The word inflammation is tossed around frequently these days. If you follow health blogs, watch popular health TV shows, or listen to health podcasts or radio shows in your car, you’ve probably read, watched, or heard plenty of stories on how a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, nuts, and plant oils) can help stave off the negative effects of inflammation.
(For the uninitiated, inflammation refers to the body’s natural process of bringing extra fluid and heat to damaged areas, which can sometimes go into overdrive and cause additional problems. For a better explanation, watch this interesting video below.)
But what can inflammation actually do to your body? It turns out that even the most health-conscious of us don’t have a firm handle on why we should be trying to avoid inflammation (other than the fact that it sounds bad). Here are nine harmful potential results of inflammation for some incentive to control your health, giving you plenty of reason to load up your diet with avocadoes, salmon, and other sources of Omega-3s.
Most forms of arthritis are, by definition, chronic inflammation of the joints. While osteoarthritis (what many people get as they age) is not actually caused by inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gouty arthritis are. Try snacking on edamame to avoid arthritis with Omega-3s.
Inflammation can cause and worsen insulin resistance, which is the root cause of Type 2 diabetes. In people who already have diabetes, inflammation can also cause complications that arise from disruption in blood flow. Substitute wild rice for your grain at dinner tonight to up your Omega-3 intake and fight diabetes.
Chronic inflammation doesn’t cause all types of cancer, but around one in four cancer cases can be traced back to inflammatory causes. Inflammation can cause damage to DNA, resulting in gene mutations that can lead to cancer. Reduce your cancer risk by reaching for Omega-3-packed walnuts in between meals.
4. Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is largely genetic in cause, but scientists have recently found a link between damage to a gene that helps the body control inflammation and a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Drizzle Omega-3-rich olive oil on your salads to protect against Alzheimer’s.
5. Heart Attack
Inflammation causes the lining of your arteries to swell, meaning your heart has to work harder to pump blood to the rest of your body. Overexertion of the heart muscle can lead to weakening and eventual failure. Sprinkle flax seeds on your oatmeal to reduce your cholesterol and increase your Omega-3 intake.
Damage to blood vessels by inflammation can cause plaques to form in an attempt to fix the problem. However, these plaques can build up and form clots, resulting in strokes if they block blood flow to the brain. Meals containing beans can help lower your risk of stroke.
While the precise link remains unclear, researchers have recently found that fighting inflammation in people with drug-resistant depression can help relieve symptoms. Pack a tuna salad sandwich for lunch tomorrow for an Omega-3 fueled happiness boost.
8. Crohn’s Disease
In this debilitating bowel disease, inflammation causes ulcers and other lesions to form in the intestines. While genetics also play a role, chronic inflammation can cause and worsen symptoms in those susceptible to Crohn’s. Load up on leafy greens like spinach and kale for some plant-based Omega-3s.
Inflammation can cause swelling in the airway, resulting in wheezing, overproduction of mucus, and difficulty breathing, leading to asthma attacks. Sesame-filled hummus is a great light snack that can add some more Omega-3s to your day.
These are some serious illnesses and diseases, but as indicated there are a number of ways to cut down on inflammation in your body by making sure you consume foods rich in Omega-3s. A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids has been proven to reduce inflammation, as well as incidence of the abovementioned diseases, so whether your take our suggestions for inflammation-reducing meals and snacks or come up with your own, be sure to pack your plate with Omega-3-filled foods.