When you hear the word “inflammation,” you probably think of a sprained ankle or a cut on your arm. And while those are definitely times when certain areas of your body might become inflamed, did you know that what you’re eating can also be causing inflammation — and a variety of health problems — all around your body?
As diets and general lifestyles in the U.S. and around the world grow worse and worse, more and more people are seeing health issues attributed to inflammation. Some inflammation requires immediate medical attention; many of the issues so many people face, however, could be reduced or treated entirely by small diet changes.
Need a little help deciphering if an anti-inflammatory diet is right for you? Here are the facts you need to know.
How does a diet cause inflammation? Isn’t that just what happens when I’m injured?
Because of our modern-day lifestyles (and specifically, our diets), many of us inadvertently trigger an inflammatory response, where our immune systems try to save our bodies because they think they’re under attack.
When we eat traditionally healthy foods that are rich in things like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, our bodies know only to react to incidents that seem out of character. But when our bodies are constantly filled with processed foods, refined sugars, or other things that our organs don’t think should be there, our immune systems continuously try to fix these “problems,” even if there’s no actual health crisis. In other words, the body is continuously damaging itself in the hopes of fixing an issue that doesn’t actually exist. Uh oh.
What does inflammation look like? It’s not just swelling, redness, or pain; it can also come in the forms of short- or long-term fatigue, fever, various joint pain, and more. In turn, inflammation can cause or exacerbate bigger health problems, like sore throats, bronchitis, heart disease, arthritis, meningitis, and so many more.
What does an anti-inflammatory diet do?
Anti-inflammatory diets are meant to help the body “balance” itself by filling it with more foods it craves (hello, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and eschewing foods it doesn’t (goodbye, refined sugars and processed foods).
While an anti-inflammatory diet may not automatically get rid of any symptoms that arise, it can help reduce inflammation naturally. If you’re also dealing with some discomfort and think inflammation may be a potential cause, it often makes sense to make dietary changes before doing anything else.
What are the best foods to eat in an anti-inflammatory diet?
Unfortunately, there isn’t one specific ingredient or food group that will solve your problems with inflammation. Luckily, there are plenty of foods that are great for people trying to go the anti-inflammatory route:
And what should you steer away from? Nothing on this list will probably surprise you:
Is there anything else you can do to help inflammation?
In addition to eating a much cleaner and much nutrient-rich diet, it’s also important to make sure you hydrate (stick to water and drop that soda and alcohol!), get your necessary eight hours of sleep, and take it easy with exercise. There are also other special measures you can try, like natural beauty products.
And obviously, if your symptoms continue to get worse or you’re dealing with chronic issues, we absolutely recommend seeing a healthcare professional.
It may take a little time to start feeling better when you’re dealing with inflammation, but be patient and take your time. After all, your body needs to be at 100% if you’re going to achieve gr8ness.
For folks who’ve struggled with inflammation, what foods do you eat to keep it at bay? Let us know!
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