When we experience physical discomfort or find our body is responding negatively, chronic inflammation is likely the cause. You see, inflammation is a very common health issue and it can affect almost every function of the human body.
Two Types of Inflammation
There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is short-time and our bodies can easily recover from it. A good example is a papercut. The finger will turn red, feel hot, swell up a bit, and cause pain. Shortly afterward, the finger will heal and everything will be okay.
Chronic inflammation, the more concerning type, can last years and often times, might even go unnoticed. Examples of chronic inflammatory diseases include arthritis, allergies, asthma, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, depression, and infertility. If we’re chronically inflamed, our immune system is weakened, making us more susceptible to any number of health conditions.
What we eat, how we eat and how we approach food can have a lasting effect on our health and our fertility.
Causes of Inflammation
The most common causes of chronic inflammation are stress and improper nutrition. Nowadays, when women are expected to do it all, it’s no wonder, self-care and nutrition fall by the wayside. Too often, we put everyone else around us first and unfortunately, our health pays the price. We begin to pour from an empty cup, so to speak.
As we focus on preparing our bodies to grow a tiny human, we need to nourish ourselves and manage our stress through proper diet, restful sleep, regular physical activity, and daily social and environmental supports. My belief is that food is the answer. Food brings us together. Even more, food is information. What we eat, how we eat and how we approach food can have a lasting effect on our health and our fertility. On a cellular level, biochemical reactions when we eat certain foods.
A Bit of Background
Most of us have heard the term “antioxidant”. We know we should load our plates with blueberries and leafy greens because they are full of antioxidants. We’ve been told to chug green tea and stay far away from microwaves. This is because foods high in antioxidants combat oxidative stress (bad stuff in the body) and reduce chronic inflammation.
Most of us have also been told to take a fish oil supplement because it’s “healthy.” While this is the case, there’s more to it. There are omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory and should be eaten in abundance, whereas omega 6’s are pro-inflammation. A healthy diet has a ratio of 1:1 omega 3’s to omega 6’s. Due to the advancements in food science and the overwhelming number of “Frankenfoods” (a.k.a. fake heavily processed foods) on the market, most Americans eat a ratio of 1:30 omega 3’s to omega 6’s. We are overdoing it with inflammatory causing foods without even knowing.
Which Foods Cause Inflammation?
Heavily processed foods such as vegetable oils elicit an inflammatory response. Other common sources include sugar, dairy, gluten, alcohol, egg yolks, corn, corn-fed beef, farmed-fish, lectins, and nightshade vegetables. When trying to conceive, these foods should be limited, if not avoided entirely.
5 Foods That Fight Inflammation
- Wild salmon or any wild caught, cold-water fish. Sardines, for example, but they can be polarizing with their strong flavor.If you don’t eat wild caught fish, you can take a high-quality fish oil supplement. High-Quality fish oil will not taste fishy. Try to get at least 4g of combined EPA + DHA daily in a soft gel or liquid.
- Extra virgin olive oil. Rich in oleic acid, EVOO works like Ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory powerhouse.
- Freshly ground flax seeds. Rich in ALA, the precursor for EPA and DHA, freshly ground flax seeds can easily be added to your favorite yogurt, smoothie or oatmeal. They’re loaded in fiber and other nutrients. Be sure to eat them ground, not whole.
- Rich in chlorophyll, vitamins, K, A, C, and folate, consuming spinach daily is essential to fight inflammation and strengthen fertility.
- Strawberries above all other berries, they’re richest in polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) and high in vitamin C, to keep your immune function strong.
A Balanced Plate
Don’t forget spices and supplements. Even a teaspoon of ginger in your morning smoothie or turmeric on your vegetables goes a long way.
A good way to tell if you’re loading up on enough of the right foods is to design your plate. An anti-inflammatory meal should always be comprised of 75% plants and 25% a mix of healthy fats and proteins.