The Correlation Between Diet and Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect itself from harm. Inflammation happens when the body sends white blood cells to surround an injured area, causing redness and swelling. This aids in recovery, as it is signaling the removal of pathogens from and repair cells to the site of the wound or injury. However, chronic inflammation can lead to disorders like arthritis, asthma, cancer, and more. Nutrition plays a vital role in inflammation, as what you eat can either aid in increasing or decreasing its presence.
Foods that contain refined grains, added sugars, and saturated or trans fats are pro-inflammatory, as they promote inflammatory markers in the cell. These have become very prevalent as the modern diet has evolved to include more processed foods, which explains why more people experience chronic low-grade inflammation! This is a double-edged sword, as these foods promote inflammation, as well as weight gain.
Just as certain foods promote inflammation, some foods help combat inflammation. This is done by decreasing the response of inflammatory pathways. The following are examples of anti-inflammatory foods:
- Olive oil, avocado, and fatty fish, all of which are rich in omega-3 fats
- Yogurt, kefir, sourdough, and tempeh, which contain probiotics
- Fruits and vegetables, which are high in antioxidants
Consider the following guidelines when incorporating these foods into your diet to decrease inflammation:
- Vary the colors of your fruits and vegetables. The color generally relates to the antioxidants and nutrients the food contains, so more variation of colors means more nutrients!
- Aim for 8 ounces of seafood per week. Salmon and tuna are two great options!
- Remove skin and excess fat from meat and poultry
- Look for whole-grain flour as the first ingredient in grains
- If you are looking for a boost of antioxidants in times of increased inflammation, such as after an injury or surgery, try adding tart cherry juice, turmeric, or ginger to your meals or snacks!
Check out the video above for an easy anti-inflammatory smoothie recipe featuring some of the anti-inflammatory ingredients mentioned here!
Making even a few small changes to decrease pro-inflammatory food consumption and incorporate anti-inflammatory foods in your diet can improve recovery, soreness, and overall health.
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