Inflammation is our body’s reaction to an injury or an infection in an attempt to protect and heal itself. With a proper care regime, that inflammation usually disappears. Acute inflammation is a sudden onset due to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation —long term build-up from age, overuse, disease, or certain conditions like arthritis— is harder to fight.
Chronic inflammation is linked to several diseases such as certain types of cancer (stomach, liver), heart disease, diabetes, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, digestive disorders like Crohn’s and colitis, obesity, asthma, and sinusitis.
With these kinds of conditions, elimination or reduction of inflammation within our bodies is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
For most of us, we think nothing of grabbing an over-the-counter remedy (OTC) to combat inflammation, and while it is extremely helpful with acute inflammation, long-term use of OTCs can exacerbate the negative effects of chronic inflammation on our systems. It becomes a cycle of harm to our bodies.
A proactive and preventative diet can help you stop relying on OTC medication. Many foods exist that can aid in the reduction and prevention of inflammation. Of course, we sometimes can’t halt the swelling after an injury, and OTC anti-inflammatories are needed in helping to reduce pain and inflammation.
First, there are foods to avoid that can add to your inflammation. Processed foods, sugar, gluten, trans fats and oils from vegetable and seed oils, fried food, red meat, food from the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants), alcohol in excessive amounts, and too many carbohydrates, even the healthy complex ones are all foods that cause inflammation in our bodies.
One of the main components of certain foods that help eliminate inflammation is antioxidants. Foods high in antioxidants can reduce and prevent inflammation that occurs within our bodies. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids also aid in the reduction.
The list of food inflammation fighters is thankfully longer than the ones to avoid:
- Cherries and berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, goji)
- Pineapple contains bromelain, a digestive enzyme, used to treat many conditions, ranging from Irritable Bowl Syndrome to ACL tears and joint pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties
- Coconut oil contains high levels of lauric acid and is thought to help reduce inflammation
- Olive oil contains several antioxidants—oleocanthal, in particular, is shown to have the same effect as ibuprofen
- Avocados are high in vitamin C and polyphenols that act similar to antioxidants
- Omega 3-rich foods, including walnuts, almonds, chia and flax seeds, and fish (salmon and sardines)
- Leafy green vegetables: Chard, kale, beet greens, arugula, spinach, endive, collard greens, bok choy, and mustard greens
- Broccoli is high in a powerful antioxidant called glucosinolate
- Green tea: Catechins in green tea are known, for centuries, to reduce inflammation in the body.
- Bone broth: Amino acids glycine and proline found in bone broth aid in the reduction of inflammation
- Spices that make dishes delicious and fight inflammation include ginger, garlic, paprika
- Dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) contains flavanols which aid in reducing inflammation
Tomatoes are a double-edged sword. Being part of the nightshade family, they increase inflammation and are placed on the limited diet list for some people. However, tomatoes are rich in lycopene and vitamin C which help reduce inflammation.
Being alive and active means at some point, we will have inflammation. While OTCs can help out in times of acute pain and inflammation, adding inflammation-fighting foods to our grocery lists can aid in the overall reduction of inflammation that builds up, making us feel healthier.
With any long-term inflammation or pain, please consult your doctor for a full diagnosis.
Dr. Maggio, at Downtown Chiropractic, is a certified chiropractic physician, and full body certified in ART techniques. If you suffer from inflammation in your joints, or you would like more information regarding other conditions treated, call for an appointment @ 505. 242. 8400 and start on the road to relief.
With any change in your activity or diet, please ask your doctor if this is a good plan for your health. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
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