There is a lot of talk about inflammation and how it is bad for your body. What many sources forget to mention is some inflammation in your body is actually good. It is a natural process in your body!

What is inflammation in your body?

Inflammation is a good, protective healing process which occurs in your body. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, "inflammation is the body’s method of healing itself in response to an injury or exposure to a harmful substance."  For example, if you were to cut your finger chopping onions, your finger would probably become hot and start to bleed, and then you would clean it and the skin would begin the healing process. This would be the inflammation process occurring in your body to help heal the wound in your finger. This type of inflammation is good. You want this type of inflammation to occur in your body.

When does inflammation become an issue?

Inflammation becomes an issue when the inflammation occurring in the body is ongoing (chronic) inflammation. When chronic inflammation occurs, the immune system is actually confused and is attacking the body’s healthy cells instead of the cells that need healing. Chronic inflammation leads to autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease– just to name a few. There is some research showing on-going inflammation can also lead to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. 

How does my diet affect my body’s inflammation levels?

There is new — but limited evidence — that has found some foods you consume may reduce the effects of inflammation on the body and other foods which actually make inflammation worse. For the foods that are said to reduce inflammation, it is unclear how much of an effect it has on the body or how much you need to consume in order to receive the effects of reduced inflammation. More research is needed in this area.

Currently the recommendation is to try to aim for an overall healthy and nutritious diet. Focusing on one “superfood” is not necessarily the answer, but getting a variety of foods is key. Some tips for eating to reduce inflammation can be found below:

  • Aim to consume healthy fats with omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids (Example: fish, nuts & seeds, avocados, olive oils, etc.)
  • Half your plate should be made up of fruits and vegetables. Research has shown consuming berries, cherries, and leafy greens in particular help with inflammation.
  • Choose whole grains such as brown rice, wild rice, whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta.
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates such as cakes, cookies, pies, pastries, white bread, white pasta, etc.
  • Avoid saturated and trans fats from fried foods, processed foods, meats, or butter.

Resources:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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This information is provided for education purposes. Contact your health care provider before starting a new diet or exercise program.