The Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Inflammation is a part of your body’s natural defenses against disease. But sometimes it can cause more problems than it solves. Excess inflammation can cause heart disease, diabetes, stroke, vascular dementia, and other health problems.
Your immune system responds to bacteria and other stimuli by creating inflammation, which can include symptoms like redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function. When someone suffers from pain in their neck or low back, it is often a result of inflammation caused by injuries to the ligaments and muscles around the joints of the spine. In fact, the level of inflammation is usually consistent with the amount of pain a person can experience.
Your body can also produce inflammation as a response to what you eat. This immune response creates chronic inflammation that is less noticeable than the redness or swelling that comes with a wound, and it is still somewhat difficult to identify.
Your diet plays a large part in your body’s inflammation level. Eating foods that are high in salt or fat — combined with smoking or a lack of exercise — can cause chronic, low-grade inflammation.
5 Ways You Can Fight Inflammation
Numerous studies have established the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet. While it won’t cure diseases caused by chronic inflammation, what you eat can help you reduce inflammation. Here are a few simple changes you can make to your diet — changes that can also contribute to improved mobility and overall health.
- Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables. Doctors have long extolled the virtues of fruits and vegetables, and not just because they’re full of vitamins and fiber. They also contain a powerful mix of anti-inflammatory substances. Eat tomatoes, cherries, leafy greens, blueberries, and strawberries to get a healthy dose of these substances.
- Fats Matter. Saturated and trans fats can boost inflammation, so switch to olive oil, nuts, and fish for sources of healthy fats.
- Don’t Be Too Refined. Highly refined carbohydrates like white rice and white bread cause a spike in blood pressure, which in turn causes your body to produce more cytokines. Cytokines are proteins, some of which cause inflammation in the body.
- Easy on the Alcohol. Having an alcoholic drink lowers levels of C-reactive protein, another protein linked to inflammation, but take it easy: levels go back up after drinking too much.
- The Spice of Life. The way you season your food can also quell inflammation. Try adding turmeric and ginger, which both fight inflammation.
The Mediterranean Way of Eating
The Mediterranean diet is a well-known example of an anti-inflammatory diet plan. During the 1960s, residents of that area had among the highest adult life expectancies in the world, as well as low incidence of heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.
Based on the traditional eating habits of residents of Crete, Greece and Southern Italy, the diet generally includes lots of fruits and vegetables and fewer servings of meat and dairy products.
Cuisine in the Mediterranean starts with olive oil, since olives are cultivated there. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are considered a healthful dietary fat. The diet also emphasizes foods rich in polyphenols, antioxidants, and fiber. Selectively eating complex carbohydrates such as whole grain pasta and avoiding refined carbohydrates like white bread is healthier than cutting out carbs altogether, according to dietary research.
The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are backed by research. In one study, men with prostate cancer had a significantly higher chance of surviving the disease if they followed the Mediterranean diet.
Staying Close to Nature
Eating foods that are closer to their natural state, like fresh vegetables and fruit, and avoiding highly refined or highly processed foods are likely to make you feel better and help you fight inflammation, according to research. An anti-inflammatory diet may protect you against diseases that decrease your quality of life and your life expectancy. Whether you follow the Mediterranean diet or make a few simple dietary swaps, reducing inflammation is an important step to overall wellness.
Image Copyright: peangdao / 123RF Stock Photo
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