TeleWellnessMD Blog

Inflammation and diet: foods that heal and inflame

Posted by Molly Hunsinger on Mar 23, 2017 8:39:02 AM

 inflammation and diet

Your body works hard to fight inflammation and cell damage.  You can give your body an edge in this tug-of-war and fight inflammation through diet.  Check out our list of foods that heal and foods that inflame.  

Inflammation causes and effects

When it comes to staying healthy, your body is always in a tug-of-war with detriments like pollution, unhealthy foods, smoke, too much alcohol, stress, lack of sleep, excessive sunlight, and even the side effects of fighting infections and digesting high-fat meals.  Exposure to these things causes cell damage and inflammation (the body’s natural response to this damage, such as tissue swelling, redness, and triggering of the immune system).  

When inflammation persists, it can contribute to the development of illness and disease.  Skin problems, digestive issues, obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer's have all been linked to chronic inflammation.

Your body works hard to fight inflammation and cell damage.  You can give your body an edge in this tug-of-war and fight inflammation through diet.

“Chronic inflammation is a common contributor to obesity, illness and disease.  Many studies have shown foods to have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Brent Agin, M.D., founding physician at TeleWellnessMD.

When you eat the right foods, over time, you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. On the other hand, consistently making unhealthy food choices could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.  Here are our tips for foods to choose and avoid to reduce inflammation.

Foods that inflame

These inflaming foods are bad for your health and associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases and obesity. Remember to avoid the 3 Ps--processed, packaged and prepared.  Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible

  • Fast food--most contain harmful oils, sugar, artificial sweeteners and food additives
  • Hydrogenated and trans fats found in margarine, shortening and lard--including products made with these ingredients such as baked goods, cookies and pies
  • Red meats and processed meats (hot dogs, burgers, etc.)
  • Fried foods (French fries, onion rings, potato chips, etc.)
  • White sugar and sweets, including soft drinks and sweetened juices
  • Food additives (artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, etc.)
  • Hormones and antibiotics--many meats and dairy products contain harmful hormones and antibiotics
  • Gluten found in wheat and other grains and can be highly inflammatory.
  • Alcohol--best eliminated or used in moderation
  • Refined carbohydrates (white bread, pastries,etc.)

Foods that heal

Many foods have been found to reduce the risk of inflammation and chronic disease, particularly fruits and vegetables that are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols—protective compounds found in plants.  Include plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods in your diet:

  • Broccoli and beets are chock full of antioxidants and high in magnesium
  • Ginger helps boost the immune system and reduce inflammation
  • Coconut oil contains lipids that are full of strong anti-inflammatory compounds
  • Chia seeds contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to help reverse inflammation, lower blood pressure and regulate cholesterol
  • Green leafy vegetables are rich in antioxidants to restore cellular health (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, etc.)
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids and phytonutrients
  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines contain essential fatty acids which are some of the most potent anti-inflammatory substances, especially omega-3s
  • Fruits containing antioxidants and inflammation fighting flavonoids such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges

Anti-inflammatory eating for better health

To reduce levels of inflammation, adopting an overall healthy diet is the best approach. The Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils, is a great anti-inflammatory eating plan.

Eating a more natural, less processed diet will reduce inflammation and positively impact your physical and emotional health.

"Adopting healthier eating habits is beneficial not only for reducing inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases, but also for improving your sense of wellbeing and overall quality of life," Dr. Agin says.

TeleWellnessMD offers prescription wellness therapies to fight inflammation and improve overall health.  

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Topics: Nutrition, Healthy Tips

Molly Hunsinger

Written by Molly Hunsinger

Molly Hunsinger is a communications professional and certified group exercise instructor and fitness trainer. Her medical, health and fitness industry background spans nearly three decades. As a media professional, she has developed and launched award-winning allied marketing and advertising campaigns for high profile brands. Molly holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida with a concentration in journalism and digital media studies.

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