By Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT
Inflammation is a term that is tossed around in the wellness world. In some cases, like when you get a wound, inflammation can be helpful for healing. But too much inflammation, or chronic inflammation, is something that many of us want to combat, as it is linked to many undesired outcomes like an increased risk of certain cancers, hypertension, and weight gain.
The good news is that there are simple ways that you can manage inflammation in your body. Below are 3 tips for you to include in your daily life that can help keep your chronic inflammation at bay.
1 - Use extra virgin olive oil when cooking or baking
Olive oil is a popular ingredient in many dishes because of its rich flavor and versatility. Along with the culinary benefits, consuming olive oil can offer some health benefits too – one being that it has anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
Olive oil is loaded with a fatty acid called oleic acid as well as certain antioxidants, both of which have been shown to offer anti-inflammatory effects. And since the saturated fat content of olive oil is extremely low when compared with other fat sources, using this oil instead of choices like butter or lard is a logic choice, as consumption of saturated fat is associated with increased inflammation.
Whether you are brushing olive oil on your bread instead of butter or drizzling it over some grilled fresh veggies, including this unique oil into your diet can be a satisfying and simple way to manage your health.
2 - Avoid Trans Fats
Grabbing a pre-packaged donut or frozen pizza is convenient, but eating these foods comes with some downsides, one being that they are often loaded with trans fats, or fats that increase inflammation in the body.
Sources of trans fats include most margarines, shortenings, many refrigerated doughs, baked goods, and certain microwavable popcorn. Choosing trans-fat-free ingredients like olive oil instead of margarines and shortenings can help you manage your inflammation without sacrificing taste. And drizzling olive oil over warm popcorn tastes better than margarine any day of the week anyways!
3 - Balance Refined Sources of Omega-6 Fatty Acids, Like Those Found In Vegetable Oils, With Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Refined sources of omega-6 fatty acids are found in many fat sources, including:
- corn oil
- soybean oil
- cottonseed oil
- sunflower oil
- peanut oil
Regular consumption of refined omega 6 fatty acids may result in an imbalance of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids, which some data suggest may promote inflammation in certain situations. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in foods like fatty fish and nuts.
And while certain oils like extra virgin olive oil has a high omega 6 to omega 3 ratio (over 10:1), the total amount of omega 6 is still relatively low. In contrast, corn oil has an omega-6 to omega-3 fat ratio of 46:1.
Taking a Proactive Approach To Managing Inflammation
Managing chronic inflammation is one way to keep your body healthy, and including these simple steps can help you keep your well-being in tip-top shape. When it comes to diet, choosing foods that are considered to be anti-inflammatory – think fruits, veggies, olive oil, and nuts over foods that contain saturated fats and excessive sugars – is a simple first step on your anti-inflammatory journey that is absolutely delicious and satisfying.
And along with the right dietary choices, making smart lifestyle choices like including moderate exercise into your day, not smoking cigarettes, and managing stress will help you manage your inflammation in a healthy way.
Taking a proactive approach to your health is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, and following these steps is a practical starting point.
About the Author
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, author, and freelance writer who is based in Charleston, SC. She has been studying nutrition for 20 years and is passionate about providing evidence-based nutrition information. Her work has been featured in major media outlets worldwide.