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Inflammation Is At The Root of Most Diseases
Living with a disease or having our immunity being compromised by common diagnoses such as, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), we should pay more attention to the long-term effects that are needed. A commonality introduced by inflammation is at the root of most diseases.
Incorporating foods that fight against inflammation, can help alleviate some of the symptoms, and the domino affect it can have on some ones health.
Inflammation is a bodily function that happens when someone has been injured, or illness signals lymphatic (immune) system to carry the immune system’s white blood cells to the problem area. The body increases blood flow when there is inflammation.
With the excess blood flow there may be swelling, redness, heat, pain and sometimes discomfort. You’ve probably seen this immune response in action, as you get a paper cut and your finger swells up around the wound while the extra blood runs. Inflammation is the normal for a healthy response that promotes healing.
Our body can overreact at times such as dealing with an autoimmune disorder like leaky gut. Inflammation is in rather healthy areas of the body. This reaction is common for arthritis and fibermyalgia, celiac disease and irritable bowel disease (IBD). Areas of concern that aren’t autoimmune, inflammation can still cascade as the body tries to heal the tissues in a specific area. Asthma causes inflamed lung capacity; inflammation related to diabetes affects insulin prevention etc.
Despite the connection between inflammation and prevalent diseases, as well as the connection between diet and inflammation that we’ll explore, diet isn’t always analyzed in response to inflammation. In a 2014 study on diet and IBD, 33 percent of the patients in the study opted against the proposed anti-inflammatory diet. All of the patients who participated and consumed anti-inflammatory foods found enough relief that they were able to discontinue at least one of their medications. Still, the study notes that physicians typically offer “if it hurts, don’t do it” advice instead of clear dietary guidelines. (1)
Certainly, there is more we can do to promote anti-inflammatory lifestyle changes.
The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Standard American diets (appropriately called SAD) are never touted as exemplary, but when talking about inflammation, it becomes vitally important to rethink our typical diets. As a report from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases reported:
While today’s modern diet may provide beneficial protection from micro- and macronutrient deficiencies, our over abundance of calories and the macronutrients that compose our diet may all lead to increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease. (2)
To move toward an anti-inflammatory diet and anti-inflammatory foods, we primarily move away from the abundance of overly processed, unbalanced diets of the West and toward the ancient eating patterns of the Mediterranean. (3) A Mediterranean diet comprises plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, little to no red meat, certainly no chemicals or meat additives, and an abundance of omega-3 foods.
As we look into the anti-inflammatory components of certain foods and herbs, we can see how this kind of diet is linked with lowered inflammation. Among the many compounds found in fresh produce, a few general categories stand out as beneficial when attacking inflammation and inflammatory diseases at their source.
- Antioxidant foods
- Essential fatty acids
There’s little doubt that the pursuit of a healing diet begins with a menu high in vegetables, fruits, wild meats and sprouted seeds rich with omega-3 benefits. The evidence is clear that such anti-inflammatory foods can regulate the immune system and impact the way inflammation affects our bodies and our lives. (4)
13 Anti-Inflammatory Foods
By adding the right types of anti-inflammatory foods that decrease inflammation and reconstruct your health at a cellular level, you can begin to repair the body.
1. Green Leafy Vegetables
Stock up on greens and leafy vegetables when fighting inflammation. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants vitamin A and C, as well as vitamin K. These antioxidants can assist your brain in protecting from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
2. Bok Choy
Also known as Chinese cabbage, bok choy is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins and minerals. In fact, recent studies show that there are over 70 antioxidant phenolic substances in bok choy. These include something called hydroxycinnamic acids, which are robust antioxidants that scavenge free radicals. (5) A versatile vegetable, bok choy can be made in many dishes outside of Chinese cuisine, so make it one of your go-to anti-inflammatory foods.
Celery include both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities that help improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as prevent heart disease. Celery seeds have been known to help to lower inflammation and to fight bacterial infections. It’s an excellent source of potassium, as well as antioxidants and vitamins.
Beets are great for cleaning the liver and they also rebuild cell damage caused by inflammation. Beets are a root vegetable that contain a source of Betaine, a natural liver detoxifier and bile thinner, which helps decrease gallstones. Beets are rich in folic acid, they offer great benefits for females reproductive systems. Beets are also used to assist in treating uterine disorders.
Broccoli is great roughage and contains detoxifying agents known as Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin, and glucobrassicin. The high levels of both potassium and magnesium, and its antioxidants are great anti-inflammatory agents. Broccoli is also known for its anti-aging properties being packed full of vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin B and E.
Berries that are darker tend to have high levels of flavonoid value and contain quercetin. The excessive amount of antioxidants blueberries protect the body from oxidative stress and reducing inflammation. Blueberries repress cognitive decline and improve memory and motor function.
Pineapple contains a natural digestive enzyme, and is packed full of bromelain, which can fight blood clotting and it is an organic way other than taking an aspirin a day to decrease the risk of heart attack. Being used as an anti-inflammatory regulator eating pineapple helps to stabilize the immune response which often creates inflammation.
When your source of food is mostly plant-based, such as being a vegan, nuts and seeds can make up the difference for protein and omega-3. The benefit of consuming walnuts can increase healthy brain development. Anthropological research suggests that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1.
9. Coconut oil
Coconut oil can reduce high blood pressure and risk factors to protect against heart disease. The anti-inflammatory agents are helpful in reducing free radicals. Since coconut oil contains high levels of antioxidants, it’s a number one treatment for osteoporosis.
10. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory power house that regulates blood flow and helps reduce stress. Chia seeds are enriched with omega-3, omega-6, fatty acids, essential vitamins (A, B, E, and D) along with minerals including, sulphur, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, niacin, and thiamine which are all important for sustainability.
An antioxidant also great source of omega-3s and phytonutrients. Great fiber-related polyphenols that sustain us with antioxidant benefits for anti-aging, hormone balance and cellular health. Polyphenols can promote good gut bacteria and may eliminate yeast and candida in the body.
Turmeric’s primary compound, curcumin, is its active anti-inflammatory component. Packed full of anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is highly effective at helping people manage rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or lessen symptoms related to inflammation.
Ginger is an immune modulator that helps reduce inflammation caused by overactive immune responses. Ginger is so effective treating inflammation in allergic and asthmatic disorders.
Common Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
- Artificial Colors
- Artificial Flavors
- Canned Foods
- Foods containing flour
- Fried foods
- Oils/Hydrogenated oils (vegetable oils such as soy, corn, sunflower, safflower, or palm oil)
- Processed foods
- Refined foods
- Synthetic sweeteners
(1) Olendzki, B. C., Silverstein, T. D., Persuitte, G. M., Ma, Y., Baldwin, K. R., & Cave, D. (2014). An anti-inflammatory diet as treatment for inflammatory bowel disease: a case series report. Nutrition Journal, 13, 5. http://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-13-5
(2) Myles, I. A. (2014). Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity. Nutrition Journal, 13, 61. http://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-13-61
(3) Leo Galland, MD (December 07, 2010). Diet and Inflammation. Nutrition in Clinical Practice Vol 25, Issue 6, pp. 634 – 640
(4) Watzl B. (2008). Anti-inflammatory effects of plant-based foods and of their constituents. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 78, pp. 293-298. DOI: 10.1024/0300-98220.127.116.113. © 2013 Hogrefe AG.
(5) (“Bok Choy.” Jan 15th. 2017). Bok Choy. N.p., n.d. Web.
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