Foods to help with inflammation

Inflammation | April 16, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Inflammation

Foods to help with inflammation

It seems as though everyone in the health world is talking about inflammation. But what is it, and what does it mean for your body and long-term health?

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection, and is vital for healing. When the inflammatory response lasts only a few days, it is called acute inflammation. It involves a complex process that consists of migration of fluid, proteins, and white blood cells to fight off foreign bodies and repair the damaged tissue, and is characterised by heat, redness, swelling and pain in the affected part of the body.

When the injury is ongoing, the inflammatory response can last weeks, months, or even years, and is referred to as chronic inflammation, also known as low-grade inflammation. 

Chronic inflammation is another thing entirely. While acute inflammation plays a healing role, chronic inflammation, because of its persisting and systemic nature, serves no useful function and is very disruptive to the body. Chronic inflammation is thought to be the key driver for most chronic disease, including Alzheimer's disease, autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic pulmonary diseases, depression, and diabetes.

What Causes Chronic Inflammation?

There is no single cause for chronic inflammation, but experts say it is mostly man-made, related to modern life styles and environment. Causes include:

  • Ageing
  • Lack of exercise/excess exercise
  • Poor diet
  • Obesity/weight gain
  • Smoking
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Mental, psychological, and emotional stress
  • Environmental toxins
  • Radiation

Reducing Inflammation Naturally: Anti-Inflammatory Diet 

Food is a powerful tool to combat inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet is a diet that replaces inflammation-triggering foods with foods that fight inflammation.

A Western-style diet, dominated by processed foods, high consumption of unhealthy fats and sugar, and low in fibre, fruit and vegetables, is thought to induce inflammation.

Go Mediterranean. Numerous studies have shown that a Mediterranean-style diet reduces inflammation.It consists of abundance of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, legumes, olive oil and fish; a low intake of animal fats, red meat, poultry, dairy products and a moderate consumption of red wine during meals.

 

Foods that Promote Inflammation:

Avoid or reduce 

  • Animal fats. Meat and eggs, primarily, contain a type of fatty acid called arachidonic acid. When consumed in excess can be highly pro-inflammatory.
     
  • Trans- and hydrogenated fats. These inflammation-promoting fats can be found in thousands of foods, such as margarine, baked foods (cookies, pies, donuts, etc.), snack foods, and processed foods, including fast foods and deep-fried foods. 
     
  • Refined vegetable and seed oils. Corn, safflower, sunflower, peanut, cottonseed and soy oils contain a high level of the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid.
     
  • Sugar and refined carbs. Excess sugar and carbohydrates in the diet such as white bread and pastries can lead to insulin resistance. It is an inflammatory condition where the hormone insulin becomes less effective at lowering blood sugar, and can result in obesity and type 2 diabetes.
     
  • Excess alcohol. Heavy alcohol consumption impairs gut and liver function and contributes to systemic inflammation.

Foods that Reduce Inflammation:

  • Turmeric. Curcumin, the yellow-coloured phytochemical that is thought to be the primary active compound in turmeric, is a potent anti-inflammatory compound.
     
  • Fruit and vegetables. Plant foods contain thousands of compounds called phytonutrients that act as antioxidants and protect body function. Choose colourful fruits and vegetables such as dark leafy greens (e.g. spinach and kale), beetroot, blueberries, cherries, pomegranate, plus garlic and onions.
     
  • Ginger. Contain substances that inhibit inflammation
     
  • Green tea. Rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can neutralise free radicals and may reduce or prevent some of the damage they cause.

Fish and other foods that contain omega-3 fats. Increasing consumption of these good fats has been shown to reduce markers of inflammation.
Eat cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, as well as flaxseeds and walnuts.

 

Following an Anti Inflammatory Diet

  • Balance your fats. A very high omega 6/omega 3 fatty acid ratio, as found in today's Western diets, promotes inflammation. Avoid intake of vegetables oils and increase intake of omega-3 foods, such as fish, omega-3 fortified eggs, flaxseeds, and walnuts. Use olive oil as main dietary fat.
     
  • Increase your fibre. Sources include oats, psyllium, barley, fruit and vegetables, whole grains, flaxseeds, beans and lentils.
     
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables​ The more colourful the better.
     
  • Drink more water.
     
  • Decrease your consumption of animal protein. Eat more vegetable protein, especially from beans.
     
  • Reduce your consumption of foods made with flour and sugar. Especially bread and most packaged snack foods. Eat more whole grains such as amaranth, barley, bulgur, brown rice, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, spelt, and buckwheat.

Reducing Inflammation Naturally: Lifestyle Tips

  • Get moving. Regular physical exercise decreases inflammation.
  • Lose weight. Obesity, especially abdominal obesity, is now recognised as a chronic and systemic inflammatory disease.
  • Manage your stress. Repeated episodes of acute psychological stress, or chronic psychological stress, may induce a chronic inflammatory process.
  • Get adequate sleep. Studies on the effects of acute sleep loss in humans have shown that sleep loss increases markers of inflammation.
  • Avoid of tobacco smoke.
  • Reduce exposure to pollutants.

References

Egger, G. (2012). In Search of a Germ Theory Equivalent for Chronic Disease. Preventing Chronic Disease, 9.

Giugliano, D., Ceriello, A., & Esposito, K. (2006). The Effects of Diet on Inflammation: Emphasis on the Metabolic Syndrome. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 48(4), 677–685.

Gupta, S. C., Patchva, S., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2013). Therapeutic roles of curcumin: lessons learned from clinical trials. The AAPS Journal, 15(1), 195–218.

Harvard Health Publications 2015, Foods that fight inflammation, Harvard medical School, retrieved April 9, 2017

Mashhadi, N. S., Ghiasvand, R., Askari, G., et al. (2013). Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4(Suppl 1), S36-42.

Mullington, J. M., Simpson, N. S., Meier-Ewert, H. K., & Haack, M. (2010). Sleep loss and inflammation. Best Practice & Research. Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 24(5), 775–84.

Ruiz-Núñez, B., Pruimboom, L., Dijck-Brouwer, D. A. J., & Muskiet, F. A. J. (2013). Lifestyle and nutritional imbalances associated with Western diseases: causes and consequences of chronic systemic low-grade inflammation in an evolutionary context. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 24(7), 1183–1201.

Simopoulos, A. P. (2008). The Importance of the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio in Cardiovascular Disease and Other Chronic Diseases. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 233(6), 674–688.

Wang, H. J., Zakhari, S., & Jung, M. K. (2010). Alcohol, inflammation, and gut-liver-brain interactions in tissue damage and disease development. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 16(11), 1304–13.

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