Inflammation

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Doctors are learning that foods can reduce inflammation. Your immune system attacks anything in your body that it recognizes as foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. The process is called inflammation. Intermittent bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders protect your health.

Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.

Foods that inflame

Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible:

  • refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • margarine, shortening, and lard

Foods that combat inflammation

Include plenty of these anti-inflammatory foods in your diet:

  • tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
  • nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
  • fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges

 

In addition to lowering inflammation, a more natural, less processed diet can have noticeable effects on your physical and emotional health.

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Keep a Well-Stocked Pantry

When your pantry is full of staples, you’ll find you won’t need to run to the store in the middle of cooking dinner to get a bottle of soy sauce. Plus it makes it easier to improvise a dinner on the fly when you don’t already have something planned. Ingredients like pasta, canned beans and canned fish can be the basis of spur-of-the-moment meals.

Eat What You Love

Eating well is not about deprivation—it’s about that good feeling you get when you eat something that is flavorful, wholesome and satisfying. No food should be off limits. Studies show that depriving yourself of the foods you love, especially in the name of dieting, may cause you to overeat later. Embrace a delicious and healthy way of eating that you can sustain for your whole life. When you bake, limit added sugars. (Added sugars of any kind—whether it’s corn syrup, white sugar, maple syrup or agave—all add calories and don’t offer any nutritional value.) Savor desserts so you really enjoy it without feeling guilty. Bottom line is that maintaining a healthy weight comes down to balancing the amount of calories you eat with the amount you expend during the day.
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