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 flaxseeds, walnuts and cold-water fish such as salmon. Flaxseed oil is a potent plant source of Omega-3 fatty acids but should not be heated.
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.
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 inherent ability 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 www.drjennadye.com.