Why does your ankle become swollen if you twist it? It’s part of your body’s natural response to an injury. Your immune system sends out inflammatory cells to help heal tissue or fight infection. But if your body sends out these cells without a typical cause, you may have chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is a sustained inflammatory response that can chip away at your well-being and cause symptoms like abdominal or chest pain, fatigue, rashes, headaches and joint pain or stiffness. It plays a role in many diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Your doctor can help you manage chronic inflammation, but changing your diet may also help.
Adopting an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
While inflammation triggers can be different for everyone, scaling back on processed foods is a great place to start, according to CentraState internal medicine physician Saba Amir, MD.
“The more you can cut back on foods high in sugar and processed ingredients, the better,” says Dr. Amir. “Focusing more on whole foods or a Mediterranean-style diet can help you reduce inflammation, maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.”
Dr. Amir suggests trying these inflammation-fighting foods:
- Colorful fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help combat inflammation. Blueberries, leafy greens, broccoli and tomatoes are just a few examples of nature’s anti-inflammatory options.
- Omega-3 fatty acids have potent anti-inflammatory properties and are found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel as well as flaxseeds and chia seeds.
- Healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocados and nuts have been shown to reduce inflammation.
- Lean proteins such as poultry, fish, tofu and legumes (dried beans and peas) provide essential amino acids for tissue repair while limiting inflammation-causing saturated fats.
- Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice and oats are rich in fiber to improve gut health and calm inflammation.
“When you incorporate more of these foods into your daily life, you may see positive effects such as more energy, decreased pain and swelling, improved sleep and even clearer skin,” says Dr. Amir. “From better heart health to reducing the risk for chronic illness, an anti-inflammatory diet can boost your well-being.”
LIVE LIFE WELL
Looking for other ways to take control of your health and well-being? CentraState’s LIVE LIFE WELL℠ program can help with programs, education and support to live your best life no matter where you are on the health spectrum. Visit LIVE LIFE WELL to learn more.