January is the time where it seems like the whole world is on a new diet. We get it—after the festive period is over, you're left feeling bloated, sluggish and generally a bit rubbish. But we're over fad diets that only make you feel worse. In 2019, as well as adopting all the healthy eating methods we can, we're into diets that will make you feel better and improve your overall health. Enter: the anti-inflammatory diet, which some studies have suggested could go so far as fighting disease and helping you live longer. This diet isn't about weight loss (although you might find that you'll probably shed a few pounds in the process)—it's a diet that will help your body balance its levels of inflammation.
Why Is Inflammation Bad?
The name "anti-inflammation diet" suggests that inflammation on a whole is bad, which isn't technically correct. Inflammation in the body is completely natural and necessary for helping your body to heal and prevent illness.
"Whilst inflammation is good in terms of a short-term immune reaction to help heal the body, long-term inflammation causes the body damage," says nutritional therapist Libby Limon. "We have both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory pathways which must be in balance to maintain optimum health. However, unfortunately, many of the dietary and lifestyle choices we make can be inflammatory."
These diet and lifestyle factors mean that a lot of people are faced with low-level inflammation in their body every day, which can lead to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation happens when you've had low-levels of inflammation in your body for a prolonged period of time. Studies have shown that it's this chronic inflammation that can lead to health problems and some diseases.
Health experts agree that chronic inflammation is a major contribution of everything from asthma, Alzheimer's disease, depression, heart disease and some types of cancer. Therefore, by limiting the number of inflammatory factors and eating a diet which is full of anti-inflammatory foods, it's possible to balance out your inflammation levels and significantly improve your overall health.
So, What Can You Eat?
"My favourite anti-inflammatory foods include turmeric, omega-3s from oily fish, flax and chia seeds and a plant-rich diet with all the colours of the rainbow," says Limon. Whilst an anti-inflammatory diet doesn't require you to completely eliminate any food groups entirely, it's a good idea to try and limit processed foods, refined carbohydrates and sugary beverages. It's also worth trying to buy organic produce where possible to reduce your exposure to toxic pesticides.