Inflammation is the body's normal response to injury. But while it may be a natural defense system, the trouble with inflammation occurs when it becomes chronic. In fact, more and more evidence points to chronic inflammation as the root cause of many serious illnesses, including heart disease, some cancers and Alzheimer's disease.
Stress, lack of exercise, and exposure to toxins such as tobacco smoke can all contribute to such chronic inflammation, but what your diet plays a big role, too. Lauren Whitt, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Employee Wellness director advocates adding anti-inflammatory foods to your diet. "I encourage people to focus on eating whole foods and foods that are high in fiber," she says.
"Eating to minimize inflammation doesn't have to be an overwhelming task," adds Whitt. "Take baby steps by incorporating leafy greens into a salad at lunch, or add a piece of whole fruit to your breakfast." Here are the anti-inflammatory foods to try:
Citrus fruits -- Vitamin C and vitamin E are essential antioxidants
Dark, leafy greens -- High in vitamin K
Tomatoes -- The fruit's red pigment, lycopene, is a potent antioxidant
Wild-caught salmon -- Contains a rich concentration of omega-3 fatty acids
In addition, Whitt says to consume more foods straight from the farm, as well as fewer processed and fried foods.