What is Inflammation? Signs, Causes, and What You Can Do To Get Rid of It

Are you wondering exactly why inflammation occurs and what it can do to the body? This post will not only explain inflammation but will also tell you the symptoms. You’ll learn the best ways to reduce inflammation, so you feel healthy again!

Are you wondering exactly why inflammation occurs and what it can do to the body? This post will not only explain inflammation but will also tell you the symptoms. You’ll learn the best ways to reduce inflammation, so you feel healthy again!

I can’t stress enough the importance of your diet and how it makes you feel. Food has such an impact on your overall well-being.

That’s exactly why I got into this line of work, you know. Because I learned how what I ate could make me feel amazing, giving me lots of energy to raise 4 kids, hold down a job, and have a great relationship with my hubby. 

And I wanted to pass that knowledge, and more, to you.

This post is pretty important in that it explains how a few changes to what you eat can have a drastic impact on how you feel.

It’s pretty straightforward…

Don’t eat inflammatory foods.

Eat lots of anti-inflammatory foods.

Move more.

That’s it!

Do you want to know why? And how to make these changes to feel better than ever?

Read on!

Close up side view of 3 jars of oil, which can be inflammatory if you do not eat the right kind such as olive oil.

WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?

Inflammation is a natural process. Yep, the body does produce an inflammatory response on occasion as a way of healing itself. It is called acute inflammation.

You see, if the body experiences an injury, inflammation occurs. Heat and swelling are the body’s repair mechanisms to heal the injury. Or if there is an infection in the body, immunity cells rush to the location, invading pathogens. You may have a fever and feel tired. These are natural inflammatory responses.

However, when it comes to chronic inflammation, the body is not in a healing process. In fact, when the body responds to continual low-level inflammation, it’s because the immune system markers in the blood and tissue are above normal levels. The white blood cells that normally do a great job of healing an injury are working against a threat (injury or infection) that doesn’t exist.

In this case, tissues, organs, and cells are affected by an influx of white blood cells that shouldn’t be there. And that’s where long-term inflammatory conditions come in, like colitis, arthritis, and Chrohn’s disease.

WHAT LIFESTYLE CHOICES CAN LEAD TO INFLAMMATION?

Inflammation can be directly affected by your lifestyle, such as being sedentary. Although what you eat plays a major part, being inactive can lead to inflammation, particularly in women.

Avoiding tobacco is another key component. How does that come about? Well, nicotine activates neutrophils, which are white blood cells. These cells release molecules that can increase inflammation. 

Watching weight gain around the midsection is important, too. The C-reactive protein marker raised by inflammation may be influenced by the amount of fat cells you have. This chronic inflammation due to excess weight can lead to issues like metabolic syndrome.

Eating the wrong types of fats on a regular basis can be linked to inflammation. Saturated fat in red meat is an example, as is cooking with unhealthy oils

An overhead image of a large glass bowl with fresh roma tomatoes for the Roasted Tomato Sauce, an anti-inflammatory food.

BEST WAYS TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION

Studies have proven that inflammation leads to chronic disease, but there are ways that we can try to avoid the damaging process. Take these steps to keep inflammation at bay:

  • Make quality sleep a priority
  • Avoid processed foods with added sugar and trans fats
  • Exercise and get fresh air
  • Limit carbs like sugar and white flour
  • Help the kidneys to rid the body of excess water and salt with intermittent fasting
  • Eliminate foods like sugar-laden soft drinks, juices, and snacks
  • Avoid environmental toxins
  • Eat plenty of vegetables
  • Include antioxidant-rich foods in your diet

Don’t look at the list and say, how can I manage all of that? It’s a step by step process and everything you do works towards a healthier you.

I know, it can be really easy to fall into bad habits and feel as though you can never make changes. You can convince yourself that you are in too deep to get out.

That’s just not true. If you’ve watched my video on my journey to weight loss and a healthy lifestyle, you’ll know that I once felt like that, too.

But with determination and a little knowledge, I was able to move beyond those negative thoughts and put concrete plans into action, like quitting sugar and exercising, and just putting faith in myself.

Along the way, I’ve learned some pretty key information about inflammation, and I’ve written a few other posts about it, including 18 Top Anti-Inflammatory Foods. It’s full of helpful information and explains why you should eat clean, and make foods like fatty fish, avocado, beans, and broccoli mainstays of your diet. Hop on over to that guide, and you’ll learn a lot about beating inflammation.

Overhead view of refried spicy black beans in a meal prep container, an anti-inflammatory food.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF INFLAMMATION?

Inflammation caused by eating foods that are not good for you makes you feel blah, in general. You may be irritable and out of sorts. Other symptoms can be:

  • Memory loss or fogginess
  • Joint pain
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Digestive upset like constipation
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Headaches
  • Inability to lose weight 
  • Weight gain

Overhead image of a bowl of dark cherries, a great anti-inflammatory food.

WHAT FOODS CAUSE THE MOST INFLAMMATION?

Some foods are hallmark examples for setting off inflammatory responses in the body. Overly processed and sugary foods are two of them.

You see, C-reactive protein is a marker in the blood that points to the presence of inflammation. Certain foods, like trans fats, sugar, and processed foods, will tip the scale toward inflammation. Not to mention, tipping the scale to weight gain and feelings of fatigue.

Chronic inflammation brought on by consistently eating the wrong foods can lead to illness, as I’ve mentioned. Stroke and heart disease are two of them, and diabetes and Alzheimer’s are thought to be brought on by inflammatory plaque as well.

Foods to avoid? Processed foods that can remain on the shelf for months are no way near what you should be eating for a healthy body. Stay away from these foods:

  • Trans fats
  • Processed sugar
  • Processed meat 
  • Refined carbs
  • Aspartame
  • Gluten
  • MSG
  • Vegetable and seed oils
  • Casein
  • Alcohol

If you want the detailed scoop on inflammatory foods, read my post 10 Foods That Cause Inflammation. Each one of these food categories is discussed in detail there.

The different parts for how to meal prep salmon, ready to be added into the meal prep containers, including green beans, garlic rice, and pan-roasted salmon for an anti-inflammatory meal.

WHAT FOODS HELP WITH INFLAMMATION OF THE JOINTS?

Arthritis can be helped by diet. A 2018 study done by the National Institutes of Health proved that foods, whether healthy or non-healthy, had noticeable effects on the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Blueberries and fish were two foods noted in the study as beneficial. 

Other foods good in fighting inflammation are beans (due to phytonutrients), avocado (because of monounsaturated fats), and healthy oils like olive oil. 

Get super informed about how to change your diet to a non-inflammatory one by reading my post on the Top 18 Anti-Inflammatory Foods. I’ll fill you in on the foods I’ve mentioned here, like berries and oils. Turmeric is another top anti-inflammatory food, and I’ve even written an entire post just on the spice. Read my post on this super spice here, to learn about curcumin in the turmeric and how beneficial it is for you.

Overhead view of all 5 of the turmeric chickpea buddha bowls which are the lunch for this 5 day anti-inflammatory meal plan.

ENJOY ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEALS

I’ve created a 5-Day Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Plan to help you feel well-balanced and on the way to a better you. From breakfast to yummy snacks, I’ve covered it all. Your digestive system will thank you for it, and you will be on your way to ridding your body of potential chronic inflammation.

Not only will your body feel better, but your emotional state will, too. Depression is linked to inflammation, along with other mental conditions. A healthy sense of well-being is worth the dietary change, too.

For breakfast, you will have the Matcha Chia Make-Ahead Smoothie. Lunch is a Buddha bowl with tons of chickpeas, kale, and the anti-inflammatory spice, turmeric. Dinner is a stuffed sweet potato and I’ve even thrown in a yummy snack. All of the recipes are in the post here.

You will note that meals are vegetarian-based. I chose to go that way because inflammation is notably lower in those who eat a vegetarian based diet long-term. Antioxidant markers are higher in vegetarians, too. As you know, I don’t follow a strictly plant-based diet, but for the purposes of inflammation, it’s the way to go.

This post contains affiliate links for products I use regularly and highly recommend.

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

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