Managing Inflammation With Food
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation can be categorised into two types, namely acute inflammation and chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation occurs when the body senses harm to an infection and triggers a quick response to start the healing process. Pain, swelling, redness and heat occur as a quick response due to acute inflammation as a defence mechanism to protect our bodies from damage. Chronic inflammation occurs over a longer period of time and is known to be affected by dietary choices, environment, stress, health and wellbeing.
Since we understand that dietary choices have an effect on inflammation it is important to choose food that are anti-inflammatory to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Phytochemical’s are naturally occurring compounds found in plant-based food which provide anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants also found in plant-based food can protect our body from damage. Phytochemical’s can also fall into this group along with selenium and vitamins like A, C, E which can promote antioxidant properties to protect and support our bodies.
Food to include into your diet to manage inflammation
- Consuming a higher intake of vegetables and fruits
It is important to eat fruits and vegetables of different colours as the diversity in these foods offer a wide range of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Dark red and dark purple vegetables are also known to have a compound called anthocyanins which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic, onion and ginger are also shown to reduce inflammation, provide antimicrobial and antiviral properties as well as slow the development of any chronic diseases.
- Incorporating spices into your diet.
The traditional Sri Lankan diet includes a wide variety of herbs and spices to add flavor to foods. Herbs and spices like cloves, turmeric, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, thyme, rosemary, oregano have been shown to promote promising anti-inflammatory properties to support health and wellbeing.
- Choose a high fibre diet
High fibre food are found in rolled or steel cut oats, red rice, brown rice, kurakkan products, atta flour-based products, other wholegrain or whole meal products along with fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Consuming a high fibre diet has been shown to promote anti-inflammatory properties by supporting beneficial bacteria living in our gut for optimal health.
- Choose plant-based sources of protein
Legumes, beans and nuts which are high in fibre and anthocyanin compounds which have been shown to reduce inflammation in comparison to red meats and dairy products.
- Reducing ultra-processed food
Foods that contain added sugar, salt, fat, additives and other preservatives have a lower nutrient dense profile. Studies have shown that excessive consumption of these foods can promote inflammation and cause stress in our bodies. Therefore, it is important to maintain a balance and prioritise the less processed natural whole foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, legumes, beans, nuts and seeds instead of consuming a diet filled with ultra-processed food items.
Other factors to consider
- Include exercise as part of your lifestyle
- Try to find strategies to help you destress
- Aim to get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep
- Reduce the intake of alcohol