Combating Chronic Inflammation

 

Inflammation is a physical condition where a part of the body becomes swollen, reddened, hot and/or painful and can be attributed to the reaction from an injury, infection or allergy.  Inflammation is necessary in cases of acute trauma, but when it becomes chronic or widespread within the body, evidence shows that it can lead to a wide array of health concerns. 

 

Chronic inflammation has been found to be related to heart disease, diabetes, nutrient deficiencies, food allergies and intolerances, obesity, cancer, metabolic diseases and autoimmunity just to name a few of many conditions.  These health concerns are very serious complications of long term chronic inflammation, but there are ways to detect chronic inflammation before health is seriously or irreversibly damaged.  How do you know if you have chronic inflammation?  There are several symptoms that indicate the condition, including: ongoing pain in the body, allergies and/or asthma, high blood pressure or blood sugar imbalances, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constant fatigue and lethargy and skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

 

It is common practice to take anti-inflammatory steroid drugs or NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to relieve inflammation.  Steroid-based drugs can impair immune system function and lead to hormone imbalance in the body.  NSAIDS, which include ibuprofen (Motrin and Advil), aspirin, and naproxen (Aleve), affect the stomach lining and compromise gut health leading to a host of complications within the body.  Some NSAIDS have been shown to increase the risk of heart attack as well as cause swelling (the very thing they are meant to relieve), rashes, asthma, angioedema, hives and anaphylaxis.

 

The good news is that chronic inflammation can be controlled by eating a healthy diet, getting enough anti-inflammatory nutrients, and getting regular exercise.  Ensuring the body’s proper elimination of inflammatory toxins can minimize inflammation.  Some of the steps we can take to lessen chronic inflammation in the body include:

·      Eating a high-quality, organic diet free of synthetic hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and other toxic residues.

·      Eating foods like leafy, green vegetables, citrus and sea vegetables to support the liver and kidneys in the process of elimination.

·      Identify and avoid allergens in the diet.

·      Ensure appropriate amounts of exercise (at least 30 minutes 3 times per week).

·      Drink enough fluids (Half of one’s body weight in ounces).

·      Avoid inflammatory foods such as sugar, alcohol, caffeine, wheat and other gluten containing grains, refined carbohydrates, fried foods, hydrogenated oils, peanuts and peanut butter and conventionally produced meat and dairy.

 

There are specific foods and nutrients to eat in order to avoid or reverse chronic inflammation.  These include:

 

Antioxidants- antioxidants are compounds that give foods their color.  Plant foods that are rich in color are rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and carotenoids, which reduce oxidation in the body thus reducing inflammation.  Foods rich in antioxidants include: berries, grapes, nuts, dark green veggies, sea vegetables, sweet potatoes, carrots and green tea among many others.

 

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) – eating high-quality fat is crucial to reducing inflammation.  EFAs such as omega-3 fatty acids are fats that cannot be produced by the body thus must be obtained through the diet.  They are contained in highest concentration in cold-water fish such as cod, salmon, sardines, halibut and mackerel, walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds.

 

Fiber – fiber will help the body in eliminating stool within the appropriate amount of thus thus ensuring the body will not reabsorb toxins in the intestine.  High-fiber foods include legumes, seeds and nuts, fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole grains. 

 

Probiotic Foods – poor gut health can lead to inflammation which have effects such as insulin resistance, cancer and poor brain health.  Healthy gut bacteria is one of the most important factors of a healthy immune system. 

 

Turmeric – turmeric contains curcumin, which provides its yellow color and is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound.  Turmeric has been shown to improve symptoms in cases of Alzheimer’s and arthritis.  Turmeric can be supplemented in the diet at 400 to 600 mg per day or used liberally in cooking.

 

Garlic – garlic has anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties.  Garlic’s high sulfur content has shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. 

 

References:

 

Black, Jessica. (2006). The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book.  Alameda, CA: Hunter         House Inc.

Nielson, Diseree. (April 20, 2015). Probiotics and Chronic Inflammation: Balancing Our Bodies    Immune Response.  Retrieved From: http://www.alive.com/health/probiotics-and-chronic-inflammation/