Inflammation is a natural defense mechanism that your body uses to heal and protect itself against infection, disease or injury.
Unfortunately, inflammation can become your enemy when it persists for weeks, months, or even years. In fact, many chronic diseases (the most significant cause of mortality worldwide) such as cancer, stroke, heart disease and diabetes have been associated with chronic inflammation! As such, it is essential for you to take the necessary steps to combat inflammation. Here’s how you go about doing it:
1. Say no to sugary drinks and refined carbs, Say yes to whole grains
Minimise your consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices. They’re loaded with sugar, which stimulates your body to produce inflammatory messengers known as cytokines. Also, limit your intake of refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and pastries as they are linked to an elevated risk of chronic inflammation.
Swap to whole grains (e.g. brown rice, oatmeal and whole-wheat bread). They are rich in fiber, which helps decrease inflammation.
2. Eat healthy fats
Majority of us today are consuming way too much omega-6 fats and way too little omega-3 fats (the average ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 consumed is 1:10 – 1:20). Since omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, excessive intake of omega-6s can adversely affect your fatty acid balance and promote inflammatory response in your body.
What should you do?
Trans-fats trigger inflammation. Based on studies, C-reactive protein (an inflammation biomarker) is found to be higher in individuals with greater intake of trans-fats. Avoid trans-fats by staying away from products with “partially hydrogenated oils" in their labels.Generally, fast foods, processed snack foods, margarine, crackers and cookies contain trans-fats.
3. Consume more colourful fruits and vitamin K-rich vegetables
Anthocyanins responsible for the colours of red and purple fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries and blackberries have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory effect. Additionally, studies have demonstrated that eating vegetables high in vitamin K (e.g. kale, spinach, broccoli and cabbage) can lower blood inflammatory markers. You may also add ginger and turmeric to your cooked vegetables as these spices possess anti-inflammatory properties.
4. Stay physically active
Researchers analysed the data of more than 4000 middle-aged men and women, collected over a 10-year follow-up period. They discovered that the inflammation markers in individuals who had moderate exercise for a minimum of 2.5 hours weekly were reduced by at least 12%.
5. Get sufficient rest
Did you know that losing just a few hours of sleep each night can result in tissue-damaging inflammation? Target to sleep for a minimum of 7 hours every night.
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