What is inflammation?
Inflammation in the body occurs when white blood cells are produced to fight infection, illness or injury. Acute inflammation is helpful for healing; however, long-term, chronic inflammation is detrimental to overall health and is a leading cause of many health conditions, disorders and diseases.
Chronic inflammation worsens certain chronic pain conditions, including arthritis, asthma or diabetes. It can also impact the functioning of some major organs, such as the heart and brain. Anti-inflammatory diets have been suggested to reduce chronic inflammation by way of nutritional adjustments.
How it works
Anti-inflammatory diets will differ individually due to varying triggers. Therefore, there is no one specific anti-inflammatory diet that works for everyone. This diet is a style of eating that follows certain guidelines in order to reduce the risk of inflammation.
The first step in an anti-inflammatory diet is to reduce the amount of processed foods that are consumed. Most sweets, snack foods, processed meats, cheeses, sugary beverages, and fried foods fall under this category. Processed foods can trigger inflammation and should be eaten as seldom as possible.
While reducing the amount of processed foods, individuals wishing to reduce inflammation through their diet should focus on whole foods. A “whole food” is defined as food that consists of one single ingredient. Examples include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oats, fish, and chicken or turkey breast.
Diets plans that reduce inflammation
Certain dietary plans have been shown to reduce inflammation, including the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. The Mediterranean diet focuses on whole foods and omega-3 fatty acids, while eliminating processed foods. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is very similar to the Mediterranean diet; however, it includes more dairy and does not have a specific focus on fish or extra-virgin olive oil.
An elimination diet may be used to determine what foods are triggering inflammation. Elimination diets work by cutting out certain foods that may trigger symptoms and adding them back one at a time to track the accompanying symptoms.