What we put into our bodies nutritionally and how we treat our bodies physically can have a huge impact on our overall health, including inflammation. This article will identify five steps that you can start following now to help eliminate, prevent, and/or rude chronic inflammation. Nutrition and lifestyle changes will help you to feel better as well as lower your risk for chronic diseases.
Step One: Go Mediterranean
Unfortunately the typical diet of most Americans is a major culprit when it comes to the health conditions associated with chronic inflammation. A 2006 study published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that diets that are high in refined starches, added sugars, saturated fats, and Trans fats, as well as low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and Omega 3 fatty acids appear to trigger the inflammatory process. But on the other hand, a diet rich in whole unprocessed foods, healthy fats, lean protein sources, whole grains, and loads of fruits and vegetables, along with regular exercise seem to calm down the inflammation process.
Many experts recommend the Mediterranean diet as an anti-inflammatory way of eating. The Mediterranean diet isn’t really a “diet” in the sense that we are used to, meaning it isn’t a weight loss plan, but instead a healthy and lifelong change to eating and lifestyle. The diet revolves around how particularly healthy cuisine from all the food groups and a healthier lifestyle work cohesively to construct the diet and make it what it is.
Step Two: Be Choosey About Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates encompass starches, sugars and fiber. Whole grains are much healthier and offer much more in the way of nutritional value than refined grains do. Refined grains have been shown to possess pro-inflammatory markers, so the more we swap those refined grains for whole grains the better, Refined grains include a lot of foods we eat such as white breads, tortillas, pizza crust, white rice, pasta, cookies, cakes, donuts, and other deserts just to name a few. Swapping these foods for whole grains is a small change that can make a big difference in both managing your symptoms of chronic inflammation as well as helping to eliminate and prevent chronic inflammation.
Whole grains include whole wheat bread, brown rice, wild rice, popcorn, whole grain pasta, whole grain couscous, barley, oats, bulgur and corn. The current U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that all adults eat at least half their grains as whole grains. That adds up to three to five servings daily.
Step 3: Power Up on Plant Foods
The typical American diet is chock full of animal foods and much too low in plant foods. Plant-based foods have loads of benefits including a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and hypertension, as well as better blood sugar control and weight management. Plant foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber and other healthy substances that are associated with lower levels of pro-inflammatory markers.
Plant foods are the only foods where we get an abundance of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. There is hardly a lack of choice when it comes to these healthy, low fat foods.
Step 4: Shoot for a Healthy Weight
Obesity has now been added to the group of diseases that are known to present a low grade inflammatory response such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and other chronic conditions. What is of even more concern is visceral fat or fat that accumulates around the abdominal area. This type of fat in particular, is associated with low grade inflammation that contributes to metabolic disease, insulin resistance, and atherosclerosis or the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
The good news is that making these lifestyle changes, including weight loss, can reverse this. Losing just 10 percent of your body weight can reduce inflammation by reducing the pro-inflammatory chemicals in the blood. In turn, this positive change can begin to reverse health conditions from lowered blood pressure to lowering LDL Cholesterol. If you are overweight or obese, than the goal is too slowly and steadily lose weight in a healthy manner.
Step 5: Get Active
Exercise is a lifestyle habit that plays an extremely important role in managing and reaching a healthy weight and overall better health. Exercise doesn’t need to mean hours at the gym, it can mean anything that gets your body moving. Exercise boasts an endless list of health benefits, including improved insulin resistance, better blood sugar control, improved heart health, lowered LDL and increased HDL, improved sleep quality, better immune function, lowered blood pressure, protection against metabolic syndrome, weight loss, and decreased stress.
But one very important benefit is there is mounting evidence that regular exercise helps to reduce, and possibly eliminate inflammation. With all the benefits right in front of you, it’s pretty hard to say no to exercise. Exercising at about 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate, which for example would be briskly walking where you can still talk but can’t quite carry on a conversation, can help lower CRP, one of the key inflammation markers. The key is to start moving and stay moving!
Kimberly A Tessmer RDN, LD is a published author and consulting dietician from Brunswick, OH. Kim currently owns and operates Nutrition Focus, www.nutrifocus.net a consulting company specializing in writing, weight management, menu development and other nutritional services.
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