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Inflammation is linked to many diseases and illnesses, and can be caused by many lifestyle factors. It is something we all have experienced at a point in our lives. Even though inflammation can be beneficial in certain circumstances, when it becomes long-term, it can contribute to health concerns, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and autoimmune diseases.

So what exactly is inflammation?

Inflammation is our body’s immune system responding to an injury, infection or invasion.

Short-term, acute inflammation is actually beneficial to our body. Our immune system releases inflammatory signals that tell our body to start healing, repairing and protecting us. Acute inflammation would be bronchitis, for example, or cutting your knee and experiencing swelling, redness and pain.

Long-term, chronic inflammation, however, is not beneficial, and it’s what we try to avoid. Our body thinks there is a constant threat, and that it is helping us by providing a low-grade inflammation for an extended period of time. This actually slowly wears away at the body, causing damage and contributing preventable illnesses.

So how do we reduce and prevention chronic inflammation?

With a few simple lifestyle modifications, including a healthy, whole foods diet, along with regular exercise, quality sleep and stress reduction.

Anti-inflammatory foods to include in your diet:

  • FATTY FISH – contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids to support inflammation reduction (salmon, sardines, tuna)
  • VEGETABLES – high in fibre and antioxidants, which helps to reduce inflammation. Focus on lots of dark green leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens), colourful vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, beets) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale)
  • FRUITS – those deep in colour contain protecting antioxidants to help fight inflammation (raspberries, cherries, blackberries)
  • WHOLE GRAINS – those that are high in fibre help reduce inflammation by supporting gut health, which is in charge of releasing inflammatory signals (oats, brown rice, quinoa)
  • HEALTHY FATS – help reduce and stop inflammation (nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado)
  • HERBS – help to reduce inflammation in the body (turmeric, ginger, cinnamon)

Inflammatory foods to avoid in your diet: 

  • SUGARS – causes the body to release inflammatory signals (candy, pop, juices)
  • PROCESSED FOODS – high in sugar and salt, low in nutrients and fibre (baked goods, ‘convenience meals’ and processed red meats)
  • REFINED GRAINS – breakdown quickly due to lack fibre and nutrients, (white breads, white pasta, white rice)
  • FRIED FOODS – cooked in inflammatory oils and contain high amounts of salt and trans fats (french fries, potato chips, doughnuts)
  • TRANS FATS – cause inflammation and raise cholesterol (margarine, fast foods, coffee creamers – look for the words ‘hydrogenated oils’ in the ingredient lists)

Try to include those foods suggested above in your diet as much as you can. Personally, I like to aim for a whole foods diet, with of course the occasional treats. Look to eat foods that we could find in nature, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts and seeds.

– Kate Allan, BHSci, R.H.N.

About Kate: 

Born and raised on the North Shore, Kate’s nutrition journey began many years ago when she went through her own health concerns, and she found she was able to heal her body through food. She understands the importance of finding the underlying cause of health concerns and using nutrition to support healing, rather than band-aiding the symptoms of illness.

After completing a Degree in Health Sciences, Minor in Kinesiology and Certificate in Applied Human Nutrition at Simon Fraser University, Kate became a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.)

Kate has appeared on CTV Morning Live Vancouver and CBC’s Our Vancouver, and the cooking stage at the BC Home & Garden show, where she demonstrated how cooking healthy foods can be simple and delicious. She is passionate about helping others live a healthy and well-balanced life, and she works with individuals to achieve their wellness goals. She believes that what we eat should fuel our bodies, provide energy and ultimately preventing illness and keeping us healthy as we age.

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