Did you know that inflammation plays a role in cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and more? In fact, some medical professionals would claim that possibly ALL chronic disease has some inflammatory component.
Inflammation is our body’s normal and healthy response to injury or attack on the immune system. Inflammation on the surface of the body is commonly described as heat, redness, swelling, and pain. Inflammation is a process where our white blood cells and substances they produce, protect us from infection with foreign organisms, like bacteria and viruses.
Sometimes this process goes awry and the wrong signals are sent to your immune system and the inflammatory cells and other molecules may mistakenly get called into action and instructed to attack healthy parts of your body. The more time they spend in circulation – because you are eating inflammatory food throughout the day, or experiencing continuous stress, for example – the more opportunity they have to damage your blood vessels and lead to a heart attack, or destroy cartilage and cause rheumatoid arthritis, or alter DNA and change healthy cells into cancerous cells. Chronic, low-level inflammation at the cellular level – known as the “silent killer” – develops without pain and can lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Environmental factors include:
While there are other significant factors that contribute to inflammation, let’s talk more about diet and the foods that are inflammatory. These include:
- Refined sugar
- Casein (a protein found in milk/cheese products)
- Refined grains (like white flour or white bread)
- Food additives
- Red meat
Here are some anti-inflammatory foods to include in your diet:
- Don’t forget to include your dark leafy greens, and really, any vegetables!
- Green tea (in moderation)
- Flaxseeds and oil
- Hemp seeds and oil
- Chia seeds
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sweet potatoes
Adopting a plant based, whole-foods way of eating is a natural way to reduce inflammation and help with overall health.
Finally, let’s not forget about the benefits of moving our body too! Exercising 3-5 days per week, for at least 30 minutes per session, helps reduce excess weight, the likelihood of chronic illness, and builds overall wellness. Additionally, exercise–including yoga and meditation–promotes mental clarity and stress reduction.
Reducing exposure to the above factors (stress, diet, environment, obesity) can help to reverse inflammation. Fight inflammation with foods and other healthy lifestyle practices!