Everything you need to know.
Inflammation is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot lately, but what exactly is it? Inflammation is part of your immune system and is the body’s immediate reaction to a stress that needs to be fixed, fast. This stress can come from your diet, lifestyle, environment, or an infection. When you cut your skin, inflammation is how your body heals itself or when you catch a cold, it is how your body fights it off, and you can usually notice it’s symptoms like redness, pain, heat, or swelling. Eventually this protective response works and the symptoms go away. This type of short-term (or acute) inflammation is helpful, but too much inflammation for extended periods of time can be quite harmful.
Prolonged, chronic inflammation is linked to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. The longer inflammation persists, the more your body tries to heal itself by creating more inflammation, which leaves your body in an overwhelming state of distress. This prolonged state can be caused by poor dietary habits, lack of sleep, excessive stress, lack of exercise, or from the environment. These factors create low levels of inflammation, that never get resolved and continue to build up over the years leading to the chronic disease.
How to stay healthy
There are many ways to help prevent chronic inflammation and your diet is a great place to start. Make sure you eat anti-inflammatory nutrients like vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, and beta-carotene. Aim to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day to get that vitamin C and beta-carotene. Add in the omega-3’s by eating salmon, tuna, shrimp and seafood, nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, and olive oil. Try adding turmeric to your sautéed vegetables, smoothies, or lattes, and sprinkle cinnamon into your hot cereal, coffee, and greek yogurt.
Avoid foods that cause inflammation like, trans fats, excess sodium, added sugar, nitrates, and preservatives. These sneaky culprits are found in canned soups, deli meats, fried foods, and baked goods. Of course, you do not have to give up all of your cookies entirely (I certainly don’t!), but you do have to be aware of when you indulge by making it a special treat and not part of your daily routine. All of this will help keep your inflammation in check and help you stay healthy.