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Inflammation - The Short Version

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is too often misunderstood and ignored by people.  That’s because it isn’t one thing.  It sounds like it’s just associated with swelling and maybe some pain while in fact it comes in many styles and flavors… for instance, did you know that you can have inflammation in your blood? 

Let’s define inflammation as a process activated at any point in the immune system whenever your body recognizes something that is foreign or shouldn’t be there, such as harmful bacteria and disease.

Keep in mind that the occasional bout of inflammation focused on threatening invaders actually protects your health. Yet once inflammation becomes chronic it can lead to many problems ranging from cancer to leaky gut to acne to depression to heart disease, and more.  Something

triggers inflammation… and those triggers are everywhere from chemicals to pollutants to toxins in things we consume and apply to our skin.  You would probably be surprised at how many triggers there are in the foods we eat.

So what can you do about it?  Our position is that we think we can exert a lot of control over our inflammation.  We recommend a multi-pronged approach including exercise, mindfulness, relaxation and making some changes in your diet and lifestyle… all seeking various levels of  anti-inflammatory benefits.   

Anti-inflammatory Foods

Let’s start by dispelling the fear around the word diet.  After all, diet is just about putting the right foods in your body to ward off fat and disease in order to improve your health.  Anti-inflammatory foods have been proven to do just that.  They also help athletes recover faster, they boost gut health, they reduce pain, and they even protect your heart.

So how can you eat to reduce inflammation?  We can control and limit our inflammation.  We can use our own inflammation to keep ourselves healthy instead of making us sick, or at least symptomatic. Yet don’t start thinking about a magic pill or the medicine aisle at CVS because the best place to start is at the grocery store.  Many studies show that certain foods have anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce the risk of diseases and other chronic inflammation symptoms.

Fresh produce is high in antioxidants and vitamins and has been shown to reduce inflammation.  Same thing for healthy fats like nuts, and avocados, and olive oil.  There are also some foods that will surprise you, such as coffee which may protect against inflammation because it contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds.

There are some foods that can cause inflammation. The body has problems digesting highly processed foods, pesticides and some chemicals in foods, so it treats these ingredients as invaders which causes inflammation to rise.  Our bodies are constantly in fight mode because of the foods we eat.  Below is a quick starter list of foods that cause inflammation, and foods that are anti-inflammatory. 

Anti-Inflammatory Foods  - A Partial List

  • Fresh fruit like blueberries and pomegranates
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus like lemon, which are high in antioxidants
  • Fresh vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts
  • Leafy greens – you just can’t get enough salad
  • Plant proteins like quinoa, lentils and chickpeas
  • Wild salmon, albacore tuna and mackerel, because they have the right fats
  • Whole grains are good for inflammation, yet bad for weight control, so be careful
  • Nearly anything with omega-3 fatty acids like avocados, walnuts and olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds, especially almonds, ground flaxseed and walnuts
  • Anything high in antioxidants like dark chocolate, green tea, and red wine.  A side note that  quercetin is a potent flavonoid in red wine that has great anti-inflammation properties
  • Coffee – yes, yes, yes

Foods That Cause Inflammation - A Partial List

  • Foods that are high in sugar… you know what those are… just look at the carbs
  • Beverages that are high in sugar like soda pop
  • Red meats
  • Processed meats
  • Processed white pasta, bread and pastries
  • Limit your dairy
  • Avoid fried foods
  • Avoid processed oils like vegetable or canola oil
  • Try not to overdo the alcohol
  • MSG, and yes, MSG brings its own set of issues along with inflammation

Don’t Forget to Exercise

You already know that exercise is critical for your health.  Studies have shown that just 20 minutes of exercise daily can decrease your inflammation and protect you against chronic diseases.

Get serious and schedule regular workouts.  When you think you’re too tired or too busy to work out then find a way to go on a brisk walk during your lunch break. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

Yoga Can Help

Yoga is not difficult, unless you want it to be.  Like everything else, Yoga can be as easy or as difficult as you demand.  Give it a try.  Go through a morning yoga flow to reap the anti-inflammation benefits. If you don’t have access to a good Yoga studio, just buy a popular DVD and follow along… with the pause button handy, just in case. 


One of the most important tactics to inflammation reduction is mindfulness.  Some of us approach mindfulness via meditation, which has been proven to reduce inflammation.  There are several mind-body practices that can reduce psychological stress that leads to inflammation.  We even have apps for that… look into Calm.  You’ll find it has a lot of benefits.  Think stress reduction.  Think relaxation. 

Like we said, we follow a multi-pronged approach to anti-inflammation.  We try to follow an anti-inflammatory diet, or rather a lifestyle.  We focus on good nutrition.  We exercise.  We reduce our stress.  Then we let our systems do their jobs of keeping us healthy.


Compiled by the ITG Editorial Staff

Focus on Health 

Best Defense is Health
It is clearly undisputed that the best preventative medicine is good health. People challenged us to add more to our weight loss program. The more they were asking about was simply more health. Not only what to eat more of, but what to consume less of. More about what we can drink, plant, buy, eat, or study to be healthier. We all want more out of life and we've found excellent tips, tricks, advice and even recipes to improve our lives. Everything we've found that makes sense to us has been small in nature. After all, by definition, if you're looking here for ideas then you're well ahead of the game. Small victories!

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