Yes, jumping on the anti-inflammatory diet bandwagon by steering clear of highly acidic foods can help reduce inflammation and it's many painful side effects like stiff joints, muscle aches, headaches, indigestion, and low energy — but, it isn't a foolproof response to completely preventing inflammation.
The main reason: Inflammation isn't just a reaction to one's diet.
Dr. Arielle Levitan, MD, a board-certified internal medicine physician and the co-founder of Vous Vitamin, describes inflammation as the body's overreaction to the stimulus it doesn't like by producing a variety of chemicals to help "fight off" something — this response is what causes those uncomfortable symptoms.
She adds that certain individuals can be more prone to inflammation, "especially people who are known to suffer from allergies, or who have a family history of autoimmune diseases."
There are also different types of inflammation — and understanding the types and causes is key to treating your ailments and preventing future bouts, Dr. Niket Sonpal, MD, a professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, explains.
When you eliminate food from the equation, there are essentially two types of inflammation — Dr. Sonpal walked us through each one to help you take charge of your pain.
Acute inflammation usually occurs for a short duration, resolving itself in two weeks or less, but it can be severe and symptoms appear relatively quickly, Dr. Sonpal says.
Instances such as stroke, muscle injuries, and broken bones are just a few examples of what can trigger acute inflammation, he continues. "When these happen, the actual body's defense system sounds the alarms and sends in massive waves of repair cells, immune cells, and restorative functions to fix what happened."
Infection is another form of acute inflammation to watch out for. Dr. Sonpal notes that bacteria, viruses, and fungi can set off your immune system, causing inflammation — this usually presents itself as a fever.
To prevent acute inflammation, Dr. Sonpal suggests practicing good preventive medicine with the help of a physician to reduce your risk of illness and injury.
Considered a slower and generally less severe form of inflammation, Dr. Sonpal explains that chronic inflammation typically lasts longer than six weeks.
He adds, that chronic inflammation has been linked to autoimmune disorders, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis — especially when a combination of genetic and environmental factors cause our own immune system to damage vital organs and tissues.
Prolonged stress can also act as a trigger.
"Early detection and treatment with medications are the way to handle these," Dr. Sonpal admits.