What’s the deal with inflammation? When and why does it happen? Inflammation occurs when your body’s white blood cells (and the chemicals they produce) help to protect you from infection and injury. That’s a good thing. However, in arthritis and some auto-immune diseases, your immune system triggers inflammation when there is no infection or a reason to do so. This is a bad thing. Chronic inflammation along with stress, a sedentary lifestyle and consumption of inflammatory foods can lead to weight gain and various health problems and diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and Alzheimer’s. Chronic inflammation is harmful to your body and can last for weeks up to years. Even low levels of inflammation on a chronic basis can lead to these diseases and others.
There are healthy foods that can help reduce inflammation and others that are associated with an increased risk of chronic inflammation. The choice is yours. Below are some examples of healthy foods you might want to consider and other foods you might want to avoid.
- Vegetables (especially dark colored)
- Fruits (especially dark colored and those high in fat, i.e., avocados)
- Dark chocolate
- Fatty fish
- Spices (turmeric and cinnamon)
- Green tea
Increased Risk Choices
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
- Refined carbohydrates
- Fried foods
- Processed meats
- Processed snacks
- Desserts and sweets
- Trans fats
- Excessive alcohol
To reduce inflammation, you should focus on fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat foods that are rich in nutrients and antioxidants, and contain healthy fats. Plant-based foods are good sources of antioxidants. Exercise and sleeping well help to reduce inflammation as well.