Inflammation is a big buzz word in both health and beauty. The catch-all term has many faces and causes, but it's likely you've come across this Bag Bad Wolf as being (at least partially) responsible for everything from arthritis symptoms to heart disease to skin wrinkles.
Inflammation is a reaction that happens to everyone, when your immune system protects you from infection or injury. Inflammation can happen anywhere in your body due to allergens, toxins, hidden viruses and bacteria—the list goes on.
When inflammation goes into overdrive, it results in tons of health issues, like allergies, asthma or those swollen tonsils you had last week. More seriously, inflammation in the arteries can lead to heart problems, and chronic inflammation elsewhere can be a sign of an underlying autoimmune disease.
MORE: Coping With Autoimmune Disease, Beautifully
One inflammation culprit is as simple as the food on your plate. Think: artery-clogging fats, blood sugar-spiking sweets and foods allergens. Gluten (grains like wheat) and casein (dairy products) are proteins that may add to inflammation that’s already festering. You can visit the doctor to see if you have a sensitivity or intolerance to either of these proteins.
Luckily, there’s a more lovely buzz phrase floating around: The anti-inflammatory diet. Rather than cut foods, you could add deliciousness to your diet that’ll counter inflammation. The anti-inflammatory diet is characterized by more vegetables and oily fish with omega-3s, and less refined carbs, saturated fats and trans fats. Instead of sweets, sprinkled throughout your meals are nuts, seeds, and spices like ginger.
MORE: How to Get More Omega-3s
There’s no one-size-fits-all anti-inflammatory diet—you have to be in tune with how foods make you feel, YouBeauty Integrative Health Expert Jim Nicolai, M.D. suggests. Once you do, you can use nutrition as part of your treatment strategy, he adds.
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