Did you know that what you eat can affect the inflammation in your body? With some small changes, you can begin to decrease inflammation through your food choices. This is important for everyone but is even more crucial for those with injuries and other medical conditions. Less inflammation means less swelling and less pain.
What are some anti-inflammatory foods?
Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (like beans and nuts), fatty fish, and fresh herbs and spices all help with inflammation.
Research shows that Vitamin-K-rich leafy greens like spinach and kale reduce inflammation, as do broccoli and cabbage. So does the substance that gives fruits like cherries, raspberries, and blackberries their color.
Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and other unrefined grains tend to be high in fiber, and that fiber may help reduce inflammation.
Beans are high in fiber, plus they're loaded with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory substances.
Nuts have a healthy kind of fat that helps stop inflammation (olive oil and avocados are also good sources). NOTE: stick to just a handful of nuts a day, or otherwise the fat and calories will add up.
It’s recommended to eat fish at least twice a week. Salmon, tuna, and sardines all have plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation.
So, what is bad for inflammation?
Sweets, cakes and cookies, and soda. They aren’t dense in nutrients, and they're easy to overeat, which can lead to weight gain, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol (all related to inflammation). Sugar causes your body to release inflammatory messengers called cytokines.
High-fat foods and processed red meat (like hot dogs). These have a lot of saturated fat, which can cause inflammation if you get more than a small amount each day. Other high fat dairy products like butter, whole milk, and cheese should be eliminated or greatly reduced in your diet due to their high levels of saturated fat.
Coffee creamers, margarine, and anything else with trans-fat. Trans fats (look on the label for "partially hydrogenated oils") raise LDL cholesterol, which causes inflammation. There's no safe amount to eat, so steer clear.
Although this article is aimed at those of us with injuries, new or old, it’s important to remember that inflammation can occur all over the body, not just at an injury site. Experts link long-term (chronic) inflammation to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression and Alzheimer’s disease, so there is a greater need to reduce inflammation in the body.