By Karen Perry, a freelance writer with a passion for health and wellness.
If you’ve ever bumped your head, you’ve probably experienced your body’s normal response to injury: a “goose egg”. While it doesn’t particularly feel good, normal inflammation is a part of your body’s natural healing process. When you have an injury, your body responds by swelling and increasing blood flow to the area while your immune system works to repair the damage. When healing is complete, the inflammation process stops and your body returns to normal.
Sometimes the immune system goes into overdrive. Chronic inflammation occurs when your body’s inflammation response doesn’t shut down, potentially resulting in healthy tissue being damaged. It can lead to chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and more. You may not even know you have chronic inflammation because it’s deep inside your body and often doesn’t produce any symptoms until you have a serious illness.
If you’re committed to improving your health and lifestyle, a healthy diet is your single best defense against chronic inflammation. Not only can anti-inflammatory foods help the inflammation you can’t see, they’re some of the most powerful pain relievers in the world.
A growing number of foods have been shown to combat inflammation:
- Fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, halibut and sardines
- Lean meats from grass fed beef and organic and free-range animals
- Deep red and purple berries such as cranberries, cherries, blueberries, pomegranates, strawberries, blackberries, red grapes and raspberries
- Dark Green veggies and greens like broccoli, kale, asparagus, spinach and Swiss chard
- Deep orange foods like sweet potatoes and carrots
- Foods high in flavonoids such as apples, citrus fruit, soybeans and tea
- Tropical fruit such as papaya and pineapple
- Herbs and spices such as turmeric, rosemary, thyme, oregano and ginger
- Garlic and onion
- Whole grains such as barley, bulgur, oats, buckwheat, brown rice and rye.
- Dark Chocolate (at least 70% pure cacao)
- Healthy fats such as those found in canola oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, avocado and nuts
- Seeds like flax, chia, quinoa, corn and hemp
Some foods are known to cause inflammation.
Foods to avoid are:
- Partially hydrogenated oils such as margarine
- Polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as grape seed, cottonseed, safflower, corn, peanut and sunflower oils
- Red and processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs, hamburgers and ribs
- Fatty dairy such as whole and 2% milk, creamy cheeses, processed cheeses and yogurt with added sugar
- Refined grains such as white breads, white flour, white rice, cereals and pasta. Whole grain pastas and breads are a better choice but ideally, you want your grains to look as close to their natural state as possible.
- Pre-seasoned foods and seasoning mixes, which are high in sodium
- Added sugars have been linked to inflammation and chronic diseases. Instead, opt for small amounts of natural sweeteners like stevia, honey and blackstrap molasses.
- Artificial food additives such as MSG and any package label that says “artificially flavored”
Incorporating more healthy foods into your diet will not only help reduce chronic inflammation, it’ll help you live healthier and longer. Tompkins Family Chiropractic is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care and helping families live a healthy lifestyle. Give us a call today at 520-572-2596.