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Preventing inflammation | How to change eating habits and improve life quality


Have you ever wondered why you feel dizzy, weak, and without energy daily, even after a long night's sleep? If you are now saying "YES!", this article is a place to start.


The answers to this question can be many, but most likely, your body is trying to issue a signal that something is wrong. That doesn't necessarily mean you will get sick or are sick; maybe the problem is that your inner balance has been disturbed. One of the most common reactions in your body that can disrupt your inner balance is inflammation. This reaction can be crucial for discovering other potentially more serious conditions. 


In this article, I will take you on a journey where you will discover inflammation symptoms and better understand what your body wants to tell you. You will learn to assess your situation better and help yourself. Taking action by changing your eating habits and choosing the right food ingredients might be easier than you think. You will notice the changes faster than you would expect.


Taking action by changing your eating habits and choosing the right food ingredients might be easier than you think. You will notice the changes faster than you would expect.
Balanced diet prevents inflammation.

So, what is inflammation?

Inflammation is a body's defense reaction to bacteria or viruses. It could also be a way the body repairs damaged cells


Take, for instance, a small injury on our skin. Our skin acts as a first line of defense for our body; if it gets damaged, there is a higher chance of getting infected. When that happens, our body begins to produce proteins called antigens. Our immune system becomes aware that something is wrong and starts to produce substances and white blood cells, which rush to the place and begin the healing process immediately. Our body reacts quickly and tries to prevent and remove infection from its system. The amount of white cells produced is proportional to the damage caused. This may be called acute inflammation


On the other hand, if your body's inner balance is disturbed and the body keeps fighting the infection for a long time, it may evolve into chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation patients often suffer from, e.g., arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or psoriasis. These conditions can seriously affect the quality of life and be difficult to treat. 


Science has the best knowledge of acute inflammations; most available medicines are developed to treat those. Hopefully, in the future, there will be more research in the field of chronic conditions, and more effective treatments will be developed.


Let's look closer at two questions that will help you better understand how to improve your quality of life and prevent inflammation by changing your eating habits.

Understanding inflammation's WHAT and HOW is the most important thing to maintain or obtain the body's inner balance and improve one's quality of life. Namely,


  1. How does inflammation affect our body?

  2. What causes inflammation in our body?


If you feel swollen, hot, or in pain, it could be a clear sign of inflammation. Also, if you feel discomfort daily, such as dizziness, weakness, lack of energy, exhaustion without a particular reason, bloating, or gasses, this could indicate that your body is suffering from an inner imbalance, which could develop into inflammation.


Overall, the most common sign of inflammation is pain. However, there are cases when inflammation in our body doesn't cause any symptoms and can remain undiscovered. This depends entirely on how many pain-sensitive nerves exist around the affected area. Chronic inflammation, in this way, can be even more dangerous because it can exist and affect us over a long period.

Inflammation can cause different conditions and affect all body parts. The most common examples are joint and muscle pain, skin rash, and asthma. Various triggers can cause those conditions. The most common one is an infection. Bacteria or other pathogens entering the body can cause such an infection. The most common source of chronic inflammation is that those infections are not discovered and treated.


Changing eating habits:


Another important factor that can cause inflammation is the food we eat. In this context, we can discuss inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods or diets.

No wonder the well-known saying states: "You are what you eat." But how can this relate to inflammation and improving the quality of your life by changing eating habits?


Like all great and complex machines that need good fuels and oils to work well and long, our body also requires fuel. We fuel our bodies with a variety of foods of plant and animal origin. As in the machine world, many fuel and oil types and qualities exist. Some are good and highly recommended and will make the machine work correctly for a long time. On the other hand, some are lower quality and will, in time, cause malfunctions and eventually damage the machine. Knowing this, we must choose the best fuel for our bodies. In other words, it is the healthiest foods we need to put in our system so our bodies can function well.


Billions of bacteria live in our gastrointestinal tract (gut), which is our system for balancing good and bad bacteria. The foods we eat directly affect our gut, health, and mood. Depending on the type and quality of food, our body is influenced to produce certain chemicals that carry particular messages to our brain and the rest of the body.


Our gut is our second brain because many receptors that regulate how we think, feel, and behave are located in the gastrointestinal tract. If we stimulate the gut by eating healthy, nourishing foods, the good bacteria will reproduce and send "good and happy vibes" to our brain and the rest of the body. Nonetheless, foods and drinks high in unhealthy fats, sugars, and countless additives to prolong the shelf life can disrupt the balance in the gut by creating an environment that influences harmful bacteria reproduction. In the long term, unhealthy eating and drinking habits can cause serious health problems such as sleeping disorders, tiredness, inflammation, obesity, and other illnesses, e.g., diabetes.


Here is a guide to preventing inflammation by changing your eating habits and, in that way, improving your quality of life. This guide will help you learn more about what foods you should avoid and what you must include in your diet. Firstly, let's learn more about inflammatory food groups that you definitely need to avoid.


Inflammatory food groups include many different types of food that are processed in various ways and usually have a great amount of additives.


Avoid processed meat:


Processed meat is charcuterie (hams, bacon, jerky, corned beef, sausages, salami, and other dried and smoked meat), hot dog sausages, and chicken nuggets, but also canned and premade meats.
Processed meat associates with risk of inflammation.

Processed meat, in general, charcuterie (hams, bacon, jerky, corned beef, sausages, salami, and other dried and smoked meat), hot dog sausages, and chicken nuggets, but also canned and premade meats are usually considered one of the worst products related to inflammation.


Why is it like this?

It's because processed meat contains high levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Those are harmful substances usually created in our blood system when protein and fat mix with sugar. Processed meat and many other processed food products are typically exposed to high temperatures in the production process. In this type of food, the AGEs are already created before you even eat it. So, you are taking into your system many premade AGEs that are not natural parts of your organism. When AGEs are produced naturally in our body, levels are so low that our system gets rid of them without you noticing them. In other words, when you eat large amounts of processed meat, AGEs accumulate in the tissue, and the body's struggle to get rid of them often manifests as inflammation.


Avoid trans fats:


Foods typically containing trans fats are fried, premade, or pre-cooked fast food products.
Doughnuts contain trans fats.

We can also mention so-called trans fats or trans-fatty acids. It is a type of unsaturated fat that occurs in foods. Trans fats can raise "bad" cholesterol and lower "good" cholesterol in your blood, thus increasing the risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. Traces of trans fats exist naturally in products of animal origin, raw meat, and milk products. Natural trans fats are not bad for your health if consumed conscientiously and in regular, predicted quantities. Still, large amounts of trans fats are found in many processed foods


Foods typically containing trans fats are fried, premade, or pre-cooked fast food products (fries, burgers, frozen pizzas, spring rolls, fried chicken products, doughnuts, churros, microwave popcorn, and snacks like chips and crackers). You can find trans fats in many other groups of premade foods, like in patisserie products and baked goods like pies, cookies, biscuits, cakes, waffles, breads, and buns, but also in chocolates, wafers, breakfast cereals, and some milk- and plant-based products such as margarine, shortening, ice cream, and nondairy coffee creamer. At room temperature, trans fats are usually in liquid form. Still, in processed foods, additives are sometimes mixed into trans fats to become solid and have a longer shelf life. According to studies, a diet containing trans fats results in higher inflammation levels in our bodies.


Avoid unhealthy cooking oils:


Cheaper cooking oils usually contain higher amounts of omega-6 fatty acids and low levels of omega-3.
Choose cooking oils with high anti/inflammatory properties.

Cooking oil is often essential when preparing meals, and it makes a big difference depending on which type of oil you choose. Cheaper cooking oils, which people commonly use, usually contain higher amounts of omega-6 fatty acids and low levels of omega-3. The amounts of those oil acids we consume should be balanced. If the amount of omega-6 acids we consume is disproportionately high, it can increase the chances of inflammation.


Another thing that can influence your cooking oil quality is the cooking temperature. If the oil overheats and starts smoking, the best is to remove it from the heat source and throw it away when it cools down. When overheated, the cooking oils change taste, break down, oxidize, and release free radicals that are bad for your health.


Also, the oil quality depends on the degree of its processing. Things in common for all highly refined oils are the lower price, less taste, less natural color, clarity, or transparency, longer shelf life, fewer healthy nutrients, less heat sensitivity, and more exposure to chemical contamination in production processes. Since highly refined oils are more affordable, fast food chains and many private consumers use them daily for frying and baking. Heating and especially repeated heating of plant oil should be avoided. However, choosing healthier, cold-pressed oils with better heat toleration can positively affect your body's health.


Avoid refined sugar:


Avoid using refined sugar, which stimulates our liver to produce free fatty acids.
Refined sugar is in the majority of processed foods.

Consuming a lot of refined sugar can also contribute to inflammation because it stimulates our liver to produce free fatty acids. These acids are created when body fat is burned. When those acids are broken down during the process, they excrete more harmful substances, which triggers inflammation.




It's good to know that there are also foods that actively alleviate inflammatory conditions. When we discuss which foods cause inflammation and which we should avoid, we should also mention those that can help prevent inflammation.


Anti-inflammatory food groups consist primarily of fruits and vegetables. 


Anti-inflammatory food groups consist primarily of fruits and vegetables. 
Anti-inflammatory food

An anti-inflammatory diet can be adjusted for people eating meat, vegetarians, or vegans. The main rule is to consume food rich in nutrition, which contains a decent amount of antioxidants and is as little processed as possible. In addition to that, this kind of diet includes a sufficient amount of fiber. Also, it has a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy oils. An anti-inflammatory diet doesn't need to be complicated or expensive. Fruits and vegetables play the leading role in a balanced diet; a good variation of these is usually key to success. 


Eat fresh fruits:


Berries are the richest fruits in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibers.
Berries

Fruits are known for their anti-inflammatory benefits. All fruits have nutrient properties that can protect and boost our health, but some have significant anti-inflammatory nutrition benefits.

Berries are the richest fruits in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibers. They reduce the risk of developing inflammation. Blueberries contain substances that help our body create immune cells that can attack infectious agents. Nutrition studies have shown that increased berry intake can lower risks of Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and heart disease.

Stone fruits like plums, cherries, medlars, loquats, avocados, peaches, and apricots contain precious fibers, vitamins, and potassium, which all positively affect your gastrointestinal tract and reduce inflammation. Fruits like apples and pears can also increase beneficial microbes in your gut, supporting anti-inflammatory effects when consumed regularly. Other anti-inflammatory fruits are pomegranates, pineapple, grapes, and citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, clementines, grapefruits, and pomelo.


Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are highly nutritious and have significant anti-inflammatory properties.
Walnuts

Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are highly nutritious and have significant anti-inflammatory properties. They are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, all contributing to their anti-inflammatory effects.

Almonds contain high levels of vitamin E and magnesium; walnuts are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA); pistachios have a rich combination of fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants. The antioxidants found in nuts help combat oxidative stress and reduce inflammation throughout the body, leading to a lower risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.


Eat fresh vegetables:


Vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients like flavonoids and carotenoids, which help combat inflammation.
Fresh raw vegetables.

Vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, and bell peppers are rich in nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties, making them excellent choices for gastrointestinal health. These vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients like flavonoids and carotenoids, which help combat inflammation.

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli contain sulforaphane, a compound known for its anti-inflammatory effects. Spinach and kale are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, along with antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation. Other vegetables in the same family are cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and many other green-leaf vegetables.

Alongside these, bell peppers are rich in vitamin C and capsaicin and, together with potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, and onions, contribute to reduced inflammation.

The fibers in vegetables play a crucial role by promoting regular bowel movements and supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that prevent inflammation. Consuming these vegetables regularly can help alleviate symptoms of digestive disorders, promote overall gut health, improve immune function, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.


Use fresh spices and herbs:


Spices like cardamom, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon are known for their rich nutrient profiles and potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Fresh spices in food and drinks.

Spices like cardamom, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon are known for their rich nutrient profiles and potent anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric contains curcumin, a bioactive compound that reduces oxidative stress in the gut. Ginger contains gingerol and other bioactive compounds with anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties, making it beneficial for soothing digestive discomfort. Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants and supports healthy digestion.


Herbs contain essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, contributing to their anti-inflammatory effects.
Fresh herbs are flavorful and healthy addition to dishes.

Herbs like basil, parsley, and cilantro are flavorful additions to dishes and rich sources of nutrients with notable anti-inflammatory properties. These herbs contain essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, contributing to their anti-inflammatory effects.

Basil contains essential oils like eugenol; parsley is abundant in antioxidants like flavonoids and vitamins A and C; cilantro contains unique compounds like linalool and geraniol. All combat oxidative stress and possess anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Incorporate these nutrient-dense herbs into warm meals, salads, dressings, dips, or smoothies for your healthy gastrointestinal tract and overall well-being.


Eat whole grains and seeds:


Eating non-processed whole grains is crucial for maintaining overall health, particularly gastrointestinal health.
Non-processed whole grains

Eating non-processed whole grains is crucial for maintaining overall health, particularly gastrointestinal health. Whole grains like oats, brown rice, quinoa, and barley contain essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients (phenolic acids and flavonoids), and fiber that promote and regulate bowel movements and the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which can prevent inflammation.

Oats are a great source of beta-glucan fiber; brown rice contains magnesium and selenium; quinoa is packed with protein and antioxidants, providing sustained energy; and barley is rich in beta-glucans and insoluble fiber, which promotes satiety and regulates blood sugar levels.

Other whole grains worth mentioning are amaranth, which has a high level of protein and no gluten; buckwheat, which improves circulation, prevents LDL cholesterol from blocking blood vessels, and is the only grain known for high levels of antioxidant rutin; and millet, which is high in protein and antioxidants, and helps control blood sugar and cholesterol.

Seeds such as chia and flaxseeds are excellent in preventing inflammation too.


Eat fresh fish:


Fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, is essential for optimal health due to their high nutrient content and powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Fish and seafood.

Consuming non-processed fresh fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, is essential for optimal health due to their high nutrient content and powerful anti-inflammatory properties.


These fish varieties are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), renowned for their anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in reducing inflammation throughout the body. Fatty fish is an excellent source of high-quality fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals such as vitamin D, selenium, and B vitamins. These nutrients support immune function, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract, bone health, and cognitive function.

Balancing the diet with good-quality fish is important to ensure the intake of essential nutrients and minimize the consumption of additives, preservatives, and unhealthy fats often found in processed fish products.


Eat lean meat:


Lean meat is a rich source of high-quality protein, vitamins (B vitamins), and minerals (iron and zinc), essential for muscle growth, tissue repair, immune function, and overall cellular health.
Lean cuts of meat are healthy.

Certain types of meat, such as poultry (e.g., chicken and turkey) and lean cuts of red meat, can benefit overall health due to their nutrient profiles. While red meat has been associated with inflammation due to its saturated fat content, choosing lean cuts and consuming it in moderation can still provide valuable nutrients without significantly increasing inflammation levels. Lean meat is a rich source of high-quality protein, vitamins (B vitamins), and minerals (iron and zinc), essential for muscle growth, tissue repair, immune function, and overall cellular health. When you balance your diet with good-quality fresh products, you minimize the intake of additives, preservatives, and unhealthy fats often found in processed meats.


Use healthy oils:


Healthy oils play a crucial role in reducing inflammation.
Healthy oils

Healthy oils play a crucial role in reducing inflammation. Oils, such as olive, avocado, and coconut, are known for their anti-inflammatory and health benefits, especially when consumed as cold-pressed or extra virgin oils.

Extra virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and antioxidants, particularly oleic acid and polyphenols; avocado oil contains monounsaturated fats and antioxidants like lutein and beta-sitosterol; coconut oil, although high in saturated fats, contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which have been linked to reduced inflammation and improved metabolic health. Other healthy oils that are good for cooking are sesame oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, algae oil, flaxseed oil, and rapeseed oil.

Use healthy sugar substitutes:

Healthy sugar substitutes offer sweetness and additional health benefits.
Healthy sugar substitutes.

Healthy sugar substitutes that offer sweetness and additional health benefits are the right choice for your balanced, inflammation-free diet.

Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant; monk fruit extract is derived from Siraitia grosvenorii and contains natural sugars called mogrosides that is full of antioxidants; maple syrup is extracted from the sap of maple trees and is rich in minerals like manganese and zinc; raw honey is a natural sweetener with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, and contains vitamins, minerals and many other health benefits; date paste is made from pureed dates, it is a natural sweetener high in fiber, and potassium, and an excellent alternative for baking and sweetening; agave nectar is derived from the agave plant, has a low glycemic index and it's often used as a vegan alternative to honey.


All these substitutes are natural products with few or zero calories, no rise in blood sugar levels, and many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Remember to consume them in moderation and alongside a balanced diet rich in whole foods for the best health benefits.


Eat high-quality food of animal origin:


Fermented milk products like yogurt and kefir contain probiotics, beneficial bacteria that support digestive health and may help reduce inflammation in the gut.
Fermented milk products.

Other foods of animal origin, such as some dairy products and eggs, are also nutrient-rich foods that offer various health benefits when consumed as part of a balanced diet.


Milk products are rich in calcium, provide high-quality protein essential for muscle repair and growth, and contain vitamins A, D, B12, and potassium, which support immune function, vision, and cardiovascular health. Fermented milk products like yogurt and kefir contain probiotics, beneficial bacteria that support digestive health and may help reduce inflammation in the gut. Some studies suggest that specific components in milk, such as bioactive peptides, may have anti-inflammatory effects and could help reduce inflammation in the body. Low-fat Greek yogurt has a thicker texture and higher protein content than regular yogurt, alongside good probiotics that support gut health.


Eggs contain antioxidants that support eye health and may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Eggs are source of high-quality protein.

Eggs are also an excellent source of high-quality protein, containing all essential amino acids necessary for muscle repair and growth. They are the source of vitamins B12, D and choline and minerals like selenium and zinc, which support brain function, immune health, and metabolism. Eggs contain lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that support eye health and may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Moderate egg consumption has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease in some studies, likely due to their nutrient profile and beneficial effects on cholesterol levels. Some research even suggests that certain nutrients in eggs, such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, may have anti-inflammatory effects and contribute to overall health. Consuming organic eggs from free-range hens or other poultry that have access to the outdoors and run freely most of their lifetime is the best option. Organic eggs come from poultry raised on organic feed without antibiotics or synthetic pesticides.


Individual dietary restrictions or preferences can limit the consumption of foods of animal origin. Still, for many people, they can be valuable sources of essential nutrients, especially if they come from reliable producers.


Now that you have learned more about changing eating habits and improving your quality of life by choosing a balanced, anti-inflammatory, and health-promoting diet, the next question arises. How do I prepare the food to preserve its nutrient values, quality, and health benefits?


Read more about this in the article that is coming soon.


Disclaimer:

Under no circumstances should any information on this site, regardless of its date, be relied upon as a replacement for personalized medical guidance from your doctor or another qualified healthcare professional.


 

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