When something harmful or irritating affects our body, the body responds with inflammation. There are two types of inflammation—acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation is short-lived inflammation. An example of this would be when you cut a finger or stub a toe. You see and feel the signs of acute inflammation in your body, and tissues become red, swollen, and painful. It is part of the body’s natural healing response to injury or infection.
Chronic inflammation occurs over time. It is a low level of inflammation occurring inside the body and is not visible. Chronic inflammation has been linked to the development of serious chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and dementia. It can be caused by smoking, stress, excessive abdominal fat, and alcohol intake, as well as some foods.
To fight chronic inflammation, eat a variety of foods full of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds produced by plants to help protect our cells. Foods with these compounds include whole grains, beans, nuts, colorful fruits and vegetables, plant oils, and cold-water fish like albacore tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Tea, onions, and spices such as turmeric and ginger also have compounds with anti-inflammatory effects.
Anti-inflammatory foods are most effective when you are also at a healthy weight. If you are overweight, a 5–10 percent reduction in weight can also reduce inflammation.
On the other hand, some foods—including processed meats, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages—have been linked with increased inflammation. Saturated fat and trans fat are specific components of food that may trigger inflammation. The key to a healthy diet is variety and moderation with all food!
Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, July 2019, (www.eatright.org)