Inflammation seems to get the blame for most chronic diseases nowadays. Does it deserve this bad reputation? We take a look at what inflammation is and its possible causes, then dive into the issue of chronic inflammation from a nutritional perspective.
In this article, you’ll learn the foods that cause and reduce inflammation as well as inflammation’s relationship with intermittent fasting. So let’s start!
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural response of your body when it suffers an injury or faces harmful agents like viruses, bacteria or toxic substances. Your immune cells are activated and start to heal the damaged tissues or attack the harmful agents, depending on the situation. This kind of inflammation is called acute inflammation and is necessary to keep you healthy.
The kind of inflammation that is harmful to the body is chronic inflammation. If the body triggers the immune cells even when there’s no injury or harmful agent in your body, it actually attacks the healthy cells and creates a variety of diseases and health problems.
Inflammation-related health problems include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
- Heart diseases
- Type 2 diabetes
- Skin problems (e.g. psoriasis, eczema, rosacea)
What are the symptoms of chronic inflammation?
The symptoms of chronic inflammation show you there’s something wrong in your body and are a way that your body asks for help. The most common chronic inflammation symptoms are:
- Pain in the inflamed area of the body
- Gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, constipation, IBS – irritable bowel syndrome)
- Excessive weight gain or loss
- Persistent infections in the body
- Constant fatigue
- Depressive mood
What causes chronic inflammation?
Chronic inflammation may be due to several reasons, including:
- Autoimmune disorders or diseases such as lupus or Behçet’s disease where your body attacks the healthy tissues
- Untreated or persistent acute inflammation such as an injury or infection
- Exposure to irritants like heavy pollution, industrial toxins, etc.
- Being highly sensitive to irritants like pollen, temperature changes, etc.
In addition to these factors, chronic inflammation may be caused by unhealthy habits and conditions, such as:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Having a high body mass index (BMI), unless you have a lot of muscle mass
- Being constantly stressed
- Sleep problems
- Exercising too much or not at all
- Having a highly inflammatory diet
Foods that cause inflammation
As we mentioned above, having a highly inflammatory diet increases your risk of developing chronic inflammation.
So here’s a list of the foods that cause inflammation. You should strongly consider eliminating these from your diet.
- Red meat (to excess)
- Processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, sausages
- Gluten-containing foods like white bread, pasta, breakfast cereals
- Trans fatty foods like French fries and margarine
- Vegetable and seed oils like soybean oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, corn oil
- Foods containing high fructose corn syrup
- Sweetened snacks and sodas
Foods that reduce inflammation
The good news is that as well as the above list of highly inflammatory foods, there are lots of inflammation-reducing foods out there.
If you’re wondering what an anti-inflammatory diet would look like, check out our list and easily create your own anti-inflammatory diet.
Foods that fight inflammation include:
- Fruit: tomatoes, olives, oranges, cherries, grapes, avocados
- Berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
- Vegetables: broccoli, turmeric, ginger, garlic, onions
- Green leafy vegetables: spinach, kale, collards
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts
- Fatty fish: salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, herring
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate
Does intermittent fasting help with inflammation?
Intermittent fasting and inflammation are two inseparable concepts. According to recent scientific studies, we now know that restricting the eating window to a certain period of time during the day and avoiding eating food at night reduces inflammation levels by regulating the circadian rhythm.
The autophagy effect of intermittent fasting also plays an essential role in the body’s immune responses and in regulating inflammation (1)
Some research shows that intermittent fasting may also be beneficial for reversing chronic inflammatory conditions such as Alzheimer’s, IBS, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, etc. (2)
Intermittent fasting schedules like the 14:10, 16:8, or 20:4 (warrior diet) plans are the most popular. They are also practiced by many Hollywood celebrities to control their weight and to have glowing skin and higher energy levels.
To sum up
It’s an undeniable fact that chronic inflammation is strongly associated with your diet. The foods you eat either reduce or cause inflammation. So whether or not you have a chronic inflammation-related health problem, try to put anti-inflammatory foods on your plate, and if possible, combine that with an intermittent fasting plan that suits your needs. Fasting Kompanion will help you find the most suitable plan for your lifestyle.
And finally, bear in mind that the causes of chronic inflammation mentioned in this article may not apply for you. Some cases have no clear underlying cause, so it’s always best to check in with your doctor for specific diagnoses and treatment options.