What is Inflammation?
When talking about inflammation, it is important to differentiate between acute and chronic inflammation. Acute, or “in the moment” inflammation is a necessary and needed response to protect the body. For example, let’s say you cut your finger with a knife while cooking dinner – immediately, an inflammatory cascade occurs to allow blood vessels to dilate and immune cells to reach the site of the cut, fighting off foreign microbes and promoting healing. Once the damage is healed, the inflammation subsides.
However, chronic inflammation refers to low-grade, persistent inflammation. Research demonstrates that there are different immune cells involved in regulating this inflammatory pathway and can be attributed to many factors including chronic stress, inactivity, poor eating patterns, and even our environment! With chronic inflammation constantly in the background, cellular damage can occur, and research has now associated chronic inflammation with a variety of conditions including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and chronic-pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, digestive conditions such as IBD, Celiac Disease and IBS, as well as autoimmune diseases such as lupus.
Basic Principles of Anti-inflammatory Eating
Before I dive into some foundational principles of anti-inflammatory eating, I want to stress that this is a pattern of eating. Far too often I see articles on the internet about anti-inflammatory foods to eat exclusively and other foods to avoid at all costs. This all-or-nothing thinking about food will only serve to harm your relationship with food and body. At Health Stand, we talk about the sweet spot between healthful and soulful eating. A pattern of anti-inflammatory eating is the same – most of the time we focus on nutritious (and delicious!) foods, while also allowing space to enjoy our soulful foods without guilt or shame!