Inflammation is a natural part of the body’s response to protect itself, maintain immunity, fight infection and heal.
However, when inflammation persists over time or serves no purpose, it can damage your body and causes illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, fatty liver and Alzheimer’s.
When the body’s immune system responds to injury with inflammation there is redness, heat and swelling. On the other hand, chronic inflammation is often silent and occurs without many noticeable symptoms.
If you have high blood sugar or blood fats (cholesterol and triglycerides), low energy, are overweight or have heart disease or digestive problems, you probably have some level of inflammation.
While lack of exercise, being overweight, exposure to pollution and stress all contribute to chronic inflammation, what you eat can also have a major effect.
Foods That Cause Inflammation
3. Vegetable and Seed Oils: Oils with high amounts of omega-6 fat, such as:
- can be healthy in small amounts
But most people use too much, which throws off the balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fats (fatty fish, flax), leading to inflammation.
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In addition to cutting down on inflammatory foods, you can reduce inflammation by eating whole, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich foods.
Eat plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods:
- Brightly colored vegetables like dark green, red, orange and yellow
- Fruits, especially berries, tart cherries and grapes
- Avocados, olives, olive oil and avocado oil
- Whole grains and high-fiber carbohydrates
- Omega-3 fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and legumes
- Dark chocolate (85 percent cacao is best)
- Green and white tea (black also has some antioxidants)
- Red wine (in moderation)
- Spices like ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper and cinnamon
In addition to a healthy diet, be active, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and find ways to lower your stress levels. The good news is that the things you can do to reduce inflammation also improve your overall health, so it’s a win-win 1!
What Do YOU Think?
Do you notice a difference in your body when you eat inflammatory foods? What other foods cause inflammation for you? What foods do you include in your diet that are specifically anti-inflammatory? Leave a comment below and let us know!
- Do you notice a difference in your body when you eat inflammatory foods?
- What foods do you include in your diet that are specifically anti-inflammatory?
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Alcohol and Public Health - Frequently Asked Questions
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Lea Basch, M.S., RD is the registered dietitian for The Tasteful Pantry. Lea has been in the nutrition industry for over 30 years and was one of the founders of Longmont United Hospital’s nutrition program in Boulder, Colorado. She's a diabetes educator and focuses on gluten-free diets and food intolerances.