Eating more anti-inflammatory foods can make you healthier, even if you don’t feel “inflamed.”
What is Chronic Inflammation?
Meredith asked me to do an episode on foods to fight chronic inflammation. Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “I don’t have arthritis so, unless I sprain my ankle, why would I need foods that fight inflammation?”
Actually, chronic, low-level inflammation affects more people than you might think. Although you may not feel it, this type of inflammation can increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and just about everything else that tends to go wrong with your body as you get older. So, don’t touch that dial: almost everyone can benefit from eating foods that fight inflammation.
So, why is it that inflammation is such a common problem these days? Well, there are several things that contribute to chronic inflammation. Being overweight, being sedentary, smoking, being stressed, not getting enough sleep…any of this sounding familiar? All of these things can contribute to low-level inflammation which speeds up the aging process and increases your risk of many diseases.
But what you eat is also a huge factor, and can either make chronic inflammation worse or help fight it. The relationship between diet and inflammation is fairly complex. I mean, you could write a whole book about it. Come to think of it, I did write a whole book on it. It’s called The Inflammation Free Diet Plan and if you really want to delve into this topic, I suggest you look it up at your library or bookstore.
But, this show is about Quick and Dirty Tips, so in the next few minutes, I’m going to give you the executive summary on anti-inflammatory diets.
Foods That Make Inflammation Worse
Let me start by pointing out some dietary habits that can make inflammation worse. Foods that contain trans fats, such as fried foods and those made with hydrogenated vegetable oils, are a big problem, as are foods high in sugar. I’m talking about French fries, doughnuts, cookies, cakes, potato chips and all those other things you already know you shouldn’t be eating too often. Now you can add “reducing or avoiding chronic inflammation” to your list of reasons to limit your intake.
Saturated fats also tend to promote inflammation. One way to trim your saturated fat intake is to choose lean cuts of meat and lower-fat dairy products whenever possible.
Finally, as I mentioned earlier, being overweight is a big factor because fat cells produce extra inflammatory chemicals in your body. So, you also want to avoid eating too many calories, even from “healthy” foods.