If there's one health term that's equally captured our attention and confused us, it's inflammation. It's dominated health headlines of late and is said to be related to a ton of issues like gut health and sleep problems, but how do you actually know if you suffer from inflammation, and, more important, what can you do about it?
Inflammation occurs when your immune system gets disrupted by an irritant, like a food you're sensitive to or an environmental toxin, Well+Good explains. The body responds by "calling immune cells and fluid to the irritated area to help kill whatever’s there," which is a good thing—unless your diet is consistently out of whack and this momentary response becomes a long-term state. The symptoms are somewhat vague and include aches, fatigue, weight gain, and allergies.
If you're concerned you might be at risk, nutritionist Barbara Mendez says a simple shift in your diet might be all it takes to banish inflammation. Follow her simple shopping list to heal your gut and avoid inflammation.
Foods to Eat
Leafy greens should be at the top of your shopping list, says Mendez. "Greens are loaded with antioxidants, which rejuvenate weak cells, she says—sort of like how that mid-afternoon coffee can bring you back to life," explains Well+Good.
She would also add fermented foods like kimchi to your diet. "Ideally, you want a serving of fermented foods and walnuts every day."
Foods to Avoid
According to Mendez, not all vegetables fight inflammation. She cautions against eating too many tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes, which could cause gut issues. It's important to note that many nutrition experts wouldn't recommend avoiding fresh vegetables, so chat to your health care professional before making any drastic changes.
As far as the "bad boys" of inflammation, Mendez says processed and refined foods top the list: Think wheat, dairy, sugar, corn, soy, and peanuts. Be mindful of the meat you purchase, too. "Meat that is commercially raised with hormones, antibiotics, and fed with soy and corn, can contribute to inflammation," she says.
- Soy sauce
- Dairy milk
- Pasta containing wheat
- Non–grass fed meat
Everything You Need to Kick-Start a Healthy Eating Habit
Have you experienced inflammation? Tell us what diet changes helped ease your symptoms.