Throughout our lives, we have all experienced swelling and inflammation. Whether we have broken a bone, twisted an ankle, or cut a finger, the chances are that the injured area became swollen to some degree. This is a typical symptom to experience when an injury happens; however, it can become an issue when inflammation occurs without an apparent injury or cause.Oaks Senior Living, with communities located throughout Georgia, knows that chronic inflammation can lead to various health problems and pain and that your diet can impact the inflammation throughout your body. What we use to fuel our bodies directly affects how it functions. We have gathered both a list of foods to avoid and a list of foods that may help to reduce inflammation.
Inflammation - What is it?
Inflammation is the body’s natural process that “represents an essential survival mechanism that helps the body fight off hostile microbes and repair damaged tissue.” According to Healthline, “when something damages your cells, your body releases chemicals that trigger a response from your immune system.”
This response is completely natural and normal; however, it does become a problem when your body continues to fight when there is nothing to fight against besides itself. When your body continues to release these immune system triggering chemicals, it leads to chronic inflammation that leaves your body in a constant state of alert.
How Does it Affect the Body?
“Over time, chronic inflammation may have a negative impact on your tissues and organs.” Your body is in a constant state of fighting itself, meaning that it is killing off healthy cells and tissues. “This can lead to DNA damage, tissue death, and internal scarring.” It is important to attempt to reduce inflammation in order to protect the healthy cells and tissues in your body from further damage.
Diet and the Effects it Has on Overall Health
It should come as no surprise that, generally speaking, the foods that can cause inflammation are bad for your health, while the foods that help to reduce inflammation are beneficial to your overall health. How we feed and fuel our bodies affects how it functions and can either lead to or help prevent health ailments and diseases.
Harvard Health Publishing states, “choose the right anti-inflammatory foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.”
Chronic inflammation has been linked to “[playing] a central role in some of the most challenging diseases of our time, including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and even Alzheimer’s.” Focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet can reduce the risk of developing these diseases.
“Nutrition that supports a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods is the key to anti-inflammation and chronic pain management.” – William Welches, DO, PhD
Foods that Can Help Reduce Inflammation
An overall healthy diet is the best way to improve and maintain health and limit the development of diseases. More specifically to managing and reducing inflammation, foods that are high in antioxidants and polyphenols have shown to contain anti-inflammatory properties.
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Olive oil
- Leafy greens vegetables: kale, spinach, collards
- Fatty fish: salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel
- Nuts: almonds and walnuts
- Fruits: cherries, blueberries, strawberries, apples, and oranges
Foods to Avoid
While some foods are good for eliminating inflammation, others can cause inflammation and can wreak havoc your overall health. Cutting these foods out of your diet completely is not necessary, but you should limit your intake of them as much as possible.
Inflammation causing foods include:
- Processed foods and meat: sausages and hot dogs
- Red meat: burgers and steak
- Refined carbohydrates: white bread and pastries
- Fried foods such as French fries
- Sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda
- Margarine, shortening, and lard
At Oaks Senior Living, we value the importance of a healthy, nutritious diet, and we understand that a healthy lifestyle is heavily impacted by diet and eating habits. Our communities throughout Georgia offer a variety of options that cater to the specific dietary preferences and restrictions of the individuals we care for and encourage family members to play an active role in their loved one’s dining experience.
For more information on our dining services, read our blog post, “Exceptional Senior Dining Services at Oaks Senior Living.”