Inflammation is a natural process that helps your body heal and defend itself from harm, but it can be harmful if it becomes chronic. Chronic inflammation may last for weeks, months, or years — and can lead to a spate of health problems. Certain foods have an anti-inflammatory effect though, which is why we aim to include as many as possible in our ELEVATED recipes. Here, James explains more about inflammation and which foods can help you keep it to a minimum.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting itself from infection, illness, or injury. As part of the inflammatory response, your body increases its 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 often occurs inside your body without any noticeable symptoms. This type of inflammation can drive illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, and cancer. Chronic inflammation can also happen when people are obese or under stress.
In our diagram below, you can see some recommended anti-inflammatory foods in the form of a pyramid. A really easy way to improve your diet is by remembering the phrase ‘Cut the CRAP’, where
C = Carbonated drinks
R = Refined sugar
A = Additives
P = Processed food
Exercising more can also help reduce inflammation (although exercising too much can also have a negative effect too!).
Because of the effect stress can have on inflammation levels, it’s really important to make sure to relax as much as possible – try adopting a meditation process or take part in yoga or tai chi. Getting enough sleep is also super-important so the body gets the chance to repair itself. Meditating before bed or drinking Montmorency cherry juice may also help.
Potential causes of chronic inflammation
- Habitual lifestyle factors: Certain habitual lifestyle factors such as excessive intake of alcohol, smoking and eating too much processed meat.
- Refined sugars: Consumption of high amounts of refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup can lead to inflammation that causes insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity .
- Refined carbs: Consuming a lot of refined carbs, such as white bread, may also contribute to inflammation, insulin resistance, and obesity.
- Processed foods: Eating processed and packaged foods has been shown to promote inflammation and damage the endothelial cells that line your arteries. This is why we Elevate our recipes by cooking as much as we can from scratch.
- Vegetable oils: Vegetable oils used in many processed foods are another possible culprit. Regular consumption of vegetable oils may result in an imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which some scientists believe may promote inflammation.
- Low activity: Additionally, an inactive lifestyle that includes a lot of sitting is a major non-dietary factor that can promote inflammation.