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Acute inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury, infection, illness or significant irritation. It allows your body to heal and subsides once healing is under way. When the acute response is not effective, however, inflammation can become chronic. This “systemic inflammation” (see Figure B in the link) can cause oxidative damage to our cells, which contributes to heart disease; diabetes; obesity; cancer; and autoimmune, neurodegenerative, and inflammatory bowel diseases.

There is growing evidence that certain lifestyle behaviors can guard against inflammation.

There is growing evidence that certain lifestyle behaviors can guard against inflammation, including the food choices we make every day. Research continues to emerge on how a plant-based diet that is rich in antioxidants and certain phytochemicals (such as carotenoids, phenolics, alkaloids with anti-inflammatory properties) can protect against heart disease.

Here are a few tips to promote an anti-inflammatory environment in your body, all of which are part of the nutrition guidelines for Ornish Lifestyle Medicine.  

1. Pack in the Produce

Choose a wide color spectrum of fruits and vegetables. They will provide an abundance of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory phytochemicals and nutrients. Strive for at least 5-7 servings a day, including leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts. Include vibrant orange and yellows along with deep, jewel-colored produce such as crimson beets that are phytochemical powerhouses.

2. Power Up on Plant Proteins

Choose plant proteins such as legumes and soy. They are abundant in antioxidants and phytochemicals such as isoflavones and genistein that have been found to protect against inflammatory damage. Some more inspiring recipes can be found in on the Ornish Kitchen Sample Menu.

3. Spice It Up

Spices such as turmeric, cayenne and ginger have gained significant attention in their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions.

What’s one change you can make to your diet to start reducing the inflammation in your body?

Eat well, be well!

Contributed by

Carra Richling
Registered Dietitian

Eat well, be well!

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