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As time goes on, it’s becoming ever more clear that inflammation impacts people’s health. Increased inflammation is linked to a number of serious medical conditions, including Crohn’s disease, asthma, and lupus. Metabolic syndrome, which includes conditions like type 2 diabetes, is also linked to inflammation. In order to understand why inflammation can be detrimental, it’s important to understand how it works.

Inflammation is, in many cases, an immune response. In some ways, that’s a good thing. An inflammation response to an invading pathogen is a good thing that can help to protect the body and its health. However, the problem arises when the body is experiencing some level of inflammation all the time. For some people with autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s or lupus, it’s important to try and minimize inflammation.

Medical professionals today are starting to understand the impact of diet on the body’s inflammatory responses. Anti-inflammatory foods include most fruits and vegetables. These types of foods are typically rich in antioxidants. Blueberries, beets, kale, and spinach are examples of antioxidant-rich food. Other foods like nuts and seeds contain healthy fats that help reduce inflammation. Examples of good fats include oily fish like tuna. Healthy fats are also found in almonds, cashews, poppy seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Just as it’s important to include anti-inflammatory foods in the diet, it’s important to avoid inflammatory ones. Foods that cause inflammation include red meat, refined carbohydrates, lard, and margarine. Sometimes the way a food is prepared can determine how inflammatory it is. For example, frying potatoes to make french fries results in an inflammatory food. A baked potato is a better choice. An even better choice is a sweet potato, which is richer in vitamins and so-called good carbs.

A good guideline for an anti-inflammatory diet is to eat foods in as close to their natural state as possible. That means avoiding processed foods whenever possible. Eating steamed or raw vegetables is generally a better choice than fried or blended into smoothies. Another important thing to consider when it comes to diet and inflammation is beverages. Drinks like coffee and tea are rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. By contrast, juices and sodas are full of sugar, which can have an inflammatory effect on the body.