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What is Chronic Inflammation and How Can It Be Reduced Through Diet?

Inflammation is an immune system response to injury or foreign elements entering the body. When you cut your finger, bacteria can enter the wound, triggering white blood cells to come to the rescue and kill the bacteria. While the body is fighting the infection, the tissues swell because of increased blood flow to the area.

Similarly, when the body ingests chemicals that it deems dangerous to health, or it is unable to rid itself of toxins, white blood cells are sent to the area to protect your body from these invaders, and inflammation occurs.

Inflammation isn’t inherently dangerous, but the natural state of the body is interrupted when inflammation becomes chronic. The increased activity of the immune system can cause it to wear itself out, and this can actually decrease fluid flow to the cells, leading to disease.

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Think of your white blood cells like janitors who clean up an auditorium after a party. They move in, do their work, and then go home at the end of the day. Imagine what would happen if they stayed there for weeks or months! Eventually other problems would come from this — and the whole system would become a problem of its own. That’s what chronic inflammation does to a body.

Chronic inflammation is associated with autoimmune conditions and it is sometimes unclear which came first: the chronic disease or the inflammation. Certainly both are present in someone with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes or chronic fatigue syndrome. But what is the cause, and more importantly, what is the solution?

What Does Diet Have to do with Chronic Inflammation?

Food allergies are a known problem, but many people have food sensitivities that don’t cause obvious symptoms and yet contribute to long-term inflammation in the body.

For example, an allergy to wheat gluten (also called gluten intolerance) can cause the body to remain inflamed if the person continues to consume it.

Other common sensitivities include:
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • White sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Grains
  • Nuts
  • Shellfish
Some people even have a sensitivity to all meat, so they choose to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Beyond food sensitivities, there are foods that are so processed and denatured that they will cause inflammation in almost anyone. Fast food loaded with artificial fillers and chemicals is bound to alarm any normal immune system. So a diet full of junk food is bound to contribute to inflammation.

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The Anti-inflammatory Diet

Whether you eat a diet that is vegetarian, vegan, paleo, keto, or any other variation, there are some pretty obvious rules that apply to almost any diet of what not to eat.

It’s a no-brainer that fast-food, tons of sugary desserts and sodas will probably add to your problem if you’re struggling with chronic inflammation, or any disease for that matter.

But if you’re already eating a fairly healthy diet filled with fresh food and you’re still having issues, here are some foods to add to your meal plan that are known to reduce inflammation:

  • Fresh fruit, especially berries and cherries
  • Fish with Omega 3 fatty acids, like salmon, sardines and tuna
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale and cabbage
  • Turmeric
  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and yogurt
  • Garlic
  • Whole grains (unless you are grain-intolerant)

Adding in these wholesome foods to your diet can help reduce extra causes of chronic inflammation. Of course, getting a doctor or nutritionist’s advice on any new diet is essential, and your doctor can also do tests to find out the culprit of your chronic inflammation. Overall, diet can make a huge difference in the state of the body, and your quality of life.