Inflammation occurs when your body recognizes substances as foreign invaders (pollen, bacteria, chemicals, or even certain foods). When this internal response goes on for years, risks may include cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s. According to the World Health Organization, chronic inflammatory diseases are the most significant cause of death in the world. Good news: you can help lower your risk of chronic inflammation.
One of the most effective ways to combat inflammation can be found in a well-stocked refrigerator. “Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Foods that cause inflammation
Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible:
· Refined carbohydrates: white bread and pastries
· Fried foods: fries, chips, donuts
· Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
· Red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
· Margarine, shortening, and lard
An anti-inflammatory diet should include some of these foods:
· Olive oil
· Green leafy vegetables: spinach, kale, and collards
· Nuts: almonds, pecans, walnuts
· Fatty fish: salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
· Fruits: strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
Blueberries, apples, and leafy greens are recommended due to their high in natural antioxidants, which are protective compounds found in plants. Good news! Coffee is still on the list because it also contains antioxidants. Quality coffee with no additives (sugar, milk, flavored creamers) can help support an anti-inflammatory diet. Remember to drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day.
Don’t be afraid to indulge in a small amount of your chosen guilty pleasure here or there when it comes to food. Just practice being mindful of the effect those foods in excess may have on your overall well-being. If you live with an inflammatory condition like diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, eczema, or allergies, please talk with your doctor. Consider including more anti-inflammatory foods in your diet. Remember that you can play a part in reducing inflammation and help prevent disease by making good food choices.