Tom Brady, Venus Williams, Penélope Cruz, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley have something in common, aside from being unnaturally beautiful: They’ve all followed forms of anti-inflammatory (AI) diets at one time or another.
Tom has done it to boost his performance on the football field. Venus said she did it to help keep her autoimmune disorder in check. And Penélope and Rosie have followed an AI-style detox to keep their skin radiant.
What is inflammation, anyway?
Believe it or not, inflammation starts as a good thing. It happens when your immune system sends out white blood cells and “warrior” compounds like eicosanoids to attack invading viruses, bacteria, or toxins. A classic example of totally normal inflammation: pain, heat, redness, and swelling around a wound or injury (think of a tender sprained ankle).
But for more and more of us, the balance never happens. That’s because sugar, refined grains, and saturated fat can also trigger an inflammatory immune response, notes Sears, and the typical Western diet is packed with them, meaning we’re inflaming our bodies over and over, every time we eat.
Air pollution and environmental toxins also trigger your immune system this way, but “most of the chronic, extra inflammation in our bodies is diet-related,” says Sears. In arteries, chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease. In the brain, it’s linked to anxiety and depression. In your joints, it causes swelling and pain.
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