Inflammation is the body’s normal reaction to injuries, illnesses or infections. Your body produces increased levels of white blood cells and other substances such as cytokines to help it fight and heal. This short-term inflammation results in symptoms like redness, pain and swelling which go away as healing occurs.
There’s another kind of inflammation though, that’s triggered by factors such as stress, lifestyle, diet and environmental exposures. The body experiences persistent, low-grade chronic inflammation which can lead to illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. In addition to reducing stress and exposure to harmful air and chemicals, you can eat foods that reduce inflammation and stay away from the ones that increase it.
Antioxidants play a major role in reducing inflammation. They help your body get rid of free radicals, which are waste substances produced by the cells as the body processes food and reacts to the environment. A diet high in antioxidants boosts your immune system and reduces inflammation. Some of your best choices are:
- Wild-caught fish like salmon and mackerel
- Flaxseed and Chia seeds
- Non-starchy, green leafy and cruciferous vegetables like spinach, broccoli and kale
- Green Tea
- Dark Chocolate
- Turmeric, Cinnamon and Ginger
- Bell Peppers
While upping your intake of antioxidant-rich foods, you should cut down or eliminate the following:
- Sugary drinks and fruit juices
- Refined carbs like white bread, white rice and white pasta
- Sugar-heavy desserts
- Processed meats, processed foods and processed oils
- Trans fats
- Excess alcohol
Make sure you also exercise, get plenty of sleep and practice meditation, mindfulness, yoga and spiritual strength building.