Most people are familiar with inflammation because they’ve experienced muscle soreness after a workout or redness and swelling from a bug bite or bee sting. That kind of inflammation is known as acute inflammation. It is the body’s way of protecting and healing the affected area.
Another kind of inflammation, called chronic inflammation, acts on our bodies slowly and happens over months and years. It has been found to contribute to many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and Alzheimer’s.
With chronic inflammation, the body’s immune system reacts similarly to how it would with a bee sting, but throughout the whole body, continually straining and damaging tissues and organs,” said Sridhar Vijayasekaran, MD, with Samaritan Cardiology. "With your immune system waging war in your body, the damage continues, and chronic diseases are likely to develop or worsen."
Inflammation plays a role in the aging process. Habits like smoking, lack of exercise and stress promote inflammation, cause damage to the body and accelerate the aging process.
Symptoms of chronic inflammation include mental fogginess or memory loss, joint pain, digestive upset, constipation and bloating, fatigue and lack of energy, headache, weight gain or inability to lose weight.
Reduce & Prevent Chronic Inflammation
The good news is there is a lot we can do to prevent or reduce chronic inflammation.
- Get enough good quality sleep.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in anti‑inflammatory foods, such as the Mediterranean diet.
- Avoid processed and refined foods, deep fried foods, trans fats, added sugars and alcohol.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Drink water to stay hydrated.
- Avoid environmental toxins.
- Limit and manage stress.
- Get regular dental cleanings.
Taking these steps to prevent chronic inflammation will help you avoid or manage chronic disease and maintain your best possible health.
Include Anti‑inflammatory Foods in Your Diet
- Leafy greens.
- Berries and cherries.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
- Whole grains.
- Raw, unsalted nuts.
- Tuna, mackerel and salmon.
- Green tea.
- Dark chocolate.
Limit or Avoid These Foods
- Candy, soda, pastries and cookies.
- Fried foods, such as French fries.
- White bread, pasta and pizza.
- White rice.
- Bacon, sausage and deli meat.
- Diet soda and sugar-free candy.