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Inflammation is a natural process that helps your body heal and defend itself from harm. Unfortunately, it can sometimes run wild and become chronic.
Chronic inflammation can last for a long time—weeks, months or years—and may lead to various health problems. On the bright side, there are many things you can do to reduce inflammation and improve your overall health.
This article outlines a detailed plan for an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is your body’s way to protect itself from infection, illness or injury.
As part of the inflammatory response, your body increases production of white blood cells, immune cells and substances called cytokines that help fight infection.
Classic signs of acute (short-term) inflammation include redness, pain, heat and swelling.
On the other hand, chronic (long-term) inflammation is often silent and occurs inside the body without any noticeable symptoms.
Bottom Line: Inflammation is a protective mechanism that allows your body to defend itself against infection, illness or injury. It can also occur on a chronic basis, which can lead to various diseases.
An Unhealthy Lifestyle Can Drive Inflammation
Certain lifestyle factors can promote inflammation, especially when they occur on a regular basis.
Bottom Line: Eating unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol or sugary beverages and getting little physical activity all drive inflammation.
How to Reduce Inflammation With Your Diet
Antioxidants work by reducing levels of free radicals. These reactive molecules are created as a natural part of your metabolism, but can lead to inflammation when they’re not held in check.
Vegetarian diets have also been shown to help reduce inflammation (35).
Bottom Line: Choose a balanced diet that cuts out processed products and boosts your intake of whole, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich foods.
Foods to Avoid
Some foods are notorious for promoting inflammation.
Consider minimizing or cutting these out completely:
- Refined carbs: White bread, white pasta, etc.
- Desserts: Cookies, candy, cake and ice cream
- Processed meat: Hot dogs, bologna, sausages, etc.
- Processed snack foods: Crackers, chips and pretzels
- Trans fats: Foods with “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients list
- Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption
Bottom Line: Avoid or minimize sugary foods and beverages, excessive alcohol and foods high in refined carbs and unhealthy fats.
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