What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a normal process in your body that is part of host defense and tissue healing. A little bit of inflammation contributes to healing. Generally speaking, inflammation is the body’s immune system’s response to an irritant. Many things can cause inflammation such as pathogens (bacteria, viruses, or fungi), an external injury like a paper cut, and the effects of chemicals or radiation.
What is the difference between acute inflammation and chronic inflammation?
Acute inflammation lasts a few days and helps the body heal after an infection or injury.
Chronic inflammation happens if the illness or infection doesn’t go away or if the body gets injured over and over again (for example, from tobacco smoke). Chronic inflammation last months to years and can damage your heart, brain, and other organs. Chronic inflammation is serious and plays a role in nearly every major illness, including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression. The good news is you can lower inflammation naturally with food.
How can you reduce chronic inflammation?
To reduce levels of chronic inflammation, aim for an overall healthier eating plan. I want to share a few top anti-inflammatory foods and beverages you can add to your plate every day. These foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods
- Sweet potato, carrots, tuna, spinach, and butternut squash are good sources of vitamin A which enhances immune function.
- Kiwi, bell peppers, berries, oranges, and broccoli are high in vitamin C an antioxidant that contributes to immune defense.
- Salmon, mushrooms, eggs, fortified milk, or fortified plant-based milk substitutes contain vitamin D nutrients that keep the immune system balanced.
- Lentils, yogurt, sardines, and tomatoes are good sources of zinc which helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
Tips to add anti-inflammation foods and beverages now
- Add fresh or frozen berries like strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries to smoothies, plain yogurt, and salads.
- Snack on a handful of unsalted nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios.
- Swap your sweetened beverage for hot green tea.
- Add canned sardines, tuna, or salmon to whole grain crackers or salads.
- Add a splash of pomegranate or tart cherry juice to seltzer water.
If you’re looking for an eating plan that closely follows the principles of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and heart-healthy oils like extra-virgin olive oil.
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