesity and chronic inflammation are risk factors for many serious diseases.
Like refined sugars, trans fats are also present in a variety of foods. They are present in deep-fried foods, processed goods, fast food, foods prepared with partially hydrogenated oil, vegetable shortening, or margarine. Remember that a label reading “0 trans fats” does not have to mean that the product is free of trans fats. Did you know that the US law allows products that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat to be labeled “0 trans fats”? Therefore, you should check the ingredients to find if vegetable shortening or partially hydrogenated oil was used in preparation. If so, avoid buying that product since it contains trans fats.
– Cooking Oils
Most cooking oils possess high amounts of omega-6 fats and low amounts of omega-3 fats. This form of imbalance can cause inflammatory reactions and ultimately lead to any of the above mentioned illnesses. In addition, these oils are usually used to make processed foods. Therefore, you should avoid or minimize your consumption of the following polyunsaturated vegetable oils: grape seed, sunflower, corn, safflower, and cottonseed oils. On the other hand, extra virgin coconut oil, macadamia oil and olive oil are healthy alternatives to the above listed oils because they have a balanced omega 6:3 ratio. For instance, macadamia oil has a 1:1 ratio and possesses oleic acid that can improve your cardiovascular health.
– Refined Sugars
Consuming too much sugar has been connected to a higher risk of inflammation, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and type-2 diabetes. Unfortunately, sugar may be almost impossible to avoid because most food products contain sugar. However, you should minimize your intake of high sugar products such as pastries, candies, fruit drinks, sodas, etc. Also, some safer alternatives to sugar include raw, organic honey; blackstrap molasses; and stevia. It is important to know that organic dried and fresh fruits possess natural sugars, fibers, vitamins, and antioxidants. But, like any other food, you may want to avoid consuming fruits in excessive amounts.
– Refined Grains
Refined grains are the type of grains usually consumed nowadays. They are low in vitamin B and fiber, which make them as healthy as refined sugars. The regular consumption of refined grains may increase your risk of diabetes, coronary disease, and even cancer.
Keep in mind that they are present in almost everything you eat, such as crackers, chips, pastries, pasta, bread, flour, rice, and more. As you can see, it is almost impossible to avoid refined grains. However, the best way to avoid them is to grow your own.
– Dairy Products
Research has shown that about 60% of people are not able to digest milk. That’s the reason why milk results in inflammation. Some people who consume dairy products experience respiratory stress, acne, hives, rashes, constipation, diarrhea, and stomach aches. Unfortunately, numerous foods and daily products possess milk. These foods include crackers, cakes, cereals, breads, cookies, etc. So, if you are sensitive to milk, you should replace it with moderate amounts of unsweetened yogurt and Kefir.
– Processed Meats and Red Meats
A group of researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that red meats, including lamb, pork, beef, etc., possess a molecule known as Neu5Gc. Furthermore, your body can build resistance to this molecule and respond with inflammatory defenses. Additionally, it can result in high levels of inflammation, thus increasing your likelihood of cardiovascular disease or even cancer.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund, the regular consumption of processed meats can contribute to esophagal, lung, rectum and colon cancer. So, you may want to avoid eating processed meats. You should substitute red and processed meats for fish, poultry, and veggies. Plus, you can avoid contaminants if you cook the meat by using stewing or boiling.
– Feedlot-Raised Meats
In fact, meats produced by commercial suppliers are low in omega-3 fats and high in omega-6 fats. What’s more, the animals are fed artificial supplements that promote a rapid growth. However, free range animals fed organic foods are a good alternative to these commercial meats.
– Artificial Additives
MSG and aspartame are common additives found in most packaged foods as well as foods served at restaurants. They are known to trigger inflammatory reactions. Therefore, you may want to replace artificial additives with sweeteners and spices that have potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis can be detrimental to your health. Moreover, it can cause irritation and/or inflammation of your liver, esophagus, and voice box. This may also contribute to tumor growth in parts of your body with chronic inflammation. Of course, an alcoholic beverage every once in a while will not result in cancer. However, you may want to minimize your consumption of alcohol. Also, you may want to replace alcohol with water, jasmine green tea, ginger tea, or freshly squeezed natural juices.
As it is almost impossible to completely exclude all these foods from your diet, you should try to minimize their consumption.
Also, here are a few anti-inflammatory foods that you should introduce into your daily diet:
– Holy Basil
Holy basil acts as an excellent anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, and antioxidant agent. In Ayurvedic medicine, this natural remedy has long been used to treat many ailments, including fever, bronchitis, common colds, digestive problems, and more.
This root vegetable is rich in vitamin C, iron and many other essential nutrients. It helps prevent or reduce inflammation thanks to its potent anti-inflammatory properties.
The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger are attributed to gingerols. Namely, gingerols help prevent and alleviate swelling and pain by inhibiting the formation of inflammatory compounds. Ginger has been found to provide beneficial effects in the treatment of many inflammatory conditions, including arthritis.
– Olive Oil
Adding extra virgin olive oil to your diet helps decrease LDL cholesterol, prevent or fight inflammation, and promote weight loss. But, research has proven that these disease-fighting properties are only present in oil made from the first pressing of the olives.
Hot or bell peppers can enhance your resistance to inflammation. Capsaicin is the main active ingredient present in hot and bell peppers. It is used in many ointments to alleviate swelling and pain. But, it is important to know that peppers can cause the opposite reaction in some people. So, in case you experience some inflammatory symptoms after including peppers into your diet, stop eating them.
Walnuts have incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Also, they are packed with essential nutrients such molybdenum, manganese, copper, and omega-3 fatty acids. Experts suggest eating 1 ounce of walnuts per day for good health.
Turmeric is a spice that has long been used in Indian cuisine. It has also been used as a medicine for centuries. In addition, it has strong anti-inflammatory properties that can fight joint swelling, rheumatoid arthritis, bruises, and toothaches. Simply add a bit of it to your meals. However, make sure that you use high-quality, organic turmeric for maximum benefits.
– Leafy Green Vegetables
The regular consumption of dark leafy green veggies such as kale, collards, and broccoli helps enhance resistance to inflammation more effectively compared to the consumption of lighter colored greens. Consuming 1-2 servings of these veggies per day helps prevent inflammation and swelling.
This fruit has potent anti-inflammatory properties. That’s not all, it is also abundant in natural monounsaturated fats. You should consume 5-7 servings of natural fats per day for good health.
– Fatty Fish
If you consume fish, including tuna, salmon, and mackerel several times a week, it could result in lower levels of inflammation. You should use stewing, boiling, or baking to prepare your fish since they are the healthiest preparation methods
- Murray, Michael. ˮEncyclopedia of Healing Foodsˮ;
- Malterre, Tom; Segersten, Alissa; ”The Elimination Diet”;