Written on November 23, 2022 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Inflammation is your body responding to something that can be harmful to you [1,2]. Inflammation is your way of protecting yourself from injury or infection. However, inflammation can also damage the healthy parts of your body in the process.
During inflammation and the onset of initial injury or infection, your body will signal to specific cells in the blood and tissues, such as macrophages, lymphocytes, and neutrophils [3,4]. These cells will release molecules (cytokines, growth factors, enzymes) and launch an inflammatory response. The response will involve these various inflammatory compounds to try to eliminate the cause of the injury or infection. In the process, the inflammatory compounds can harm other parts of your body.
There are two main types of inflammation, acute and chronic [1,2]. Acute inflammation is temporary and short-term, while chronic inflammation may last for months and even years. Chronic inflammation has been associated with conditions like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease [1-4].
There are various causes of inflammation [1,2]. Common causes are :
Acute may persist into a chronic inflammation if :
Five significant symptoms are associated with acute inflammation :
Common signs and symptoms that may develop in chronic inflammation are :
Reducing inflammation is a good thing for your body . It can mean that the inflammation causes are eliminated, and your body can heal. It can also mean that in cases of chronic inflammation where the cause may not be eradicated, reducing the inflammation may assist with decreasing some of the symptoms and allow for a better quality of life.
There are treatment options available for inflammation . For acute inflammation, some wound care, ice, and rest might be all that is needed. Over-the-counter medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen), can be used in chronic inflammation. If needed, your healthcare provider can prescribe more specific medications to manage the chronic disease or steroid injections to help decrease the inflammation.
One way to treat and manage chronic inflammation is through dietary and lifestyle changes [4,6]. It’s best to avoid foods or things that can exacerbate or be pro-inflammatory. Some foods that can increase inflammation are foods high in trans fats, like fried foods, and baked and processed goods (french fries, chips, cake, cookies, and donuts). Foods containing saturated fats can increase inflammation and include red meats, such as beef and pork, and dairy products (cheese, milk, cream, and butter). Limit omega-6 fatty acids in corn, soybean, and sunflower oil since these can also increase inflammation.
Dietary intake of different food options containing various vitamins and nutrition can reduce inflammation and keep you healthy [4,6,7]. Some foods work by increasing antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds to protect your body against inflammation. Different types of food reduce the molecules involved in the inflammation process, and some foods have been associated with lowering the risk of chronic diseases.
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to contribute to helping prevent chronic diseases, specifically coronary heart disease and diabetes . The Mediterranean diet consists of monosaturated fats (olive oil) and higher intakes of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish. Below is a list of foods that reduce inflammation [4,6,7].
Here are some examples of foods that reduce inflammation:
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