Inflammation. It is something we have all experienced in one-way or another. Perhaps it was a skin rash, indigestion, a sprained ankle or even a sore throat. Whatever the case may be, the outcome is usually the same- swelling, pain and redness. Inflammation can be a good thing-it’s your body’s response to injury and illness. The increased circulation, swelling, heat, and even pain it causes actually help your body to heal. But prolonged inflammation can stimulate the disease process. Inflammation can be minor or it can be something that leads to chronic inflammation, which could lead to more serious diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, dementia and more.
Some of the causes of inflammation are viral and bacterial infections, stress, toxins, free-radical damage, repeated trauma and allergens. Not surprisingly, another contributor to inflammation is a high-fat, high-sugar, and high-carbohydrate diet. Meals high in sugar and fats have been found by the University of Buffalo to release free radicals into the bloodstream and ultimately increase the inflammatory state in the body. So what can we do to prevent inflammation?
Since inflammation can occur so frequently it is important to develop smart lifestyle habits. As often as you can choose healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil for cooking and for salad dressings. Eliminate or reduce the use of margarine, shortening, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are sources of trans fats, and do the same with butter. Eat more fish, especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help thin the blood, prevent blood clots, and reduce inflammation. Increase the consumption of dark chocolate. Since chocolate has an anti-inflammatory capability, it can effectively lower the risk of certain disease and relieve inflammation. The powerful polyphenol nutrients in cocoa and acai are known to be able to inhibit different inflammatory mechanisms.
Antioxidants are known to fight off free radicals that are caused by stress, environmental factors, pollution, the foods that we eat and of course inflammation. Most people don’t know this but cocoa is ranked as one of the highest dietary source of antioxidants. Cocoa has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times the amount found in green tea.
So go ahead and indulge in a healthy treat. Your body will thank you for it later!