Closeup view from above of a woman eating brasil nuts with healthy food on the background

From Sharp Health News, a publication of Sharp HealthCare

Inflammation is an indication the body is reacting to some type of outside agent, whether it’s an infection, food or an injury. While it’s not often a welcome condition, inflammation also lets us know that our immune system is doing its job.

However, too much inflammation can actually cause problems in various organs. For example, excessive inflammation in the joints can lead to arthritis, and too much in the colon can lead to colitis. If an immune response is extremely abnormal, immune cells can attack the body by mistake.

Fortunately, there are natural anti-inflammatories we can consume. These include foods that can help lower the odds of having “bad” inflammation, especially for people who already have an inflammation-causing condition.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends following a diet plan that mirrors the Mediterranean diet, rich in whole foods and low in processed foods and saturated fats, to help decrease inflammation. The Mediterranean diet includes these staples:

  • Fish — at least 3 to 4 ounces, twice a week
  • Nuts and seeds — 1.5 ounces (about a handful) daily
  • Fruits and vegetables — 9 or more servings daily
  • Olive oil — 2 to 3 tablespoons daily
  • Beans — at least 1 cup, twice a week
  • Whole grains — 6 ounces daily

For some people who have inflammatory diseases, there are a few foods that are often considered healthy but can worsen inflammation, such as certain nuts, whole grains that contain gluten, and vegetables in the nightshade family — white potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers and tomatoes. Try eliminating these from your diet to see if inflammation decreases, and then slowly adding them back in to see how your body responds.

Additionally, several studies have shown that maintaining a healthy weight, regular stress reduction and meditation can decrease the body’s attack on the immune system. Consider what other lifestyle changes you might make to help reduce inflammation and feel better overall.

The VEBA Resource Center offers many Cooking & Nutrition Classes. Join us to learn how to blend the art of food and cooking with the science of medicine to optimize your overall health and wellness – all while having fun! Check out our calendar to sign up for an upcoming class.