Inflammation: If you follow the health news, you will probably hear about it a lot. When is inflammation useful? How could it be harmful? What steps can you take to mitigate it?
What is inflammation and how does it affect your body?
If you are not familiar with the term, inflammation refers to the immune system’s reaction to an infection or injury. In those cases, inflammation is a helpful sign that your body is fighting to repair itself by sending in an army of healing white blood cells. As the injury heals or is controlled, the inflammation subsides. You may have seen this happen with a minor Ankle sprainThe initial swelling disappears within days as the injury heals.
But inflammation also occurs without serving any health purpose, for example when you suffer from chronic stress, suffer from an autoimmune disorder, or are obese. Instead of solving a problem and reversing, such inflammation can persist for a while, damaging the body and possibly leading to health problems like arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and cancer.
This is why inflammation has taken center stage in recent years, and why strategies to reduce it are so popular. Many of these anti-inflammatory recommendations pertain to your diet.
Can changes in your diet reduce unhelpful inflammation in your body?
The truth is, there are still a lot of unknowns about diet and its relationship to infections and diseases. What is clear is that a healthy diet can help improve overall health and longevity. There is also some evidence to support the idea that eating a wide variety of nutritious foods can reduce inflammation. For example, people who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables tend to have lower levels of a substance called C-reactive protein, which is a sign of inflammation within the body.
Additionally, some research has found a link between diets high in foods that increase inflammation and an increased risk of some health problems. For example, A. a study at Journal of the American College of Cardiology It was found that people who ate inflammatory foods, including red and processed meat, refined carbohydrates, and sugar-laden beverages, were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who regularly consumed anti-inflammatory foods, such as leafy greens, beans, and tea.
It may be too early to draw a direct line between the food you eat and the levels of inflammation in your body. Fortunately, foods that seem to reduce inflammation also tend to be good for you for other reasons. So, focusing on eating these foods can potentially benefit your body in more ways than one.
5 Food Swaps to Help Fight Inflammation
Overhauling your diet is challenging, so experts advise making smaller changes over time. Trying a series of simple trade-offs may improve long-term health.
Here are five alternatives you can use to help reduce the number of inflammatory-promoting foods in your diet.
- Instead of regular bread with cream cheese, eat a slice or two of wholegrain toast with olive oil. Whole grains contain substances that help promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your body. These bacteria may then produce compounds that help fight inflammation. Regular consumption of olive oil also has benefits: Along with its anti-inflammatory effects, it may also help lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.
- Instead of soda pop, try a cup of green tea. Green tea contains substances called catechins, which are flavanols that are believed to fight inflammation. (Just be careful not to load your cup with sugar.)
- Instead of corn pie, substitute a handful of unsalted mixed nuts and an apple. Nuts bring a number of health benefits, including providing a dose of healthy fats and protein and (depending on the combination of nuts you eat) phytochemicals. These phytochemicals contain antioxidants that help clean up harmful substances called free radicals in the body. It’s thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, too. Fruits like apples also contain fiber and phytochemicals.
- Instead of steak and roast potatoes, have a serving of salmon and broccoli. The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and other types of fish, such as tuna, sardines, and mackerel, have been linked to improved heart health, possibly due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Broccoli is also a good source of fiber and is rich in vitamins C, E, and K, and folate. It also contains carotenoids, which are a phytochemical.
- Instead of a slice of cake, mix a fruit salad using different types of berries. Fruits like berries are rich in vitamins and phytochemicals that fight inflammation.