9 Best Ingredients to Reduce Inflammation
It’s heating up out there! And if your diet is out of whack, it might be heating up inside you as well. Yes, all the bloating, discomfort, gas, nasea, fatigue and weight-gain can all be traced back to one common enemy. Inflammation.
What is Inflammation anyway?
When you think of inflammation, you probably think of a big red swollen bump; the result of a bee sting, or maybe an eye infection. You probably are cringing in fact, just thinking of it, because every human on earth understands the pain and discomfort of that puffy, irritated, infected situation.
But when it comes to inflammation inside our bodies, we feel less informed. Somehow the whole process becomes mystical and out of reach, because we can’t see it, so we don’t understand it. But really, internal inflammation is exactly like the external. Except it’s happening ALL THE TIME (especially if you’re not treating your body well).
Internal inflammation is exactly like external inflammation: When the body detects an intruder, it launches a biological response to try to remove it.
Now that makes perfect sense when we think of a spider bite, or an infected cut… but what about an infected gut? Every day you’re feeding your body little intruders… some make perfect house guests, while others throw a rager and start a fire.
You may be ignoring the signs and symptoms because we’ve grown used to feeling slightly crappy in our day to day lives. When we can’t see the infection we think…. outta sight outta mind, right? But internal inflammation is a serious problem with serious consequences.
Symptoms of Inflammation
There are two main types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Basically short-term, and long-term. Acute symptoms are signs to look out for after a meal to determine if you’re eating or drinking things that are making your body crazy. Chronic, is… well, chronic. These are signs that you’ve been living an inflamed lifestyle for a while, ignoring the signs, and you’re probably going to need to drastically change the way you eat to reverse it.
There are five key signs of acute inflammation:
- Pain: Yeah, no surprise here. Inflammation is painful. You may feel constant pain anywhere along your digestive tract, or you could feel it “off-and-on” as your body moves and the infected area is “touched”.
- Cramping: Your body is basically at war with the thing you ate and the infection it caused and in addition to antibodies and stomach acid, it usually calls for some muscle as back-up. These convulsions (as women are all too familiar) are incredibly painful.
- Diarrhea: No need to go into too much detail, right? You get this one. Your body is trying to get rid of the enemy as fast as possible. Good luck.
- Fever: Fever is just an external sign that your body is working overtime. Increased blood flow and circulation means the war is raging, but it also means other areas of your body are taking a backseat and you should probably rest.
- Fatigue: Speaking of rest. If your body is really inflamed, you may need to sleep whether you want to or not. Your body is working so hard to get rid of the toxic element that it doesn’t have enough energy for you to do just about anything else.
These are the basic signs of inflammation, but it’s important to know that our bodies get used to our crappy ways over time and nerve endings and warning signals can get burned out by sending you messages you keep ignoring. So, if you experience mild or “silent” symptoms, that doesn’t mean you have guts of steel. You might have guts that have given up. Which leads us to…
Chronic inflammation can continue for months or years. It either has or may have links to various diseases, such as:
- cardiovascular disease (CVD)
- arthritis and other joint diseases
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- rheumatoid arthritis
The choices you make at the grocery store can have an impact on the inflammation in your body. Scientists are still unraveling how food affects the body’s inflammatory processes, but they know a few things.
Research shows that what you eat can affect the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP)—a marker for inflammation—in your blood. That could be because some foods like processed sugars help release inflammatory messengers that can raise the risk of chronic inflammation. Other foods like fruits and veggies help your body fight against oxidative stress, which can trigger inflammation.
The good news: Foods that are anti-inflammatory tend to be the same foods that can help keep you healthy in other ways, too. So eating with inflammation in mind doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive.
Simple rules of thumb for anti-inflammatory eating:
- Eat more plants. Whole plant foods have the anti-inflammatory nutrients that your body needs. They’re naturally alkaline which helps calm your digestive tract.
- Focus on antioxidants. They help prevent, delay or repair some types of cell and tissue damage. They’re found in colorful fruits and veggies like berries, leafy greens, beets and avocados, as well as beans and lentils, whole grains, ginger, turmeric and green tea.
- Get your Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in regulating your body’s inflammatory process and could help regulate pain related to inflammation. Find these healthy fats in fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, as well as smaller amounts in walnuts, pecans, ground flaxseed and soy.
- Eat less red meat. Red meat has some amazing benefits when eaten a few times a month, and extremely high-quality cuts, however it’s also incredibly inflammatory. That doesn’t mean you have to cut it out forever, but treat it as a treat, not a staple.
- Cut the processed stuff. Sugary cereals and drinks, deep-fried food, and pastries are all extreme inflammatory offenders. Especially added sugar and alcohol. If you can’t eliminate, find ways to cut back or cut down and always drink plenty of water around these inflammatory choices to help your body work.
The Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Garlic and Ginger
When you start eating an anti-inflammatory diet and remove the inflammation-causing triggers from your life, your body is able to focus all that time and energy on actually taking care of you.
Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle
Digestion and Nutrition
When your gut is inflamed it is less able to absorb nutrients from the food you eat and get them to your cells. Reducing inflammation can help maximize nutrient absorption. Read more about how to take care of your gut in our blog.
Energy and Mood
Funny thing happens when your body isn’t constantly at war. Suddenly, you relax and have energy for the things that really matter. Case studies have shown that reducing inflammation causes energy levels to rise which boosts serotonin (the feel good chemical). An anti-inflammatory diet is also naturally also be high in fiber, which helps stabilize blood sugar, allowing for less mood swings and more constant energy.
Lowers Your Risk of Disease
What is disease? It’s quite literally dis-ease. When your body is not at ease, because it’s inflamed or at war, or fighting infection, or unstable… it causes a wide variety of diseases including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Aside from the initial benefits of just reducing inflammation, which allows your body to refocus on other areas, anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits and veggies are high in antioxidants, which can prevent DNA damage that leads to many chronic conditions.
Helps to Slow Aging
Ever wonder why those raw food vegans look 35 well into their 70’s?It’s probably to do with the fact that they eat a diet with zero inflammation! When you turn your body into a clean machine, it’s amazing the amount of restoration your cells can do when they aren’t being attacked!
Well, it’s no surprise that if you cut out sugar, alcohol, fried foods, and eat only clean foods you’re bound to lose weight, but studies have shown that inflammation actually causes the body to hold on to weight longer than a clean alkaline diet.
Anti-Inflammation at MacroPlate
At MacroPlate, we know that it’s our job to do the work so you can just sit back and enjoy. That’s why we’re a team of nutritionists and chefs who are constantly researching not only the newest data on nutrition and health, but the hottest recipes and boldest flavors to carry that nutrition to you in a way that’s fun, fresh, and never boring.
Here’s how we keep your diet Anti-Inflammatory and anti-boring:
- We always use farm-fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and complex carbohydrates from the best sources, honey and stevia instead of harmful sugars, lean meats and clean healthy fats.
- We bake low-calorie, low-sugar treats to satisfy your sweet tooth without causing inflammation.
- We make all of our own sauces, dips, marinades and dressings from scratch to ensure there’s no icky chemicals that we’re not comfortable with.
- We make sure that every meal is not just good for your body, but good for your soul. Because eating healthy is great for a diet, but eating well is good for life.