Inflammation is a key defense mechanism in our body. Without inflammation, bacteria, viruses and other foreign invaders would have a much easier time festering inside our bodies and creating all sorts of nasty infections. While inflammation is a natural part of healthy living, some adults, as a response to a variety of environmental stressors, find themselves in a constant state of inflammation. They may find themselves at the radiologist, with no idea how their body got into such an uncomfortable state. Inflammation was not intended to be our body’s resting state and round-the-clock inflammation is known to precipitate a number of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Junk food, smoking and lack of exercise can all be contributors to chronic information.
Since poor diet can contribute to inflammation, it makes sense that a better diet can help alleviate the problem. Here are some foods to keep in mind to help balance our body’s natural healing processes:
- Olive Oil – Switch out your cooking oil from high-saturated fat and trans-fat options like butter and shortening. Instead, change to a vegetable oil which is low in saturated fat. Olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties and heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
- Whole Grains – Eating whole grains like brown rice and whole-grain cereal and bread can also help balance out the body’s inflammation. Switching whole grains for the refined carbs you’re used to is a great choice. This is because refined sugar (like that found in white rice) causes a rise in blood sugar and can increase chemical messengers that cause inflammation. Unlike refined sugars, whole grains can slow down a rise in blood pressure and prevent this process from occurring.
- Fruits and Vegetables – Most nutrition schools will tell you to aim for a high number of servings of fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, but these foods have anti-inflammatory properties as well as just being good for you body. Fresh produce contains a wealth of antioxidants, which are known to squelch free radicals and prevent cell oxidation. Scientists are discovering more antioxidants in produce all the time and these are nutrients you can’t get in a nutritional supplement. Besides promoting overall health, some antioxidants are also direct anti-inflammatory agents.
- Spices – Many spices have been shown to contain anti-inflammatory agents as well. When cooking, consider ways to add ginger, rosemary, turmeric, oregano, cayenne, cloves, and nutmeg to your dishes. They’ll add flavor and decrease inflammation.
- High Fiber Foods – Fiber, the roughage found in whole grains, nuts and produce, is excellent for reducing inflammation. Many legumes, such as split peas, lentils, black beans, and lima beans are high in fiber, as are almonds, sunflower seeds and pistachios.
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