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Inflammation affects just about every aspect of your health and wellness. Today I want to discuss inflammation and heart health. Very simply, inflammation is your body’s natural response when attempting to protect itself from injury or disease.
When inflammation is acute, it can save you by protecting your body from infection. In the short-term, it rids your body of harmful intruders and restores you to health. It’s when inflammation stays with you on a slow burn that it becomes “chronic inflammation”. When this occurs, it puts your body at greater risk particularly when considering the functioning of your heart and arteries.
As an aside, medical professionals have recently discovered people who are on that constant slow burn of chronic inflammation have a much harder time dealing with Covid-19 when they get sick, so right now, it’s more important than ever to take a look at what level of inflammation you may have.
Inflammation Occurs Because…
When your immune system detects a foreign invader, it triggers the process of inflammation to protect you. When this is limited to the occasional times that the body requires it, a sprained ankle or a cold, inflammation can be life-saving. However, when the condition persists or is triggered by a non-threatening chemical intruder, it can become dangerous. In fact, many of the major diseases that plague humans (including heart disease) can be attributed to this detrimental, chronic inflammation.
Various over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin and ibuprofen can help to reduce the risk of heart attack. However, they put you at risk for other ills such as leaky gut, so including them is not an ideal scenario for your long-term health and wellness. There are answers to the challenge of inflammation and heart health. Some of the most powerful tools used to fight inflammation and strengthen your heart don’t come out of a pill bottle. Instead, they come from the grocery store and are found in your own refrigerator.
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
Foods that put you on that slow burn of inflammation are typically less desirable choices for your health in general. It’s important to note that while this is not just about weight gain or loss, adjusting your diet to be a lower inflammatory one is likely to help you drop a few pounds. The following foods are known to amp up your inflammation and should be limited or avoided. The short list includes refined carbohydrates (such as white flour and white rice), fried foods, sugary drinks, an excess of red meat, margarine, inflammatory oils like canola oil and processed foods.
Heart-Healthy Foods to Incorporate Into Your Diet
Fortunately for you, there are many foods that have anti-inflammatory properties. Including and increasing over time a significant amount of these foods can significantly lower your risk of developing heart disease. Protective compounds found in these foods, such as antioxidants, work to reduce the risk of chronic inflammation and the many chronic diseases associated with it (cancer, type diabetes 2, arthritis, dementia, depression, etc.). These foods include: leafy greens (such as spinach, kale, and collard greens), tomatoes, olive, avocado and coconut oils, fat-rich fish (sardines, salmon, and mackerel), nuts, and fruit.
Blueberries, apples, leafy greens, almonds, and walnuts in particular are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols, making them the ultimate inflammation-fighting foods! For those with a sweet tooth, eating chocolate also been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits. To get that chocolate benefit, you’ll want to develop a taste for chocolate that is 70% cocoa. Ditch the milk chocolate; too much sugar. Dark chocolate may be an acquired taste for you, and I know you can do this.
Choosing the right foods can make a big difference in addressing inflammation and heart health and in reducing your risk of chronic illness in general. Being consistent in making good, heart-healthy food choices is an important habit to practice in the fight against heart disease.
Helping You Achieve Major Wellness!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC