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Holiday Foods and Inflammation

  • Posted: Saturday, November 19, 2016

It’s that time of year again — when we overload our dinner plates and allow ourselves more treats than usual.  Yep, it’s the Holidays!  And while we all deserve to indulge a bit in our favorite holiday foods, it’s good to keep in mind which foods can cause the most inflammation and which foods can actually help us fight inflammation.

Why is inflammation so important?  Inflammation is part of our immune response. It occurs naturally to help clear out detrimental issues within the body and also promote repair.  So when working properly, inflammation can be like a maintenance and repair crew.  However, chronic inflammation can be like a wrecking ball! Chronic inflammation (inflammation that continues to occur over long periods of time) can actually begin to disrupt the body’s natural functions and eventually contribute to various diseases, ranging from allergies and arthritis to diabetes and cancer.  Plus it can manifest itself as joint and muscle pain…which is what we at Body Aligned are working to help you avoid!  

Certain foods can cause or exacerbate an inflammatory response. This is not a complete list, by any means, but rather some of the top offenders.  So while we may enjoy them, it is best to either enjoy them in disciplined moderation or, frankly, avoid them all together.

  • Processed, prepared foods – including fast food and convenience foods.  These contain so many artificial ingredients, additives and preservatives that are prime triggers for inflammatory response.
  • White sugar – this includes candy, baked goods, soft drinks and unfortunately many juices.  While artificial sweeteners may seem to be a solution, they, too, are linked to serious health conditions. It’s best to control that sweet tooth, and just enjoy in moderation.
  • Alcohol – high in sugar and also taxes the liver.
  • Iodized salt – sodium is best in a more natural form. So, it’s much better to replace it with Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt.  These salts contain other minerals that provide a more well-balanced additive.
  • Dairy products – not only are they inflammatory, but non-organic dairy contains antibiotics and hormones that can also promote an inflammatory response
  • Margarine, shortening and lard – While you may not use them at home, these can also be found lurking in store-bought baked goods as well.  It’s better to go the extra mile and bake items yourself using high-quality grass-fed butter, olive oil, or coconut oil. 

Certain foods, on the other hand, can actually be anti-inflammatory.  So, especially during the holiday season, it’s a great idea to include as many of these as possible.  Again, not a complete list, but some of our favorites and some that especially seem appropriate for the holidays.

  • Herbs – Rosemary, Basil, Parsley, Oregano, Mint
  • Spices – Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Turmeric
  • Nuts – Almonds, Walnuts, Brazil nuts
  • *Wild* Caught Fish – Salmon, Albacore Tuna, Trout
  • Fruits – Cantaloupe, Peaches, Strawberries
  • Vegetables – Broccoli, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes

While we don't claim to be licensed nutritionists, these guidelines are widely accepted advice.  But we know that nobody can expect to be perfect over the holidays. So to help combat those little slips and cheats that can cause inflammation, make sure to keep up with your regular schedule of exercise – and maybe add an extra session or two.  Schedule your appointments for Pilates, Xtend Barre or Yoga at Body Aligned Pilates and Wellness in South Tampa today.  We're here to help you stay healthy…right into the New Year.  

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