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Inflammation is an immune system response to harmful stimuli such as damaged cells, pathogens or other irritants. It plays the biggest role in how long people live and how well they retain their mental sharpness as they age. High levels of inflammation have been associated with a number of diseases that can shave years off of our lives. Chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease are all related to this.

A new study underway at the Institute of Aging at Newcastle University found that chronic inflammatory issues was named the most important changeable factor to living a longer and healthier life.

So what can we do to lower inflammatory factors to help prevent chronic disease and mental decline? The best way to lower inflammation is to eat a healthy diet — one high in foods that work to prevent chronic inflammation and low in foods that can promote it.

Here are some foods and nutrients that act as anti-inflammatories, as well as some that have inflammatory effects on the body.

Anti-inflammatory:

  • Omega 3 fats
  • Flaxseed
  • Canola oil. Hemp oil, Olive oil
  • Essential amino acids
  • Soy
  • Essential minerals such as magnesium
  • Essential vitamins such as vitamins C, D, E and B
    • Broccoli
    • Spinach
    • Tart cherries
    • Wild caught salmon
    • onions and garlic
    • Ginger and tumeric
Inflammatory:

  • High levels of omega 6 fats
  • Refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pastries
  • Trans fats
  • These are found in processed foods like cookies, chips, and fast foods.
    • red meat
    • french fries
    • margarine
    • soda
Aim for an overall healthy diet. If you’re looking for an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils.

In addition to lowering inflammation, a more natural, less processed diet can have noticeable effects on your physical and emotional health.