By Lauren Denos: 3/17/2015 (Nutrition)

Many people who are dealing with a plethora of ailments have more than likely had to deal with a certain amount of inflammation. For some people it is more of an issue than for others. The tricky thing with inflammation is that there are a variety of causes. When we look at how food can cause or help inflammation, what we see is that there are foods that are generally considered to be more common culprits than others. In all actuality, though, any food can cause inflammation. This is because all our bodies have different allergies and sensitivities.

Why We Get Inflammation

First of all, there are some misconceptions for many people when it comes to inflammation. Inflammation is actually a healthy response of the body. Inflammation is a protective reaction of the body’s immune system. It is our body’s way of getting rid of a harmful stimulus in our bodies. Inflammation is a good reaction from the body when we get sick or injure ourselves, but sometimes inflammation does not go away. Instead, it becomes self-perpetuating. This is when inflammation becomes a harmful process on your body. If you are having short term inflammation due to a cold or a broken arm, this is a good thing and does not need to be worried about. What most people are talking about when they complain about inflammation, is chronic inflammation. When you have chronic inflammation, it definitely should be looked into.

Why Food Affects Inflammation

If you are having chronic inflammation, your body is having a hard time eliminating something out of your system. Yes, sometimes it can be that you are eating something that is causing a reaction in your system. The food you are having issues with can be anything from caffeine, garlic, broccoli or oranges. Really, it just depends on your system.

What to Eat

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet is not a quick fix short term diet. Depending on the cause, many people dealing with chronic inflammation have to adopt a different way of eating for life and know how to keep things in check. When they really get things really under control, they may be able to eat some things that would not be optimal like a slice of cake, but they would not want to make this the norm since it can flair things back up. Here are some things to think about for creating a healthier way of eating.

Eat a variety of foods. Not just for the sake of getting a wide variety of nutrients in, but many times people who are dealing with inflammation due to foods get sensitive to anything they eat too much of. This also means eating a full spectrum of color when it comes to your fruits and vegetables.

Eat healthy protein sources. Fish is known as a great anti-inflammatory food – especially salmon! Chicken breast and lean beef can be a good choice, but make sure your body is digesting the red meat well. Some people with a stressed system have a digestive system that is not working up to par. If you are in an area that has elk, buffalo and other wild game that can be a very healthy option.

Minimize your processed and refined foods. Eat things in as much of a whole food state as possible. This means if you are going to eat grains, eat steel cut oatmeal instead of an oatmeal cookie. If you are going to eat fruit, eat a whole raw apple instead of a piece of pie. The further away from its natural state the more trouble many people have.

Make sure to balance your meals as much as possible. Meals should include healthy carbs, vegetables, proteins and healthy fats. Many times your carbs will be your vegetables such as zucchini. What works for you in each category of nutrients will vary. For Carbs, you may do great with whole grains and not potatoes or you may do great with beans and not with grains etc.

Nuts can be a great source of healthy fats. Yes they have protein too, but they have way more fat than protein. If you do not have a nut allergy, then you may want to add a couple ounces of nuts in your daily routine. Make sure you rotate the type of nuts you are eating each day and aim for raw nuts. They have more health benefits than their roasted and salted counter parts.

Keep a Journal!

One of the best things you can do is to keep a journal to keep track of what you are eating, when you are eating and how you feel. Some foods will give you a reaction right away, while others may take an hour or even a day. When you do not write this down, it can be difficult to remember how you reacted to something, especially since you may be having reactions to many foods. Think of yourself as your own investigator of yourself. You may want to go on an elimination diet and then reintroduce foods one at a time to see what foods are negatively effecting you.

Common reactive foods

  • Caffeine

  • Processed foods such as pasta, bread and cereals

  • Sugary foods

  • Alcohol

  • Nuts

  • Eggs

  • Dairy

  • Soy

  • Grains

  • MSG

  • Artificial sweeteners

Keep in mind that just because something is a common reactive food does not mean that it will affect you or that it is inherently unhealthy. Things like eggs and nuts are great nutritional foods, but it can be a common allergen or reactionary food, so it is good to pay attention to.

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