If you are dealing with inflammation, then you should be aware of the fact that how and what you eat can make the problem worse. On the other hand, the right diet can also help you reverse and reduce the painful effects of inflammation. To do the latter, you can take advantage of eating habits that will lower your C-reactive protein (CRP) value.
What is CRP? It occurs as a protein produced in the liver when inflammation flares up, according to the Mayo Clinic. The Cleveland Clinic also notes that CRP levels in your body—more specifically, your blood—can indicate the presence of both infections and various autoimmune problems. Higher CRP levels are also associated with metabolic problems such as upper body obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, hypertension, abnormal glucose and low HDL (aka “good” cholesterol). This is why it’s important to keep your CRP under control.
follow Johna Burdeos, RD“[There are] are some of the best ways to lower CRP, a marker of inflammation.”
With that in mind, check out the following beneficial dietary habits that can help lower CRP and, in turn, help reduce your chances of dealing with the painful side effects of inflammation.
The first suggestion Burdeos offers to keep your CRP at the bottom is to eat seafood. Indeed, it is not just any fish, but specific choices such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies and herring which are all rich in omega-3.
“Omega-3 fats are essential for optimal nutrition and are known to reduce inflammation by inhibiting pro-inflammatory responses,” says Burdeos. Eat This, Not That!
While that sounds ideal, Burdeos also notes that “reducing inflammation can help prevent chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.” That’s why he recommends “including omega-3, fat-rich seafood in your diet twice a week.”
“If fatty fish isn’t something you want to eat, then you need to eat other omega-3-rich foods—in the form of plant-based foods,” says Burdeos. “These foods are important to include whether you eat seafood or not because they offer a variety of other nutritional benefits such as plant protein, fiber, and micronutrients.”
If you want to know what options you can choose from, Burdeos points out that “plant foods rich in omega 3 include chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts.”
“Others that include omega-3 but are not as high as mentioned are flaxseed and omega-3 fortified meat and meat products such as eggs and dairy from grass-fed animals,” he added.
There are various reasons why you might want to avoid fried foods. However, in this case, Burdeos explained that “it is well established that fried foods can trigger inflammation.”
“[Fried foods] typically cooked in partially hydrogenated oils and high temperatures for frying can increase their trans fat content,” continued Burdeos. “Trans fats are associated with increased bad LDL cholesterol and decreased HDL cholesterol, thereby increasing your risk of heart disease.”
“Additional sodium is also a concern because eating too much sodium is linked to the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and stroke,” says Burdeos.
Furthermore, researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that cutting down on fried foods not only reduces inflammation but also improves the body’s immune system.
“Fruits and vegetables are loaded with a variety of nutrients—fiber, micronutrients, and antioxidants like vitamin C, anthocyanins, beta-carotene, and lycopene—all of which work together to fight inflammation,” says Burdeos. “Since no single fruit or vegetable contains all the nutrients you eat, it’s important to get variety in your diet to maximize your intake.”
“If you are not good at putting it in [fruits and vegetables] in your diet, consider easy ways to consume this food group: smoothies, salad kits, pre-cut fruits and vegetables for snacks,” adds Burdeos.