Paying attention to inflammation and eating anti-inflammatory foods is one of the most effective things you can do to support your overall health. Since experiencing chronic inflammation is linked to outcomes like diabetes and heart disease, taking preventative steps is key.
What is Inflammation?
Simply put, inflammation is a normal immune response. From an acute injury to unhealthy lifestyle factors inflammation can appear for a number of reasons.
When inflammation occurs, your body is being alerted that there is an injury or an infection. However, not all inflammation is the same.
Acute vs. Chronic Inflammation
Short-term, acute inflammation - occurring as a result of something like the flu or a broken toe - can support the body's natural healing process.
What we want to avoid is chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can come about as a result of long-term unhealthy lifestyle factors including chronic stress, excessive smoking and drinking, poor sleep, exposure to environmental toxins, and, OF COURSE, unhealthy food choices.
The good news is that one way to reduce your inflammatory load is to enjoy eating anti-inflammatory foods regularly.
The Role of Food and Inflammation
The foods we eat can either promote or combat inflammation. "Pro-inflammatory foods" can stimulate an inflammatory response in your body, while anti-inflammatory foods may reduce it.
Along with living an overall healthy lifestyle, eating foods rich in anti-inflammatory properties can help keep chronic inflammation at bay.
Pro-inflammatory foods are often ultra-processed and low in nutrients. Naturally, we want to avoid these. Some examples include:
soda and other sugary beverages
margarine and refined oils
Try to limit or reduce these foods. Ideally, the bulk of your diet should come from whole, minimally processed foods rich in nutrients like whole grains, fruits, and veggies, healthy fats, and lean proteins.
5 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Add to Your Plate!
From fruits to veggies to nuts and more, there are many food choices that offer some major anti-inflammatory benefits. Here are some examples:
Olive Oil - virgin olive oil contains numerous phenolic compounds like oleocanthal, which contains similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen
Use it as your cooking fat, drizzle it on your cooked veggies, or combine with vinegar for a simple salad dressing.
Walnuts - walnuts contain a fatty acid called alpha-lineolic acid (ALA), an omega-3 that helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome
Use as a topping for oatmeal, as a coating for chicken or fish, and blended in smoothies
Salmon - oily fish like salmon are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, nutrients that help keep chronic inflammation under control.
Make it the star of a Buddha Bowl, sheet pan supper, or baked into a burger!
Berries - berries are a powerhouse of nutrients. Colorful and vibrant, they contain anthocyanins, or antioxidants, that have major anti-inflammatory properties.
Add to your smoothies, yogurt, or salad!
Beets - beets are one of the best foods to eat to combat inflammation. Loaded with vitamins and minerals, beets also contain many anti-inflammatory phytochemicals called betalains.
Roast them and add to bowls and salads, make into juice, or add to your smoothies!
The foods you choose to eat on a daily basis have a PROFOUND impact on your inflammatory status... which, in turn, directly correlates with your overall health.
Be Intentionally Well!
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