Inflammation in the body is a naturally occurring process that, most of the time, is healthy for us. Acute inflammation is when the body combats disease or infection. Fevers, redness, and swelling are good examples of when acute inflammation is a healthy response from our bodies. Stress is a natural chemical reaction in our bodies that is also an example of inflammation. When we are stressed or feel a rush of adrenaline, our bodies will heat up, triggering the “fight or flight” feeling, which is a natural means of self-defense. When inflammation becomes problematic is when it goes from acute (sharp and fleeting) to chronic, where the pain is ongoing and hard to control.
The long-term impact of chronic inflammation is when we start to see some significant health problems, such as in heart disease, inflammatory bowel disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis. Being overweight or having a poor diet, in general, can also cause inflammation and result in diabetes and certain cancers.
As much as we would like to take a magic pill to help rid or bodies of inflammation, and we do in the form of drugs like NSAIDs, which have their own negative side effects, the best solution for reducing inflammation is not in a pill but in our kitchens. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats will naturally help our bodies fight back against inflammation. Science has learned that our gut health plays a huge role in our overall health, so what we put into our gut is the best way to keep us healthy over the long term.
The Mediterranean diet is often cited as an example of the types of foods that we should eat to help manage a wide variety of health issues. Fish, avocados and oils, fruits and vegetables are some of the principal food groups found in the Mediterranean diet. These are believed to actively fight against inflammation in the body. In addition to diet, a wellness plan that includes exercise is also beneficial.
Inflammation isn’t a bad thing, but too much inflammation is. What we put into our bodies will help us get the best (or worst) out of life. While we can’t always predict who or why people will suffer from the effects of chronic inflammation, we can work towards reducing those factors in our lives that contribute to this often debilitating issue, like eating well, managing stress, and regular exercise.
Keep reading to learn more about anti-inflammatory foods you can add to your healthy eating plan.