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Food and Inflammation: How To Decrease Inflammation in Your Diet

May 4th, 2022 | 3 min. read

Food and Inflammation: How To Decrease Inflammation in Your Diet
Mike Eskridge

Mike Eskridge

PT, MSPT, Founding Partner

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The human body is the most well-adapted machine on the planet. Homo sapiens is the dominant species on earth for a reason - our combination of physical prowess and rational intellect enabled us to out-think and out-run any other animal that tried to compete with us. Most of us understand the basics to keep our machines running smoothly. But what happens when some of our gears get clogged? What is the main culprit and how can we fix it? 


Often, inflammation can slow our machines down. Prioritizing certain foods in your diet can be an easy way to control the inflammation in your body and help you perform at your best. We encourage our nutrition clients at EW Motion Therapy to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water to control inflammation. Our ultimate goal in this article is to educate you on how to keep inflammation at bay, even if you choose not to pursue nutrition services with us. 


This article discusses how food and inflammation are related, foods that decrease or increase inflammation, and other things that cause inflammation. With this information, you can pursue a balanced diet and keep your machine running smoothly.


How are food and inflammation related? 

By definition, inflammation is our body’s protective reaction to a substance it perceives as foreign. It's a similar bodily process to the allergy response many of us get in the spring with the reemergence of pollen. It can be a precursor to many health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes, which is why controlling inflammation is so crucial to your overall health. 


Certain foods tend to increase inflammation, because our body perceives them as foreign substances that do not belong there. These same foods are linked to the health conditions that increased inflammation can cause. Let’s go over those foods and discuss some healthier substitutes. 


What foods affect inflammation? 

Food can either increase or decrease inflammation in your body. Let’s look at each category and see how you can edit your next grocery list.


Foods that increase inflammation 

Any food that is overly processed will increase inflammation, because your body tends to perceive those foods as foreign substances. Fructose-type sugars can cause inflammation, like white sugar, as well as hydrogenated trans fats, because the added hydrogen acts as a preservative. Also, processed grains like white rice and white bread are usually not the best choice if you are trying to reduce inflammation,  opt for the brown rice and wheat bread options next time you go to the store.


Foods that decrease inflammation

Most foods that are naturally occurring can work to decrease inflammation in your body. Vegetables like green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts can help with inflammation, as can naturally occurring fats, like avocados, fish oil, and olive oil. You can also eat more fruit and varieties of tree nuts. All of these are high in antioxidants, which reduce the amount of free radicals (inflammatory molecules) in your body. Additionally, Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish and other products have been shown to reduce free radicals.  


If you struggle with inflammation and need to lower your cholesterol, the paleo diet can be one great option. It prioritizes lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, and it cuts out refined (overly processed) sugars.


What else affects inflammation? 

Now you know more about how food can affect inflammation in your body. There are other things that can cause inflammation besides food, namely weight gain, rheumatoid-type conditions, and overexertion without proper muscle recovery. If you can keep those conditions at bay and make good choices in terms of your diet, you will set yourself up for success and continue to improve performance without worrying about inflammation. 


If your body feels more sluggish than usual and you feel your machine slowing down, try examining your diet choices first before going to your doctor for a separate diagnosis. We tell our nutrition clients at EW Motion Therapy that a balanced diet is a sustainable diet, and we work with each client to build healthy habits over time. If you are curious about changing your diet, download our answers to 20 frequently-asked nutrition questions to learn more about different dietary choices.


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