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Diet and Inflammation

In part 1 of this series, I talked about the connection between inflammation and mental health disorders, and shared several studies specifically about depression.

Now let’s talk about where all this inflammation is coming from.

Many things can contribute to and worsen inflammation in the body. Chronic stress, poor diet, alcohol, environmental toxicity, lack of exercise, and poor sleep are well known causes of inflammation.

Let’s start with diet.

You’ve heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” You’ve probably heard it so many times that hearing it again makes you want to roll your eyes. You probably know it has some truth to it, but don’t really want to believe it. Chances are, it still doesn’t change the way you eat does it?

You already know what foods are “bad” for you. But you probably don’t think of those foods as being inflammatory. The truth is, the biggest reason “junk food” is so bad for us, is because of the inflammation that it causes in the body.

So what are these inflammatory foods?

  • Sugar

  • Fried foods

  • Trans fats

  • Processed foods

  • Dairy

  • Wheat/gluten

  • Artificial sweeteners

  • Alcohol

  • Refined Carbohydrates

  • Saturated Fats

  • Pesticide filled fruits and vegetables

Remember those inflammatory cytokines (messengers) that we talked about in part 1? Well these foods, especially sugar, trigger the release of those cytokines, resulting in an inflammatory response. To put it simply: eating inflammatory foods causes inflammation in the gut, which leads to inflammation in the brain. This brain inflammation could be contributing to a worsening of your mental health and wellbeing.

So what foods should you be eating?

  • Organic fruits and vegetables

  • Wild caught oily fish (not farmed)

  • Healthy fats: avocados, olive oil, coconut

  • Free-range or grass-fed animal products

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Beans, legumes

  • Fresh veggie juices, water, and herbal teas

Focus on organic non-processed foods.

Essentially focusing on an organic and whole foods diet, and avoiding those inflammatory foods we talked about above, will help decrease your inflammation from dietary sources.

I understand that diet changes can be hard and overwhelming for people, but if you focus on eating whole foods that don’t come pre-made, from a box, or from a fast food place, that’s a good place to start.

Stay tuned for more information about lifestyle and inflammation.


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