An anti-inflammatory diet doesn’t have to be restrictive or complicated to follow. Once you understand the basic concepts, you’ll quickly and easily reap the benefits. And instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t eat, I show you what to eat. Take a minute to flip through these pages to see the satisfying array of easy-to-make, nutrient-dense foods you can enjoy in no time at all.
What Is Inflammation?
There are two types of inflammation: Acute inflammation is like a roaring wildfire. While it sounds scary, it cleanses the body of disease and acts as the first phase of healing—working primarily to rid the body of its assailant. On the other side of the spectrum, chronic inflammation is better compared to a never-ending, smoldering fire. If left unaddressed in the body, it will result in an ever-increasing number of immune cells fighting an endless battle, leading to serious disease. Think of acute inflammation as fast acting, high level, and healing, whereas chronic inflammation is lingering, low level, and self-perpetuating.
Our guts house about two-thirds of our bodies’ immune cells. These cells work minute by minute to protect us from any intruders we may ingest in the form of food, drink, and other substances such as medicine or supplements. If the gut begins to see too many repeat offenders such as highly reactive foods, allergens, environmental toxins, or medications, the inflammation begins to change from acute to chronic. Inflammation in the gut damages the flora, or good bacteria, that act as neighborhood watchdogs in our intestines. Once damaged, our intricate gut lining can begin to leak foreign matter into the bloodstream, which will be marked as dangerous by our immune systems, inciting even more inflammation. And the vicious cycle will continue.
This inflammation problem is so widespread that just about every disease can be linked to it in some way. Though it may sound overly dramatic, no one is spared when it comes to inflammation. Even if we control our diets to the best of our abilities, we still live in a world where environmental toxins, viruses, bacteria, and yeast run rampant. Some well-known ailments linked closely to chronic inflammation include Alzheimer’s disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, heart attacks, psoriasis, and strokes. In diseases like anemia, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory cytokines trigger an immune response that promotes systemic inflammation. This inflammation can lead to everything from heart disease to tissue destruction and cancer.
Even when your inflammation stems from the gut, you may experience symptoms in other parts of your body, such as overall fatigue, brain fog, sore joints, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and muscle pain. If you experience any or all of these symptoms, don’t lose heart. Making even small tweaks in your regular diet and including a few more anti-inflammatory foods will begin to alieviate your symptoms.