Certain types of food can cause inflammation in the body. When consuming these inflammatory causing foods for a long period of time, one’s risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and pain syndromes increase. Chronic inflammation can even raise your risk of certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. Switching to a diet that is free of inflammation causing foods can help reverse some of these conditions and reduce pain and inflammation.
Inflammation is described as the body’s response to an injury or an infection. You may experience the symptoms of pain, heat, redness, and swelling, otherwise known as acute inflammation. Other times, inflammation becomes chronic (think of it as happening over and over again), it then begins to wreak havoc on the body.
Unfortunately, you can’t see chronic inflammation. Over time, chronic inflammation can damage healthy cells and organs and cause constant pain in muscles, tissues, and joints.
Inflammation can be caused by a variety of different things. Genetics, stress, smoking, lack of exercise, and diet are all factors. Diet is a great starting point to focus on, especially since many believe a lot of diseases start in the “gut”.
It is a fact that when we are well nourished, we heal quicker. Unfortunately, many Americans consume inflammatory causing foods daily. Sugar, dairy, gluten, trans fat, and refined grains have become part of our every day meals, and all can cause inflammation. It is important to remember that inflammation is not caused by simply one or two foods, but an overall effect of a diet.
Switching your diet to one that consists of anti-inflammatory meals can be medicine for the body. Some basics of an anti-inflammatory diet are:
Try to eliminate:
- Refined sugars and flours
- Most omega-6 oils (such as corn, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oils)
- Saturated or trans fats and fried foods
- Processed meats
- Reduce the amount of carbohydrates, especially processed carbs
Try to focus your dietary intake on:
- Green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, spinach, broccoli, bok choy)
- Tree nuts (walnuts and almonds)
- Wild caught fatty fish that are high in omega-3 (salmon, mackerel and sardines)
- Highly pigmented fruit (berries, pomegranate and cherries)
Food doesn’t have to be boring. Try eating a wide variety of foods by eating colors of the rainbow to make your plates bright and nutritious. When choosing food items aim for quality. Ideally that would be grass-fed and pasture raised meats, as they support the highest nutrient levels. Aim for organic and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods when possible. And try to also consume dairy products and red meat in limited quantities.
Eating a nutritious diet may not completely eliminate your chronic pain, but it is a step in the right direction that you can control. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet can help reverse or reduce some conditions such as developing heart disease, diabetes, and pain syndromes. There is no magical food that can make everything better, but, eating the right combination of foods can help produce remarkable results.