We can all see the signs of inflammation when we see the redness and swelling associated with a skin infection. But do you know that a similar type of inflammation can occur inside your body, where you don’t see it?
If you have arthritis—particularly the rheumatoid type—you have seen this sort of internal inflammation manifesting itself around your joints. But most internal inflammation is more silent and hidden, and it is thought that this sort of inflammation—when it occurs over a long term—can contribute to a person developing certain chronic diseases even more significant than arthritis, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and even depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Certain medications, such as the anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, can suppress this inflammation, but it is now known that certain foods can also suppress or turn off this inflammation as well. On the other hand, other foods will increase the level of inflammation.
Scientists can tell which foods worsen inflammation, and which calm inflammation, by measuring the levels of certain blood markers such as “cytokines”. Today we will mention foods that have been shown to suppress this potentially dangerous internal inflammation.
But first, here are some foods that worsen the problem, and increase your chance of developing chronic disease such as heart disease and cancer.
Foods that increase inflammation
Saturated fats, Trans fats, and omega-6 fatty acids: such as red meats, fast foods and fried foods, margarine, processed foods such as cold cuts and packaged snacks)
Sugar: such as found in sodas and packaged fruit juices
Refined carbohydrates: such as white bread, white rice, and white pasta (especially if over-cooked).
When you eat breads and pasta, go for the whole grain type, including brown rice and whole grain pastas (cooked less rather than more). Beans and lentils are also good since they are not refined. Other foods you should emphasize:
Dark green and highly colored vegetables (especially tomatoes) and fruits (especially fresh berries): aim for a variety of colors and types every day
Healthy oils: olive oil is the best when added to foods and canola is best for cooking
Tea: especially the ones with the highest concentration of anti-oxidants—white, green, or black varieties. The herbal types, while they might have health benefits, do NOT have the level of anti-oxidants found in white, green, or black teas.
Fish: especially fatty fish such as salmon and tuna. Be careful of many imported fish that may be contaminated with heavy metals and pollutants.
Nuts: All types are good, but almonds and walnuts may be especially anti-inflammatory
Spices: especially cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, curry, ginger, oregano, and rosemary. These add good flavor and health benefits to most any food, without adding calories. Also garlic is always a good touch.
Finally, note that anti-inflammatory foods do not act as quickly as an anti-inflammatory pill, but the anti- inflammatory effects of eating the inflammatory fighting foods, and minimizing the pro-inflammatory foods, will give your body the long-term benefits that you most need.
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