When people think of inflammation – they often think of pain, swelling, redness and heat. These are classic signs of inflammation that act as the body’s natural defense mechanism and are a “good” inflammatory process that protects your system.
Unfortunately, due to the standard Canadian/American diet, stress, smoking, lack of exercise and various environmental factors, inflammation can become chronic thereby triggering the immune system, which results in a myriad of symptoms such as aches, pains, fatigue, weight gain and more. In fact, research shows that chronic inflammation can be the precursor to several disease processes including cancer, insulin resistance and diabetes, arthritis, fatty liver, auto -immune conditions and Alzheimer’s disease.
In order to reduce inflammation, it is prudent to minimize pro inflammatory foods and introduce anti-inflammatory foods and supplements that can have a dramatic positive effect.
Pro- inflammatory foods (foods that can trigger inflammation) to reduce include:
- Trans fatty acids – Trans fats are a type of fat that are created when a hydrogen molecule is added to a liquid vegetable oil to make it more solid. Listed on your ingredient list as partially hydrogenated fat, examples of these foods include French fries, microwave popcorn, cookies, cakes, pastries and all foods that list hydrogenated vegetable oil. Trans fatty acids have been shown to elevate your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower your “good” cholesterol (HDL). The federal government has announced legislation to eliminate these industrially produced fats from all foods sold in Canada.
- An excess intake of refined vegetable oils – Examples include corn, soybean and canola oil. These types of oils are high in omega 6 fats. An excess of omega 6 fat fuel your body’s inflammatory pathways. As you will see in the list below –there are several other healthier oils you can substitute with.
- Sugar and high fructose corn syrup – found in candy, soft drinks, cakes, cookies, doughnuts and certain cereals.
- Refined floury products – breads, pastas, crackers made out of refined wheat.
- Processed meats – sausage, bacon, ham and beef jerky.
Foods that have an anti-inflammatory response in the body include:
- Salmon and other cold water fish such as sardines, herrings, anchovies
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Green leafy vegetables –broccoli, spinach, arugula
- Berries- strawberries, black berries, blueberries
- Dark chocolate and cocoa
- Green tea
- Turmeric (tea, capsules, powder)
- Cayenne pepper
- Almonds, walnuts
- Bone broth
- Fish oil (liquid or capsules)
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
In addition to the foods listed above, the following tips will also help to greatly reduce inflammation:
- Drink a minimum of 2 litres of water per day
- Exercise 4-5x per week –the body was definitely designed to move!
- Watch your stress levels. Stress can definitely promote an inflammatory reaction. Meditation, journaling, time with friends and time outdoors definitely helps.
- Eliminate possible food irritants such as gluten, dairy and/or nightshade vegetables.
- Support your gut. A healthy gut biome definitely helps to reduce inflammation. Consider supplementing with a pro-biotic daily.
- Aim for a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
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