Diet as Defense

Inflammation can be a confusing and sometimes scary word. Put simply, inflammation is how our immune system responds to irritation. There are two types – acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is how our bodies react to a small injury, like a sprained ankle or a cut finger, and is a vital part of how our body heals itself.  Chronic inflammation on the other hand slowly breaks our bodies down, and has been linked to everything from digestive problems, to acne, to depression, to cancer. 

The most powerful tool we have to fight chronic inflammation is our diet. Knowing how certain foods contribute to inflammation is key, and can help us figure out what to eat more of and what to try to avoid. Processed foods high in sugar, saturated fat, and refined carbohydrates all add to the growth of inflammation, so it's best to limit the intake of alcohol, sodas, and prepackaged items like white breads and cookies. Whole foods like fresh vegetables, berries, nuts, and lean proteins have shown to reduce inflammation, loading up on foods in these categories is highly encouraged :) Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods also allows our bodies to heal faster, prevents against age-related diseases, and promotes overall wellness. 

Here are some anti-inflammatory all stars to try now!:

1.     Dark Leafy Greens – Vegetables like kale and spinach are an awesome source of vitamin E, which can help protect the body from pro-inflammatory molecules. Their high concentration of minerals like calcium and iron also help to increase your immune system’s defense.

2.     Nuts – Almonds and walnuts are also a great source of vitamin E. Plus they are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to calm inflammation.

3.     Spices – Ginger and turmeric have been used as a natural anti-inflammatory for centuries. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to relieve arthritis pain better than prescription medications. A favorite way to get a turmeric fix is by drinking it, but it comes in a supplement and powder form too.

4.     Tart cherries – Researchers have found that cherries have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food. Consuming tart cherries has shown to speed up recovery time and decrease pain.

5.     Olive oil – Olive oil has many benefits - it’s heart healthy, a “good fat,” and makes everything it touches more delicious. It also contains a compound that prevents the production of pro-inflammatory enzymes, the same way ibuprofen works.

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