It is fairly well known that inflammation is tied to many factors in our body's natural response to certain circumstances. It seems that most often, however, any and all inflammation is perceived as a negative or bad thing. It should be noted that some inflammatory response to situations in and around the body is normal. There will be some inflammation in the body when it is engaged in an immune response and trying to fight off infection or illness. Or there may be some inflammation due to natural hormonal shifts in the body. Where inflammation can become problematic is when it is chronic and excessive. Chronically elevated blood sugar or blood pressure keep the body in an over stimulated and stressed state. The same could be said for constant over exercising, muscle strain, or even chronic cases of the common cold or other viruses. These chronic inflammatory states are what can increase the risk of developing chronic diseases, and potentially even cancer.
While there is room for more research between nutrition and inflammation, there is some known information on how food can aid the body in reducing inflammation. What we do know is that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and other plant foods, monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids is one that can help combat chronic inflammation. A diet high in saturated fat and simple sugar can attribute to inflammation in the body.
Here are 3 ways you can use nutrition to help limit inflammation in your body:
1. Try to eat 2-4 servings of vegetables per day and try to get a variety of them as well! These can be fresh, frozen, or canned depending on which you most prefer, what is in season at the time, and what works best for your budget (if buying canned vegetables, be sure to also watch the sodium content and give the veggies a good rinse before cooking). Add a raw vegetable as a side to your lunch or add an extra vegetable like carrots or cucumber to top a salad. Save leftovers from the night before and have those vegetables at breakfast or lunch the next day. Our zucchini lasagna is a great way to get in a serving of vegetables at a meal!
2. Try incorporating more monounsaturated fats and reducing the use of saturated fats. Monounsaturated fats include avocado oil, canola oil, and olive oil. We regularly use olive oil to drizzle over any veggies before roasting them in the oven. This adds great flavor and also allows the veggies to get nice and crisp on the outside while still being soft and tender on the inside. Saturated fats like butter and coconut oil do not have to be eliminated but should be used more sparingly.
3. Add foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, nuts, and seeds, to your diet. You could incorporate fatty fish like salmon or tuna for lunch or supper 2-3 times/week. Nuts can be used to top cereal or yogurt, or they can be enjoyed as a mid afternoon snack. Seeds can easily be added to cereal, smoothies, or salads as well (ex. chia seeds, ground flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas).
Sleep quality and quantity, stress, exercise routines and frequency, and some other nutrition factors are also good things to consider when trying to reduce chronic, excess inflammation in the body. We will address some of these factors and our recommendations in an upcoming post.
If you have any questions or are interested in learning more, please reach out to us via our contact us section at the bottom of our website home page, or you can always shoot us an e-mail.