How to Keep Inflammation at Bay

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Photo credit: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/fighting-inflammation-at-the-meal-table

Inflammation is meant to be a positive aspect of our body’s natural way of protecting itself. If something is wrong, for instance, when you fall and scrape your knee, inflammation shows up at the site of the injury, which causes pain and/or swelling, and that gets your attention. This is an example of a normal inflammatory response. Inflammation is not normal when you have it consistently and you are in constant pain, have irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue or if your doctor tells you your blood shows that you have high inflammation in your body via your C- Reactive Protein lab value (CRP).  More info on why your doctor may want to test your CRP to screen for heart disease here.

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Photo credit: https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/the-role-of-c-reactive-protein

What you should eat to help decrease inflammation:

  • Fruits and vegetables: Most fruits brightly colored vegetables contain high levels of natural antioxidants and polyphenols—protective compounds found in plants.
  • Nuts and seeds: Studies have also associated nuts and seeds with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • Fish and healthy oils: Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, oysters, mussels, halibut, catfish and tuna help decrease inflammation.
  • Whole grains: These grains contain all three parts of grain—germ, endosperm, and bran. Not all whole grains are high in fiber, but they are all good at reducing inflammation because they also contain other inflammation-fighting substances—vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Try: amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat and millet (all gluten-free grains).
  • Beverages: The polyphenols in coffee and the flavonols in cocoa are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea is rich in both polyphenols and antioxidants.
  • Spices: Turmeric with black pepper (black pepper has been shown to enhance the absorption of hydrophobic turmeric).

What you should avoid (inflammatory foods):

  • Beverages: Sodas, alcohol, energy drinks, and refined carbohydrates (sugar-sweetened beverages).
  • Meat: Red meat and processed meats (sausage, bacon, roast beef, ham).
  • Processed foods: For example: emulsifiers added to products like ice cream may have independent effects on inflammation. Read more about emulsifiers and gut microbiome disruption here.
  • Foods with refined grains: White bread, white rice, white pasta, white flour. These foods spike blood sugar, which can cause inflammation.
  • Foods with added sugar: Juices, soda, cake, candy, cookies, jarred sauces, salad dressings. These foods also raise blood sugar, which can cause inflammation.
  • Foods with trans fats: Most stick margarine, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, deep-fried fast foods, and most commercial baked goods.
  • Foods with saturated fats: Whole milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, red meat, and coconut products. These fats also raise cholesterol and increase inflammation in your body. Limit these to no more than 7% of your daily calories.

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Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/fighting-inflammation-at-the-meal-table Published January 2017.