Did you know that inflammation has been linked to many chronic and dangerous health conditions? This includes Alzheimer’s disease, certain types of cancers, joint problems, and even heart disease.
But what exactly is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s response to something harmful or irritating. It is part of the body’s immune response system, the body’s effort to heal itself. Inflammation can sometimes be beneficial, in cases such as a joint becoming sprained and the tissues need to be protected. But there are times when inflammation can be harmful, such as when the body has an existing inflammation, and more inflammation is created in response to that existing inflammation. Then it can become damaging, chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation can also occur due to a number of factors such as stress, toxins, lack of exercise, or a genetic predisposition. The food choices we make can also play a significant role with chronic inflammation. Dr. Andrew Weil is a leading expert on the topic, and he suggests 5 dietary tips to reduce inflammation within the body:
- Eat vegetables: at least five servings per day (organic, if possible)
- Choose produce that is full of phytonutrients and antioxidants by choosing produce in the full spectrum of colors – think ‘rainbow’ of colors.
- Fiber: aim to have 40 grams of fiber per day
- As opposed to animal protein, increase your intake of vegetable-based protein such as soy and legumes
- Oils and Fats: choose good sources such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocados, and fish. Avoid saturated fat from animal sources (except for fish)
Here are 4 tips, from Naturopathic Doctor Jessica Black:
- It is best to eat whole foods whenever possible
- What to avoid: sugar, hydrogenated fats and oils, and processed foods
- A guide for meals: about 40% from good carbohydrates, about 30% from healthy fats, and about 30% protein
- Focussing on how your body feels is more important than counting calories
Some experts who support the concept of the anti-inflammatory diet argue that most westerners eat too many foods that are rich in Omega-6 fatty acids and not enough foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 causes an inflammatory response because of the way it breaks down in your body. Omega-3 fatty acids do not stimulate the same response and actually have an anti-inflammatory effect.
How to minimize Omega-6-rich Foods:
- eat less meats
- elminate processed foods
- reduce or eliminate sunflower, corn and cottonseed oils
- reduce egg yolks
How to increase Omega-3-rich Foods:
- add flax seeds to your diet
- add chia seeds to your diet
- eat walnuts
- eat cold-water fish once or twice per week
- take high-quality fish oil supplements
Many medical experts agree that dietary changes can heal many health problems – including inflammation, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. By eating whole foods, choosing healthy fats, and avoiding processed foods you can increase your energy, increase your quality of life, and heal inflammation.
Dr. Jessica Black, a Naturopathic doctor
Written by Cathy Ormon – with some content used under license, © 2012 Sprouted Content, LLC
Copyright © 2013 Cathy Ormon – All Rights Reserved