Is inflammation good or bad?
Well, inflammation is frequently spoken about as a health concern to be worried about. However, contrary to popular belief, inflammation is not always a bad thing.
Why? Well, it is a natural process, which allows the body to heal and defend itself from harm. It is only when inflammation becomes chronic that you should be concerned.
This blog will outline what inflammation actually is. We also elaborate on when it is good, when it is bad and what impact dietary habits can have on inflammation.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation occurs naturally as part of the body’s immune response to protect against infection, injury and disease.
The immune system activates white blood cells and releases various inflammatory mediators, which assist wounds to heal, and the body to fight infection.
In the health and wellness world, inflammation really does get a bad rap – because without it, people would simply not recover or return to good health.
What is Acute Inflammation?
What I have just described is the ‘good’ type of inflammation – acute inflammation.
This is the redness, heat, swelling and pain you may experience when an injury, infection or disease is present.
This inflammation generally acts quickly and doesn’t last for a long time period.
What is Chronic inflammation?
On the other end of the spectrum, individuals may experience chronic inflammation, and this is the type we want to avoid.
This inflammation lasts for a long period of time and can result in detrimental health effects.
Causes of Inflammation in the Body
There are a few causes of chronic inflammation, which include:
- Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Other pathogens
- A lack of sleep
- Obesity, especially central adiposity
- A poor western diet, high in processed foods, sugars and low in plant foods
Diet and Inflammation
There is much hype around certain ‘anti-inflammatory’ foods, such as turmeric, ginger, tea, blueberries, olive oil, and some vegetables, and although these foods may assist in reducing inflammation to an extent, science is yet to prove that any one food can be classified as ‘inflammatory’ or ‘anti-inflammatory’.
Rather, the evidence points towards more overall dietary patterns and lifestyle habits to play a role in treating inflammation.
Reduce Inflammation: Top Recommendations
To help reduce inflammation, it is recommended to consume a diet high in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, legumes and whole grains – essentially the Mediterranean diet!
So, if you are concerned about chronic inflammation, reduce your intake of processed food, refined carbohydrates, sugar sweetened beverages, processed meats and saturated/trans fats.
In addition, the following have all also been shown to contribute to lower inflammation levels:
- Regular exercise,
- Losing weight (if needed),and
- Quitting smoking (if you are a smoker),
Is Inflammation Good or Bad?
In conclusion, inflammation can be both good and bad, but you if you are worried, you can focus on consuming a varied, nutritious diet containing all five-food groups, exercise regularly and ensure you are at a healthy weight.
Would you like to discuss your inflammatory concerns with our qualified dietitian?
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