Inflammation is a reaction of tissue to irritation, injury, or infection. Symptoms of inflammation include pain, swelling, red coloration to the area, and sometimes loss of movement or function. We commonly think of inflammation as the painful component of arthritis. Can the foods you eat have an impact on inflammation? Some experts believe it’s possible.
Foods To Avoid
Loading up on junk foods, high-fat meats, sugar, and highly processed foods may increase the potential for inflammation in your body. Reduce your consumption of trans fats and saturated fats by cutting back on highly processed foods, red meats, and high-fat processed meats such as bacon and sausage. Cut back on refined white flours in bread and pasta (look for 100% whole-grains instead). Eliminate added sugars by decreasing your consumption of sugary sodas, pastries, candy, rich desserts, and pre-sweetened cereals.
Another possible source of irritation comes from the nightshade family of plants, which includes potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant. These vegetables contain a chemical alkaloid called solanine, which can trigger pain in some people. While there aren’t any formal research findings that back the claim about nightshade plants, some people do believe they get relief from the symptoms of pain and inflammation when they eliminate them.
Choosing Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Fats and Oils. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water oily fish, flax seeds, canola oil and pumpkin seeds. Consumption of monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocado and nuts has been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Other healthful oils include rice bran oil, grape seed oil, and walnut oil.
Fruits and Vegetables. Whole fruits, berries and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytohemicals. Choose green and brightly colored vegetables, and whole fruits. You should eat at least five (and preferably more) servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Protein Sources. Possible anti-inflammatory protein sources include lean poultry, fish and seafood (fatty fish offer protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids). Soy and soy foods such as tofu and tempeh, along with other legumes, can be used as plant-based protein sources.
Beverages. Your body needs water. Drink tap, sparkling or bottled water, 100% fruit juice, herbal tea, low-sodium vegetable juice and low- or non-fat milk.
Anti-inflammatory Diet Tips
When you are choosing anti-inflammatory foods, choose fresh foods instead of heavily processed foods. Here are some tips:
- For breakfast, try oatmeal served with fresh berries and walnuts.
- Snack on whole fruits, nuts, seeds, and fresh vegetables instead of cookies and candy.
- Eat more fish and less fatty red meat.
- Cook with olive oil and canola oil.
- Try a tofu stir-fry or scramble.
- Have a salad with lots of fresh vegetables as your meal.
- Stay away from deep-fried foods; bake, broil, poach or stir-fry instead.
- Choose dark green or brightly colored vegetables as side dishes — they should fill half your dinner plate.
- Drink water, non-fat milk, 100% fruit and vegetable juices, herbal and green tea instead of sugary sodas and soft drinks.