Inflammation is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can be a normal body response to injury or infection, and in fact a good thing. But on the other hand, it can cause unnecessary pain, discomfort and damage to the body if it persists. So how do we identify between good and bad inflammation?
There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic.
1. Acute inflammation is a quick response to sudden body damage like rolling your ankle, or breaking your arm. This short-term inflammation is good and we want it, as it’s a sign that your body is healing. Its main role is to protect and initiate repair.
2. Now chronic inflammation is the other type, and the kind we definitely don’t want. Chronic inflammation is a slower and less intense form of inflammation, and can be a result of an ongoing infection, poor-diet, stress, smoking, and even poor gut health. Like its name, chronic inflammation sticks around, and can put the body at risk for many diseases, disorders and other bodily dysfunctions.
Chronic inflammation is often characterised by:
Water retention and feeling ‘puffy’
Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and hives
Stubborn fat (aka fat you can’t seem to lose no matter how hard you try)
5 easy ways to help fight inflammation
Eat more fibre! Fibre is important because it feeds the good bacteria in your gut, which produces a substance called butyrate as a by-product of digestion. Butyrate is a very powerful anti-inflammatory compound, and we want lots of it! Good sources of fibre include: beans, legumes, oats, quinoa, avocado, seeds and artichokes.
2. Clean up your diet
Eat anti-inflammatory foods such as avocados, berries, spices, olive oil, leafy greens, lentils, cauliflower, cherries and turmeric. These foods help reduce inflammation in the body. In addition, it's best to avoid processed, refined and sugary foods because they feed your bad gut bacteria and cause inflammation. Some examples to avoid are: chips, donuts, cake, sugar-sweetened beverages, and fake butters.
3. Identify food sensitivities and allergies
Consistently eating foods that cause allergies or sensitivities can cause havoc in the body and cause inflammation. When you eat these foods, the body identifies them as ‘bad’ or ‘dangerous’ and alerts the brain to attack. This causes an immune response and results in a large amount of inflammation. Therefore, it’s important to take note and understand how your body responds to certain foods so you can identify allergies and food sensitivities, to keep inflammation at bay.
Polyphenols are magical little compounds. They are found in skins and peels of many fruits, veggies and even spices. Polyphenols are the bitter sensation you taste when eating foods. Other sources include: green tea, cacao, turmeric and red wine. Polyphenols work in a couple of different ways
They scavenge for inflammation and free radicals in the body – unstable atoms that can damage cells, cause illness and aging. Polyphenols neutralize these free radicals which reduces inflammation.
They also feed the good bacteria in your gut (butyrate producing bacteria) which helps reduce inflammation.
5. Reduce stress
Chronic stress is one of the worst things we can do to our body. It reduces the body’s ability to deal with inflammation and bring it back to baseline. It also reduces our capacity to fight infections and diseases, making the body more susceptible to getting sick.
Stress also contributes to the loosening of tight junctions in the gut wall. Tight junctions are like the security guards of the gut wall, they regulate the movement of particles. Therefore, if the tight junctions loosen, a person can develop what is known as leaky gut which causes food sensitivities, bloating, gas, inflammation and other digestive issues.
With a clean and diverse diet, you can greatly reduce the inflammation in your body. But don’t forget to stress less and identify foods that cause allergies and sensitivities!
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Written by Kimberly Estrada