Anti-inflammatory medication is now the first port of call to treat most inflammation of the body, but there are more natural ways in which you can prevent this undesirable condition. Exercise will help, but in this article, we will look at just the dietary changes you need to make to ensure that your body stays inflammation-free.
Inflammation is when a part of your body becomes reddened, swollen, hot or painful, often in response to an injury or infection.
Anti-inflammatory drugs are the most common way of fighting inflammation in your body, but there are more long-term, habit-driven ways in which you can do this. Inflammation is closely associated with heart disease, aging, cancer and other autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.
Reducing inflammation in your body can be as simple as eating right. Here are a few quick tips as to what to eat:
- Omega-3 fatty acids are good. EPA, one of the omega-3 fatty acids present in animal sources like fish or fish oil, is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. It bears mentioning here that plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids like flaxseed and walnuts do not contain EPA, and only a tiny percentage of what is consumed in that form is converted to EPA by our bodies. So go for fish or fish oil and you’re set.
- Omega-6 fatty acids are bad. Yes, we know, the name sounds almost the same, but the number is different. These are pro-inflammatory fatty acids, often found in corn, soybean and cottonseed oils. Another associated type of pro-inflammatory fats are trans fats, which are found in products with ‘partially hydrogenated oil’ in their ingredient list.
- Sugar and refined carbohydrates are bad. This is especially to be taken care of if you’re from a country that eats a lot of carbohydrates in rice or chapatti form. (Hint: India.) Sugar and refined carbohydrates contribute to elevated blood sugar and insulin levels, which are known to exacerbate inflammation. They also are notoriously difficult to shed once accumulated around the waist, and excess weight has also been associated with inflammation.
- Antioxidant-rich foods are good. It’s hard to overstate the advantages of antioxidants. Not only do these fight aging and keep you young and fresh for longer, they also neutralise free radicals, which are highly reactive compounds that can damage the cells of your body and contribute to chronic inflammation. Antioxidants include Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as the colourful pigments you see on fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin D is very good. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with many inflammatory and autoimmune diseases like Chron’s disease. Our body creates Vitamin D from sunlight, so the easiest way to get lots of Vitamin D is to simply go for a twenty-minute walk in direct sunlight every morning. If that is difficult for you to do, try adding fish and egg yolk to your diet, and foods like almond and coconut milk which are fortified with Vitamin D.