“My knee feels inflamed.”
“My joints are on fire.”
“I feel like I can’t move like I used to.”
Do any of these statements sound familiar? If you’ve been dealing with inflammation for a while, you know how troubling and exhausting it can be to try to find ways to push past the discomfort.
But rather than looking at inflammation as an inherently bad thing, you should look into why inflammation happens and what you can do to remedy it.
Why Does Inflammation Happen?
Inflammation stems from one of the body’s most critical functions – immune function, wherein the body seeks to eradicate potentially harmful invaders within our bodies. But that doesn’t mean inflammation isn’t uncomfortable and can’t cause problems down the road. Studies show prolonged inflammation can be detrimental to our long-term health, as it is linked to the presence of many diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and more.
While acute inflammation typically resolves on its own, chronic inflammation is one to keep an eye on. The signs aren’t always obvious, but can include:
– Digestive issues
– Back pain
– Brain fog
– Insulin resistance
The best way to know for sure if you are dealing with inflammation is to get a blood test from your doctor. He or she will be able to detect if C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein produced by the liver, is high or low.
You have inflammation, now what?
You might think that there’s no way to deal with bouts of inflammation without a prescription, but think again. The term anti-inflammatory doesn’t just have to refer to a pill. Many of the foods we encounter every day contain anti-inflammatory properties that support a healthy inflammatory response.
Inflammation and Diet: The Good and the Bad
Diet plays a significant role in inflammation. Therefore, you should know what foods are good for inflammation and what foods can make it worse. For starters, here are some foods to avoid:
- Refined carbs – such as white bread and pastries, can interfere with healthy gut bacteria and raise blood sugar–both of which contribute to inflammation.
- Fried foods – made with margarine, vegetable oils, and seed oils, have been shown to cause inflammation thanks to omega 6 fatty acids.
- Sodas/candy – anything that is high in sugar. Studies have shown that large amounts of sugar can cause inflammation.
- Processed meats – have inflammatory byproducts that come from cooking meats at high temperatures.
These foods can contribute to inflammation and are even associated with a higher risk for chronic disease. On the flip side, a plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet is anti-inflammatory. Foods include:
- Olive oil
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, etc.)
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines)
- Fruits (strawberries, blueberries, oranges)
Certain herbs and spices help ward off inflammation and are a great way to add flavor to your diet. Turmeric, for example, has been used for centuries and is prized for its ability to combat inflammation. With its high antioxidant and polyphenol levels, it can go a long way in managing inflammation. Supplementing with turmeric—specifically high-quality, highly-absorbable turmeric—combined with choosing the right foods, can be the combo you need to help lessen inflammation.
Taking control over your inflammation doesn’t have to be over the top. By implementing lifestyle changes, starting with your diet, you’ll be on the right track to supporting a healthy inflammatory response.
Consider adopting an anti-inflammatory diet such as the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils.