Did you know that inflammation is generally a beneficial response of the human body, as it helps fight against foreign substances that might be harmful to us? However, inflammation can sometimes persist and transition into chronic inflammation which can cause harm to the body. Chronic inflammation is suggested to play a role in many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and depression. The foods that we eat are important for the inflammatory response, and can either contribute to inflammation or counteract it (1). Whether or not you have chronic inflammation, how you design your lifestyle has a major influence on ensuring your long-term wellbeing.
"As important as cutting out inflammation triggering foods is incorporating in beneficial, anti-inflammatory foods."
How do you know if you have chronic inflammation? Chronic inflammation can be silent and not show any obvious symptoms (1), but if you have chronic inflammation you might experience body pain, fatigue, mood disorders, GI complications, weight fluctuations, and/or frequent infections (2).
Certain chronic conditions are associated with chronic inflammation, and in this case, it may be beneficial to try an anti-inflammatory diet. Some common inflammatory conditions include irritable bowel disease, heart disease, obesity, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis (1).
Which foods are beneficial or triggering for inflammation? Each individual has a unique body and therefore different foods will be triggers for different people. This is why it is important to find what foods work for you personally and remember that health and well-being is not one size fits all. That being said, some foods that have inflammatory properties are sweets (particularly commercial packaged ones), fried foods, processed meats and cheeses, sugary beverages, and snack foods like chips (1).
As important as cutting out inflammation triggering foods is incorporating in beneficial, anti-inflammatory foods. One major food group to incorporate more into your diet are whole foods such as brown rice, chicken, eggs, fish, legumes, nuts and seeds and oats (1).
Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet may help decrease your risk for chronic inflammation or reduce inflammation levels (1). If you are interested in using lifestyle interventions to reduce your inflammation levels, it might make sense for you to measure you CRP, which is an indicator of inflammation.
1. Anti-Inflammatory Diet: What To Eat (and Avoid) [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. 2022 [cited 2022 Sep 30]. Available from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/anti-inflammatory-diet/
2. How Infections Spread | Infection Control | CDC [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 1]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/spread/index.html