Inflammation is our friend under normal circumstances, it's how our bodies fight harmful invaders. For instance, when you cut your finger, it results in pain, redness and swelling, all signs of inflammation. The same thing happens with a sprained ankle or a sore throat. Inflammation after an injury or illness is a sign your body is responding appropriately.
“Inflammation is part of a healthy immune system response,” says Monica Reinagel, author of The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan. “But there can be an inappropriate inflammatory response whether there’s an actual threat.”
This results in chronic inflammation and is linked to a wide range of serious illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and even depression and mood disorders.
Chronic inflammation may be fueled by a broad range of lifestyle factors that promote the production of inflammatory chemicals, including smoking, chronic stress, obesity, lack of exercise and diet.
“Most people eat too many foods that promote inflammation, and too few that quell it,” says Reinagel. A diet high in refined, processed foods and animal products cause the body to create inflammatory compounds.
Processed foods are lacking in antioxidants, which help the body fight inflammation. “The inflammatory process creates free radicals as a by-product,” says Reinagel, this results in a vicious cycle.”
PRIMARY DIETARY OFFENDERS:
1. UNHEALTHY FATS. Trans fats and other hydrogenated oils are the primary offenders. “We know that as little as 3g of trans fats a day can lead to an increase in heart disease and stroke risk,” says Fred Pescatore, MD. Saturated fats from animal products also are linked to the production of inflammatory chemicals.
2. REFINED CARBOHYDRATES. Inflammation can impair blood sugar regulation, which is worsened by eating refined carbohydrates/high-glycemic index foods, such as sugar and white flour.
3. ANIMAL PRODUCTS. Meat, poultry, eggs and shellfish are all high in arachidonic acid, a compound that contributes to inflammation. Eat organic when possible, and choose fish, white meat chicken and nonfat dairy products to lower arachidonic acid consumption.
4. GLUTEN. Wheat and many other grains, like rye, barley and spelt, contain a protein called gluten that may be associated with inflammation.
5. NIGHTSHADES. Potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are members of the nightshade family and contain a compound called solanine that can trigger inflammation in some people.
1. SALMON. Wild-caught salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation. (Avoid farm-raised salmon; it’s higher in arachidonic acid, as well as PCBs and other toxins.) Herring, mackerel and sardines are also rich in omega-3s.
2. WALNUTS. A source of omega-3s, walnuts appear to counter some of the inflammatory processes that lead to heart disease. They are packed with other healthful compounds, including vitamin E, which is a powerful immune booster, says Pescatore.
3. ONIONS. Onions are high in quercetin, a type of antioxidant that inhibits enzymes that trigger inflammation; onions also contain sulfur compounds that are used to manage the body’s immune system. Other sources include apples, broccoli, red wine, red grapes or grape juice and tea.
4. BLUEBERRIES. Blueberries are loaded with anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol antioxidant that boosts immunity and protects the body from free radical damage, which triggers inflammation. Other good sources of polyphenols include blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and cranberries.
5. SWEET POTATOES. Sweet potatoes are rich in carotenoids, antioxidants that, like anthocyanins, boost immunity and minimize inflammation. Other good sources of carotenoids are deep orange, red, yellow and green fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, winter squash, red peppers, mangoes and papayas.
6. SPINACH. Spinach is rich in inflammation-fighting carotenoids, as well as immune-boosting vitamin E. Other greens that are great for immunity are kale, chard, turnip greens and mustard greens.
7. GARLIC. Like onions, garlic is rich in sulfur compounds that stimulate the immune system by boosting the activity of natural killer and T helper cells, which manage the immune system. Garlic is also a potent anti-inflammatory agent.
8. PINEAPPLE. Bromelain, found in the pineapple stem, is an enzyme that decreases inflammation and has some immune-enhancing effects. Pineapple is an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C.
9. GINGER. Fresh ginger root acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting COX-2 enzymes, part of the chemical pathway that produces inflammatory chemicals.
10. TURMERIC. Turmeric is the key component in curry, turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that has anti-inflammatory effects; like ginger, it works as a COX-2 inhibitor, says Reinagel.
We will continue to struggle with flares but it's possible to have less of them as we can support our 'healing system' to become virtually pain free!
WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR HEALING SYSTEM:
1. NURTURE. Nurture your body to give it quality fuel in order to sustain a strong immune system. Personally I chose a version of the Mediterranean Diet rich in fish, vegetables and olive oil which helped me. (olive oil, extra virgin, first cold press)
2. HUMOR. Keep a good sense of humor and laugh often, surround yourself with positive fun people. This is very important for your healing system; your endorphin levels will soar and the side effect is stress relief!
3. EXERCISE. Exercise helps us manage our weight and moods. It promotes better health in numerous ways. Exercise can be fun things, like dancing, biking, or even taking a belly dancing or tap class. Swimming is excellent, it's what I did for a year when I couldn't walk.
4. WATER. Drink ample amounts of pure, clean water to help your body rid itself of toxins and keeps organs working more efficiently. It's recommended by health professionals we drink 8 glasses. Do not substitute other beverages, the body needs clean, fresh water, preferably at room temperature so not to chill the organs.
I use Lemon slices in mine, which also helps encourage elimination.
5. VITAMIN D. Vitamin D is derived naturally from the sun. Nutritionists now suggest we need daily exposure to the healing rays of the sun. Early morning, until 10 and early evening after 3 is the best. Avoidance of the sun is not considered a healthy choice. Another option, Cod Liver Oil, get the best, I suggest Carlson's.
6. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL. Use 'First Cold Press' for salads and table use. For cooking, Coconut Oil which does not change to a killer fat during the heating process. Jeanne Calment, who holds the record for the longest confirmed lifespan, reportedly attributed her longevity and relatively youthful appearance to olive oil, which she said she poured on all her food and rubbed into her skin.
7. ORGANIC. Go Organic! Organic fruits and vegetables have more flavor, higher nutritional content and less toxins. Organic vegetables have a shorter storage life but they contain a higher amount of live plant enzymes necessary daily to aid our digestive process.
8. FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. Eat fruits and vegetables that are local when available and in season. Lightly cooking vegetables is advised. *Juice whenever possible. I recommend 4 days a week.
9. REDUCE MEAT. Reduce the amount of beef and pork, eat instead chicken, fish, eggs, beans and tofu for protein sources.
10. SUPPLEMENTS. Add quality supplements to your diet everyday to ensure you are receiving adequate amounts of all 50 required nutrients required by the body. I use Standard Process. When looking for a quality supplement it is important to know the manufacturing company produces products which meet or exceed established standards of excellence in supplement manufacturing.
11. LIFESTYLE. Lifestyle changes can make a big difference, get proper rest and enough quality sleep. Listen to your body, it will signal you with symptoms of distress when it's heading towards illness. Listen to it!
These are not short term changes but goals set everyday for the rest of our lives. Change is difficult, but remember, any change towards a healthful diet and lifestyle will be rewarded with reduced health challenges.
'Good Health To You!'
Photographs of Stephanie Moore - Wedding Photographer
© Copyright 2010 Sandy Guerriere. All Rights Reserved.
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