Foods that help (and worsen) inflammation
Suffering from inflammation? The foods that make up your diet can either hurt or help inflammation flare-ups. “Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects," says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Below are some guidelines on what foods cause and prevent inflammation:
Foods that prevent inflammation:
Anti-inflammatory foods are pretty much the same as those typically recommended for a healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, cherries, prunes, spinach, kale, collards, broccoli and more.
However, some foods with fat, such as fatty fish (mackerel, tuna, and sardines) are also great for combating inflammation. Unfortunately, this does not include french fries, a known enemy to those suffering from inflammatory pain.
Cooking with olive oil is an easy way to implement decreasing inflammation into your eating routine. Stay away from margarine which is known to cause inflammation. Speaking of oils, making your own salad dressing using omega-3 filled oils or canola oil is a great way to avoid the inflammatory chemicals your body produces when too much store-bought salad dressing is ingested.
Foods that cause inflammation:
There are some types of foods you want to avoid or limit as much as you can to reduce inflammation. These foods are typically not otherwise nutritious, so the benefits of cutting them out expand beyond curbing inflammation.
Just say no to carbohydrates, including white bread, white rice, and bakery pastries. When it comes to beverages, alcohol, soda and other sugar-laden drinks can be huge inflammation triggers. However, be careful substituting these drinks for “diet” versions. Beverages with fake sugar alternatives cause inflammation as well, as some bodies react negatively to aspartame by attacking the chemical, creating an inflammatory response. Swap out whole and 2% milk with 1% or skim. Quench your thirst instead with green tea, a beverage filled with antioxidants that benefit your health.
Snack favorites high in sodium, such as chips and popcorn, are also known inflammation causers. These salt-filled snacks will surely lead to bloating and swelling. Looking for a filling snack? Try nuts like almonds and walnuts.
Stay away from hamburgers, steaks and other red meats as well as processed meat such as hot dogs and sausage. If you’re seeking a healthier grilled alternative, go for a grilled chicken sandwich or wild salmon.
Think of these suggestions to avoid inflammation as an overall guideline to better health through food choices!