Chronic inflammation can be debilitating and painful for those suffering. It can affect everything from the joints to the gut and is linked to various chronic health issues, such as heart disease and diabetes. A healthy diet high in anti-inflammatory foods can help ease symptoms of chronic inflammation and can also help reverse the signs of chronic health issues.
Chronic inflammation is a persistent immune response over a long period. It is linked to many health issues and diseases.
Chronic inflammation can be caused by a number of things, including exposure to irritants over a long period, reoccurring episodes of acute inflammation, or failure to get to the root cause of inflammation.
A number of foods are known to help lessen the symptoms of chronic inflammation. Foods such as nuts and seeds as well as berries have many anti-inflammatory properties and can be easily added to everyday meals.
What is chronic inflammation?
Chronic inflammation is a state of persistent immune activation, usually lasting months or years, It is linked to various health issues like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Chronic inflammatory diseases are the leading cause of death in the world.
Symptoms of chronic inflammation
Chronic inflammation can manifest in many ways, and symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause and location. Some of the common symptoms are:
- Low energy
- Pain and stiffness of the joints
- Digestive health issues
- Allergies and asthma
- Skin problems
- Mood disorders
- Weight gain
Causes of chronic inflammation
There are three main factors that can increase a person's susceptibility to chronic inflammation:
- Failure to get to the root cause of acute inflammation. When this happens, the infection or issue causing the acute inflammation can become chronic.
- Exposure to a low-level irritant. This can cause a build-up of inflammation over a long period. An example would be exposure to inflammatory foods eaten over the years before becoming problematic.
- Reoccurring episodes of acute inflammation. This is the buildup of inflammation over time due to the body’s inability to completely rid the body of toxins, causing inflammation between episodes of acute inflammation. An example of this would be chronic gout.
Why is a healthy diet important?
A healthy diet is important to help reduce oxidative stress, which happens when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the bodies ability to neutralize them with antioxidants. This can make it work very hard and overtime, cause increased chronic inflammation.
Secondly, a healthy anti-inflammatory diet can promote a healthy guy microbiome, which is crucial in regulating the immune system. Lastly, a proper, anti-inflammatory diet can help keep you full, therefore lessening the intake of pro-inflammatory foods that can cause inflammation.
10 foods that help reduce chronic inflammation
A healthy diet consisting of many different superfoods foods can substantially help with inflammation. Incorporating foods below can offer a wide range of health benefits and decrease the risk for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Fatty fish. Fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and also help reduce the risk of chronic, life-long health issues. Fatty fish are generally cost-effective and easy to prepare.
- Berries. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are rich in anthocyanins, the pigment that makes up the red and purple colors of berries. These anthocyanins are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce inflammation. Berries can be added to almost anything or eaten raw. Berries also contain many minerals that have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Leafy greens. Spinach, kale, and collard greens are rich in vitamins such as vitamins, C, K, and A and especially rich in vitamin E, which is known to be a powerful antioxidant. Leafy greens can be added to smoothies or eaten on their own in hearty salads with nuts and seeds.
- Nuts and seeds. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and seeds, such as hemp and sunflower seeds, are rich in healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants. They can be easily added to smoothies or oatmeal and are known to help reduce inflammation. Nuts and seeds are also known to substantially reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease if consumed regularly.
- Turmeric. Spice that gives curry a yellow color and flavor. The active ingredient is curcumin. This is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound shown to reduce inflammation and also reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Ginger. Another spice that contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce chronic inflammation. This superfood can be added to many meals and tastes excellent in curry.
- Olive oil. Healthy fat containing oleic acid and other antioxidants. It also contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease. If using olive oils, 1 tablespoon can be added to a pan before frying meats or vegetables. It's important to note the use of all oils sparingly, as too much can increase the risk of heart disease.
- Tomatoes. Contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to reduce inflammation and help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Tomatoes can be ground to make pasta sauces or eaten on their own with a sprinkle of pepper and olive oil.
- Green tea. Contains compounds called catechins that have anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea is an excellent substitute for afternoon coffee and has even been shown to help increase productivity and brain function.
- Onion and garlic. Contain sulfur compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties and improve anti-oxidant defense, which can help reduce chronic inflammation. These foods can be added to almost any cooking and can add flavor to sauces and curries.
Dealing with chronic inflammation can be uncomfortable and discouraging. By incorporating a healthy diet, high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods, you can help improve the gut microbiome, reduce oxidative stress on the body, and reduce your risk of inflammation-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Novartis. Exposing the hidden enemy: The importance of managing chronic inflammation across different specialties.
- Nature Communications. Resolution of chronic inflammatory disease: universal and tissue-specific concepts.
- Trends in Food Science and Technology. Functional foods against metabolic syndrome (obesity, diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia) and cardiovasular disease.