By Dr. Jenna Dye,
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural response by the immune system to events such as illness, trauma, physical stress, and chronic disease. Acute inflammation is a short-term healing process that warns our body of an injury. For example, if you break a bone, the body reacts quickly with redness, swelling, pain, and heat. This warns us to be more cautious of the injured area, preventing any further damage.
Chronic inflammation is a low level of inflammation that is not visible. It is a result of prolonged acute inflammation, repetitive injuries, or even external factors such as chemicals, medications, nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, and metabolic diseases. If not addressed, this chronic inflammation can aggravate and/or lead to health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, autoimmune disease, chronic pain, and diabetes.
Diet and lifestyle play an important role in chronic inflammation. It is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways, to decrease your overall inflammation, protect your immune system, and make you a healthier you. Here’s what to do.
Increase your Vegetables and Fruit
Colorful vegetables and fruit contain a variety of anti-inflammatory properties. Many fruits and vegetables are beneficial, however green leafy vegetables, berries, cherries, and pomegranate are excellent choices for a healthy diet. Tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango, and bananas are higher in sugar and should be limited or avoided while treating inflammation.
Choose Whole Grains and Low Sugar Foods
Intake of refined grains and simple sugars is associated with the risk of developing inflammatory mediated diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Fructose, which is found in table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and fruit juices can cause inflammation and hinder the healing process. These should be limited or avoided. It is best to eat complex carbohydrates that are unprocessed such as whole oats, whole rye, barley, and legumes.
Good Fats vs Bad Fats
Poly-unsaturated fats high in Omega-3 fatty acids provide anti-inflammatory benefits. The best sources include flaxseed oil, walnuts, and cold-water fish such as salmon.
Processed fats such as soybean oil, safflower oil, corn oil, and canola oil should be avoided. Avoid trans fats, which can be disguised in the form of shortening, margarine, and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Always read labels.
Herbs and Spices
Powerful anti-inflammatory herbs and spices include turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, basil, rosemary, and thyme.
Reduce your Toxic Load
Many industrial chemicals and pesticides can cause inflammation. When possible, choose organic foods and “green” personal care and cleaning products. EWG (Environmental Working Group) is a great resource. Learn more via ewg.org.
Stress can be just as aggravating to the immune system as the foods we eat. Physical activity, yoga, nature, and plenty of sleep may be helpful ways to reduce stress, thus decreasing inflammation.
Food Allergies and Sensitivities
Food allergies/sensitivities can often cause inflammation. Common foods that contribute are dairy products, eggs, gluten, and soy. A naturopathic physician can help you decide if food allergy elimination will be helpful for you.
Dr. Jenna Dye is a licensed naturopathic physician. Her role is to support the body’s foundation to restore and maintain optimal health. Together with her patients, this is achieved by identifying and removing barriers that may be impacting health while creating a healing environment. For more information visit drjennadye.com.