Fighting Inflammation With Food And Lifestyle
When you see the word “inflammation” as it relates to the body, you probably do not think about its positive side. The body has different ways of protecting itself and inflammation plays a role in the process.
Inflammation helps the body fight against an injury, virus, bacteria or any other foreign object. The pain, redness, heat, and swelling you feel—all symptoms of inflammation—are acting to heal the irritant invading your body.
But just as inflammation defends against invaders in your body, inflammation that continues over a long period of time can cause serious health problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis (inflamed joints), psoriasis (inflamed skin), and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Fortunately, if you suffer from inflammation, there are steps you can take to fight the condition. Besides following your doctor’s recommendations, you can also make dietary and lifestyle changes to reduce inflammation.
Omega-3 is Key
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that contain two proteins (C-reactive protein and interleukin-6) that help fight inflammation. Omega-3 also promotes cell growth, heart health, protects vital organs, and boosts body energy, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
While the body cannot produce Omega-3, the essential acid can be found in foods such as nuts, flaxseed and certain fish (salmon, tuna, and sardines, for instance). The AHA recommends eating two servings of fish each week, preferably fatty fish, and avoiding fish with high levels of mercury.
Omega-3 is also found in fruits that are high in antioxidants, such as blueberries, cherries, grapes, and strawberries. Leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli and kale, also have Omega-3.
A Little Fiber Goes a Long Way
A high-fiber diet promotes lower levels of inflammation, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Studies have found that good bacteria in the gut feeds off of fiber and fiber supports the digestive system and immune system. Fiber also helps in weight management and helps to lower the risk of colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Certain fruits that are high in antioxidants, such as blueberries, strawberries, antioxidants, also contain fiber. You can also find fiber in legumes and leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard.
Limit Foods That Cause Inflammation
Hamburgers and pork ribs are great at a picnic but a steady diet of red meats does not help in the fight against inflammation. Beef, pork, and lamb may be tasty but are not good for your health because of the unhealthy saturated fats they contain.
Besides red meat, dairy products like cheese and butter, fried foods and baked goods are also high in saturated fats. And, an excessive amount of saturated fat in your diet can place you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels.
Replace Saturated Fats with Healthy Fats
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends replacing foods high in saturated fats with foods that have healthy fats. For instance, the NIH suggests substituting:
- Red meats with skinless chicken or fish
- Butter and solid fats with canola oil or olive oil
- Whole-fat dairy products such as yogurt, milk, and cheese with non-fat products
While you may not want to totally give up foods with saturated fats, eating foods with low or no saturated fat on a regular basis will go a long in reducing inflammation and improving your health.
Physical Exercise Reduces Stress and Inflammation
Physical exercise has many benefits, including reducing chronic inflammation and helping to manage stress. Doctors have long said that exercise promotes overall health and a general sense of well-being. But recent studies have found that exercise can also trigger anti-inflammatory effects regardless of a person’s age and whether the person has a chronic disease.
A study by researchers at the University of California (UC) San Diego School of Medicine found that 20 minutes to 30 minutes of moderate exercise can stimulate the body’s immune cells to produce an anti-inflammatory response. The study was published in the March 2017 issue of the Brain, Behavior, and Immunity journal. While participants in the UC study used treadmills to exercise, fast walking, hiking, running, swimming, dancing and other types of aerobic exercise work just as well.
Older Adults Can Benefit From Lifestyle Changes
Findings from these recent studies are good news for seniors who have chronic diseases associated with inflammation, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. Planning and carrying out a lifestyle change may be difficult, especially for older adults in need of caregiving.
But physical limitations should not be a deterrent for seniors who want to fight inflammation. Older adults can receive assistance in their efforts from caregivers like those at FCP Live-In, an in-home caregiving agency.
FCP Live-In caregivers, for instance, help older adults with exercise as directed by their physician and cook nutritious meals. What’s more, caregivers also provide personal care, light housekeeping duties, and transportation to-and-from medical appointments, among other services.
By working with your doctor and making gradual changes in your lifestyle and the foods you eat, you can reduce the risk of chronic inflammation. It may not be easy at first, but it’s worth the fight.
To learn more about FCP Live-In and services provided by its in-home caregivers, contact the agency at 866-559-9492.