INFLAMMATION AND DIET… What is the link?

Did you know that chronic, low-grade inflammation can turn into a silent killer that contributes to cardiovas­cular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and other conditions? And If you can reduce inflammation in your body you can reduce your risk of many chronic and dread diseases?

What is inflammation?

Your immune system becomes activated when your body recognizes anything that is foreign (like an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical). This often triggers a process called inflammation. Short bouts of inflammation targeting truly threatening invaders is important to protect your health.

But when  inflammation persists, day in and day out, that’s when inflammation can become your enemy.

Chronic inflammation can damage healthy cells, tissues and organs. Many major diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and Alzheimer’s, have been linked to chronic inflammation.

The following conditions also involve inflammation:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • psoriasis
  • asthma
  • eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • colitis
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • Lupus
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • metabolic syndrome

But did you know that what you eat can affect inflammation? Food can either improve or trigger inflammation.

Inflammatory Foods:

We all know…unhealthy foods contribute to weight gain, which is itself a risk factor for inflammation. Yet several studies indicate, even after taking obesity into account, that the link between foods and inflammation remained, suggesting weight gain isn’t the sole driver.

Clearly certain food components or ingredients have independent effects on inflammation over and above increased caloric intake.

Not surprisingly, the same foods that are generally considered bad for our health, including sodas and refined carbohydrates, as well as red meat and processed meats, contribute to inflammation.

The main culprit is processed food. All processed foods can cause inflammation. They can alter the bacteria that live in our gut, and that alteration has the ability to interact with our immune system and eventually trigger it. But there are other inflammatory foods that often form a big part of the western diet.

Foods that cause inflammation include:

  • refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries.
  • French fries and other fried foods.
  • soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • margarine, shortening, and lard

Stop Inflammation: anti-inflammatory foods:

On the flip side are beverages and foods that reduce inflammation, and with it, chronic disease.

Studies have confirmed that one of the best ways to combat  inflammation lies not in the medicine cabinet, but in the refrigerator.  By following an anti-inflammatory diet you can fight off inflammation for good.

An anti-inflammatory diet favors foods that are rich in antioxidants over those that increase the production of free radicals.

This includes:

-omega 3 fatty acids, which are present in oily fish. May help reduce the levels of inflammatory proteins in the body.

-fiber can also have this effect.

-certain fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, and leafy greens that are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols, protective compounds.

-nuts are also associated with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

-coffee which contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds, may protect against inflammation.

An anti-inflammatory diet should include these foods:

tomatoes
olive oil
green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
nuts like almonds and walnuts
fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.

It is worth remembering:

-no single food will boost a person’s health. It is important to include a variety of anti-inflammatory foods.

-fresh, simple ingredients are best. -processing can change the nutritional content of foods.

-check the labels of premade foods. While cocoa in itself is anti-inflammatory, for example, the products that contain cocoa often also contain sugar and fat.

-a colourful plate will provide a range of antioxidants and other nutrients. Be sure to vary the colors of fruits and vegetables.

Take note that the anti-inflammatory diet is not a specific regimen but rather a style of eating. If you’re looking for an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the TLC-Program which eliminates the main inflammatory culprits and teaches a healthy balanced way of eating fresh natural anti-inflammatory foods.