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Dietary Causes and Cures for Chronic Inflammation

by Jaime A. Heidel
See all TBYIL articles by Jaime A. Heidel

(The Best Years in Life) Do you live with chronic inflammation and pain? It may surprise you to learn that there is a very strong connection between diet and inflammation. No matter what type of illness you live with, you can lessen or even stop your pain just by changing your diet.

What is Chronic Inflammation?

Inflammation occurs in response to an illness or injury. Under ordinary circumstances, this inflammation is temporary. An injured area becomes swollen, red, and tender for a few days or weeks while the body repairs damaged tissue and cells.

Chronic inflammation, however, is an overreaction of the immune system. Chronic inflammation usually occurs in response to a physical or emotional trauma, a long illness, environmental allergies, and/or food intolerance.

The Connection Between Diet and Inflammation

The symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia can all be made worse or better by your diet.

Once you understand which foods cause inflammation and which calm it, you will be able to greatly reduce your suffering.

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Foods to Avoid With Chronic Inflammation

There are certain foods that increase the level of pro-inflammatory compounds in your body called cytokines. Your immune system sees these foods as foreign invaders and goes on the attack to fight them off. This process greatly taxes your already-exhausted adrenal glands, which increases fatigue and pain.

  • Gluten

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye that cannot be digested in those with gluten sensitivity or the autoimmune condition, celiac disease.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is more common than previously believed. Even if you don't have any of the telltale gastrointestinal symptoms, this protein could still be triggering silent and dangerous inflammation in your body right now!

In a person with gluten intolerance, the immune system views this protein as a foreign invader and attacks your body's healthy tissues. This increases inflammation and leads to exhaustion, soreness, and brain fog.

  • Corn

You're not eating the same corn your grandparents ate. Almost all corn is now genetically modified, which can lead to not only chronic inflammation, but neurological abnormalities, as well.

Unfortunately, even if you are eating organic corn, it may still worsen your chronic pain. This is because corn is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which, when consumed in high amounts, increase inflammation.

  • Sugar

If you drink soda, stop. Soda is one of the worst things anybody living with chronic inflammation can consume. Depending on the type you drink, soda may contain refined white sugar, aspartame, and/or high fructose corn syrup.

Refined sugar is not only an unfamiliar agent your body doesn’t recognize as food, it also has a very high glycemic index. High glycemic index foods increase inflammation.

Aspartame is a synthetic sweetener that is dangerous to even the healthiest people. It is a toxic concoction of chemicals that causes your immune system to overreact, increasing inflammation. It has been shown to have a negative impact on neurological health, as well.

High fructose corn syrup is another synthetic sweetener that can trigger chronic inflammation and pain. It has been scientifically proven that HFCS increases inflammatory response and the likelihood for the development of metabolic syndrome.

  • Food Dyes

If you eat commercial breakfast cereal or drink soda, you’re ingesting food dyes. These synthetic chemicals may cause a low-grade allergic reaction, which can increase chronic pain. It is best to avoid them.

Foods That Heal Chronic Inflammation

When you’re living with pain every single day, it can be debilitating and depressing.

This is why it’s so important to let in as much positive and healing energy into your life as possible. This starts with your diet.

Trading in your junk food for a whole food diet filled with organic vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, brown rice, wild-caught fish, organic poultry, and healing fats like coconut oil, can help your body heal.

The foods mentioned below are especially beneficial for those living with chronic inflammation.

  • Cayenne

Cayenne pepper is a warming herb that helps improve digestion and decrease inflammation. You can sprinkle it on your food or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, drink it.

Start out small, though. Use ¼ or a ½ teaspoon in a 4-ounce glass of room-temperature water and drink. Note: If you have acid reflux or are taking blood thinners, avoid using cayenne without first checking with your health care provider.

  • Flax Seed

Flax seed is amazing stuff. It is rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that help soothe chronic pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, flax seed “lubricates joints and lessens stiffness and joint pain”. Sprinkle milled flax seed into your salad or yogurt for an extra boost of anti-inflammatory nutrition.

  • Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a potent antibacterial and inflammation fighter. For best results, take coconut oil raw from a spoon or mix it into a homemade smoothie. You can also cook with coconut oil as it easily replaces pro-inflammatory oils such as corn, vegetable, and soy.

  • Garlic

Chronic bacterial infection, colds, and flu are a common problem for people with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and other inflammatory diseases.

Chopping garlic releases a chemical compound called allicin, which fights bacteria and boosts the immune system. For best results, eat garlic raw sprinkled on a salad or add it as the last ingredient in a stir-fry before you turn off the heat. (Cooking garlic reduces its potency.)

Chronic inflammation means your immune system is overreacting to its environment. Somewhere along the line, disease, trauma, environmental allergies, or food allergies triggered your chronic condition.

Now that you have a better understanding of the connection between diet and chronic inflammation, you can turn all that around and, enjoy more happy, pain-free days.


See also:

Natural Ways To Reduce Inflammation

What are Pain and Inflammation, and Why is it Important That We Learn About This?

Natural Options for Inflammatory Bowel Disease


About the author:

Jaime is a professional freelance writer with a passion for natural health and wellness and she is also the author of Life Beyond Chronic Pain: The Step-by-Step Guide to Healing Chronic Illness Naturally. Her website, I Told You I Was Sick, was created to help those living with chronic pain and illness find natural ways to heal.

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