Two Sides to Inflammation, the Good and the Bad

By Donna Stark

I was doing some yard work the other week and the tip of one of my cactus plants stabbed my finger. It didn’t take more than a few minutes after that for my finger to swell up, turn red, and become tender to the touch ... all of which are signs of inflammation. Inflammation can come in two different forms, acute and chronic. The type that made my finger react the way it did is called acute inflammation, and it is actually good for us because it’s the body’s healthy response to injury. It's a perfectly natural event for the healing process to occur.

On the other hand, chronic inflammation is not so good. Instead of helping your body heal, it's linked to serious health issues such as arthritis, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and cancer. You can’t live without inflammation, but as you can see, chronic inflammation can be hazardous to your health. So what can you do about it? How can you manage or reduce the amount of inflammation in your body?

Choosing a Diet That Helps

Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods to your diet may be incredibly beneficial to your body. It is known that specific foods influence the inflammatory process … some by creating hormones that reduce inflammation, and others that do the complete opposite and increase the inflammation in the body. Fortunately, there are some simple dietary changes that can help prevent the health issues linked to chronic inflammation and that will also boost overall wellness.

Food and Inflammation

Make some better decisions at the grocery store and choose more of these natural, anti-inflammatory foods to add to you and your family’s diet

  • Whole grains - These are packed with fiber which has been associated with fewer signs of inflammation
  • Berries and tart cherries - Most fruit, in general, is high in antioxidants, but berries are particularly full of anti-inflammatory properties
  • Olive oil - Olive oil naturally reduces the pain of chronic inflammatory diseases and is great for a heart-healthy diet
  • Fatty fish - Fish such as salmon and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have significant anti-inflammatory properties
  • Tomatoes - Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the lungs and other parts of the body
  • Leafy greens - Spinach, kale, and other dark leafy greens contain an abundance of healthy nutrients that help to reduce inflammation
  • Nuts - You can find omega-3s and antioxidants -- key ingredients in helping the body fight inflammation -- in many different types of nuts

For those at risk of health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, who are concerned about chronic inflammation, or who want to age as well as possible, a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods is the way to go. It’s never too early or late to start and it’s certainly a great beginning to a lifetime of good health.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Chino Hills, Calif.

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