When you hear the word inflammation you may think about the swelling that happens when you injure a body part - an ankle, for example.  The body’s reaction to that kind of injury is to swell up, which is called acute inflammation. But there’s another, less obvious and not-so-visible kind of inflammation – chronic inflammation. It occurs within the body, and has become more prevalent as more people experience symptoms. 

Acute and chronic inflammation occur because the immune system releases white blood cells in response to a perceived attack. When an injury happens, we can actually see our immune system in action. Chronic inflammation is harder to detect, but is important to notice because it can be linked to serious diseases. 

If the body feels like it’s under constant attack from things like air pollutants, stress, unhealthy foods or fatigue, it can lead to chronic inflammation. Research shows chronic inflammation can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and even cancer, among other illnesses. There are still many unknowns about its effects on our overall health, but we know for sure that healthy nutrition and movement habits that can reduce chronic inflammation.   

While it’s important to know how to fight chronic inflammation, it’s also helpful to be aware of food and lifestyle choices that can trigger it. Try to avoid or limit your consumption of refined carbs, fried foods, sugary drinks, red and processed meats, and unhealthy fats like margarine and lard. Passing on these foods can help stabilize blood sugar levels, and lower exposure to toxins.  

You can take steps to reduce chronic inflammation by getting plenty of high-quality sleep and moving your body every day. Eat foods known to have a high level of antioxidants, like berries, onions, green tea, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, turmeric, dry roasted nuts, and fatty fish (eg: salmon, tuna).  

An overall healthy diet complemented by an active lifestyle is the best defense against chronic inflammation and the diseases it can cause. If you’re really serious about a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, you may want to consider giving the Mediterranean diet a try.