You hear a lot about inflammation and its negative effects on the body; it is not all bad, though, and actually serves a useful purpose in the body. But, when it is chronic and excessive, it can wreak all sorts of havoc in the body ranging from the narrowing of blood vessels to triggering flare-ups of autoimmune conditions.
It results from a complex process and it is not something you can completely eliminate, but, there are things you can do to reduce it as best you can; diet heavily influences inflammation, and given the power you have in deciding what you put in your mouth, you have an opportunity to play a significant role in improving your health.
Choose Carbs Carefully
Over the years, carbohydrates have gotten a pretty bad rap, and while it may not be totally deserved, certain carbohydrate-rich items are problematic in numerous ways. When it comes to inflammation in the body, refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, and sugary treats are not your friend.
When you eat these foods, a host of chemical reactions involved in processing them triggers an inflammatory response; this means that if you are eating these foods on a regular basis, you are continuously triggering inflammation in your body. Cutting back on these items and replacing them with healthier carbs, such as whole grains, is important.
Eat the Right Fats
Fats also play a significant role in influencing inflammation, particularly omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The former can trigger the production of inflammation-causing chemicals while the latter encourages the production of ones that ease inflammation.
Omega-6 fatty acids are actually not all bad and your body does need them for various purposes; but when consumed in excess, as in the case of a typical Western diet rich in processed foods and cooking oils high in this type of fat, they can create a state of chronic inflammation in the body.
To reduce intake of omega-6 fats, reduce your use of sunflower, safflower, soybean, and corn oil; you also want to read food labels carefully as many packaged products are prepared with these oils. Use olive oil instead. To increase your omega-3 intake, eat more salmon and other fatty fish, flaxseed and hemp seed products, and look for foods that have been fortified with omega-3 fatty acids.
You also want to cut back on your intake of saturated fat from animal foods such as meat and dairy. Trans fats are also a big no-no; deemed the most dangerous fat of all, they offer absolutely no health benefit and your body has no need for them. Read food labels carefully as the FDA allows manufacturers to label a product free of trans fat if it contains less than .5 grams per serving. To get around this, they usually make a serving size ridiculously small.
Experiment with an Elimination Diet
When we think of food allergies and sensitivities, we tend to picture reactions such as swelling in the face or stomach upset, but they can affect our bodies on much deeper levels. Gluten, the protein in wheat and related products, for example, has been linked to worsening a variety of conditions in people with a demonstrated intolerance or sensitivity; inflammation is one of the most common reactions consuming these types of foods.
If you have a condition linked to high levels of inflammation in the body, it would be a good idea to experiment with eliminating common allergens to see if it makes any difference in your symptoms. Examples include wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, and shellfish.