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February 2024

Eating to Help Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s normal response to promote healing and is typically associated with swelling, redness, and pain. It can be a sign of fighting infection or healing from an injury. This is often referred to as “acute inflammation” and is usually of short duration. Inflammation may also be chronic, which is not associated with pain. However, it can contribute to several health issues, including cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart and bowel disease. Studies show food may play a role in inflammation.

Foods that May Help Reduce Inflammation
Although no single diet or food can relieve inflammation completely, there are some foods that may reduce it. These foods are rich in antioxidants and part of a healthy eating pattern.

  • Omega-3 Fats - These fats are converted into substances that may decrease inflammation. Foods rich in omega-3s include salmon, sardines, halibut, herring, mackerel and flax seed meal.
  • Antioxidant-Rich - These foods quiet the immune system. Colorful fruits & vegetables, onions, garlic and olive oil are excellent sources.
  • Healthy Carbs - These are minimally processed and fiber rich. Vegetables, legumes, fresh whole fruit and whole grains are healthy carbs.
  • Herbs & Spices - These play a role in reducing inflammation and are antioxidant rich: rosemary, sage, thyme, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg.
  • Adequate Vitamin D - Inflammation is associated with low levels of vitamin D. Get your D-level checked and ask your physician if you need to take a supplement. There are few good food sources other than salmon, tuna, sardines and vitamin D-fortified products.

Putting it on your Plate
Build your meals and snacks around lean meats, fish, vegetables, fresh fruit, low-fat dairy and whole grains.

  • Eat a variety of seafood at least twice a week.
  • Make half your plate at lunch and dinner colorful vegetables.
  • Choose healthy fats such as avocado and olive oil, in moderation.
  • Include whole grains– oatmeal for breakfast, brown rice, quinoa or bulgur with other meals.
  • Consider adding low-sodium beans or lentils to soups & salads.
  • Try plain Greek yogurt and add fresh berries for breakfast, a snack, or dessert. Use herbs & spices to season meals instead of salt.

Minimize Foods that Fuel Inflammation

  • Highly Processed & Fast Foods - includes packaged foods that have a lot of ingredients and additives. Check nutrition facts & ingredients on food labels.
  • Processed Meats - bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats (salami and pepperoni)
  • Sugar & Refined Grains - desserts, sweetened beverages, and white bread
  • Partially Hydrogenated & Trans Fats - often found in snack foods
  • Fried Foods - donuts, French fries, chips

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