Thursday, June 07, 2018

How Diet Can Help Fight Chronic Inflammation

When it comes to biochemical processes that occur in the body, there are two different types of inflammation. You can recognize acute inflammation as the redness and swelling that occurs after a sudden injury like an ankle sprain. It is the body’s way of responding to injury by flooding the affected area with white blood cells, fluids, nutrients, hormones, and other agents that can assist in repair. This type of inflammation is temporary and subsides once the area starts to heal.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a more subtle, underlying array of processes which occur non-stop over an extended period of time and increase the risk for diseases like arthritis, Parkinson’s, and diabetes. While inflammation is absolutely natural and necessary to defend the body and your organs against foreign invaders, like infectious bacteria, prolonged inflammation can actually do harm to internal organs and tissues, specifically when it is not necessary.

The immune system is not perfect and at times, dysfunction may even cause it to mistake the body itself as dangerous, leading it to overreact and attack internals tissues and organs - this specifically leads to autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.

What Are Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation?
There are blood tests which can examine the levels of certain inflammatory markers like c-reactive proteins, however, other symptoms can also be good indicators that chronic inflammation is at work. Symptoms may include:
  • Weight gain - if you are experiencing unexpected weight gain and are concerned that a slowdown in your metabolism is at work, chronic inflammation could be playing a role. Fat cells, like those found in adipose tissue around your belly, are responsible for triggering certain chemicals that aid inflammatory responses in the body. Excess fat could potentially lead to excess inflammation.
  • Fatigue - if your body is constantly working “overtime” because it is always managing unnecessary inflammatory processes, it could result in feelings of fatigue and exhaustion. Some researchers have also found that certain immune cells associated with chronic inflammation can infiltrate key areas of the brain and cause behavioral changes that result in fatigue too.
  • Allergies - allergies at their very core are a mistaken overreaction by the body to a relatively harmless pathogen, like pollen or dander. An increase in allergic activity could indicate that the body is in a constant state of hyper-reactivity or inflammation; symptoms might include frequent stuffy or runny nose, nasal congestion, and allergic rashes (dermatitis).
  • Gut issues - poor digestion issues like bloating, cramping, flatulence, heartburn, an urgency to use the bathroom, and frequent diarrhea could indicate that inflammation-related conditions are at work and your body isn’t absorbing all the critical nutrients it needs from the food you eat.
Additional symptoms may also present in recurring skin issues, gum disease, depression, joint stiffness, and high blood sugar levels.

What are Anti-inflammatory Foods?
The first step in modifying your diet to combat inflammation is to get to know the staples which help fight inflammation on a cellular level in the body. These include:
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables that generate powerful phytonutrients - they include apples, bananas, eggplants, carrots, apricots, tomatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, and kale
  • Whole grains like oatmeal and barley that also offer generous fiber content which helps the body better digest food and extract critical vitamins and minerals
  • Anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, thyme, sage, and rosemary
  • Antioxidant-rich foods like garlic, blueberries, onions, broccoli, and brussel sprouts
  • Foods high in Omega-3’s including walnuts, kidney beans, chia seeds, flax meal, wild-caught salmon and other cold-water fish like herring, trout, mackerel, and sardines
  • Healthy fats like you find in avocado, Greek yogurt, and extra-virgin olive oil
By incorporating more of these anti-inflammatory staples, you will transversely start cutting out unhealthy diet practices that can contribute to disease and illness. Additional guidelines to live by include:
  • Limiting consumption of red meat
  • Cutting out trans fats completely
  • Clearly reading nutrition labels prior to eating
  • Avoiding refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, and high-fructose corn syrup
  • Scaling back sodium consumption
  • Replacing processed foods with freshly, prepared ones
  • Chewing slowly and thoroughly to aid digestion
  • Staying properly hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day
Final Considerations
In addition to regular physical activity, a well-managed anti-inflammatory diet is key to combating the negative effects of chronic inflammation. By taking steps to eat more fresh, whole foods daily, incorporate more healthy “snacks” into your diet, and increase your intake of fiber and Omega-3’s, you can have a profound effect on not just the biochemical processes occurring inside your body but also how you look and feel on the outside too.

This is a guest blog post.

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