Eat Healthier with Anti-inflammatory Food
Swelling is an inflammatory response when our bodies suffer from an injury or from certain diseases. It is the body's natural response to irritants and injury. This is the natural way the body heals. As an example, breaking a bone causes a biochemical response, which improves blood flow to the area. The body sends more white blood cells to ward off infection. Most of us have sprained an ankle or a wrist, so we know exactly what inflammation is, as these injuries swell.
Low-grade, systemic and chronic inflammation is a different situation. Medical conditions that are longer lasting can cause long-term body changes. Asthma, Autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma are common types of a chronic medical conditions that last long term.
What Happens to the Body
How Does Pain Work?
Pain from injuries or chronic illness is actually the result of an electric signal sent from the nerves to the brain and the damaged tissue also releases chemicals (prostaglandins) that cause tissue swelling. Since they also amplify the electrical signal, the pain is also increased.
Inflammation with Ashtma
Many diseases are associated with inflammation, which include:
- Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart Disease
- Bowel diseases, inflammatory bowel disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Gum disease
- Some types of cancers
Common Irritants that Cause Inflammation
Irritants include smoking, excessive alcohol intake, high-fat diets or perhaps not receiving enough healthy nutrients. A great deal of research is ongoing to fully understand the role of chronic inflammation and how to control it. Certainly cholesterol lowering drugs are one way doctors try to control the risk of heart disease and strokes, but what about all the other diseases connected to inflammation?
Time to Make a Change?
If you are suffering from any chronic disease, it may be very helpful to eat anti-inflammatory foods. This is not a cure, but they may decrease the inflammation, thus the pain. Searching the internet will show you many sites that list foods which aggravate the inflammatory process and also foods that reduce inflammation in the body.
There is no such thing as an anti-inflammatory diet, but there are foods believed to decrease inflammation. If we shun foods that we know cause increased inflammation and eat the healthier choices, it stands to reason that we will probably live a healthier life.
Foods Causing Inflammation
The Western diet tends to be high in beef, pork, butter, dairy products, soft drinks and chips, just to name a few foods that are thought to cause inflammation. Some clinicians believe people have food sensitivities (allergens) to particular foods, which also cause inflammation. The most common allergic foods are milk, dairy products, wheat, corn, eggs, beef, yeast and soy.
Processed foods may also be a problem, such as processed meats. Sandwich meats, weiners, sausages and some other foods contain nitrites, which are linked to chronic illnesses and inflammation. Foods with high sugar content cause oxidative stress in the cells, which also causes inflammation.
The Mediterrean diet is thought to be a healthier choice if you choose to follow an anti-inflammatorty diet.
Anti-inflammatory- How to Eat Healthier
You might be thinking at this point, what is left to eat? If you have a chronic illness or just want to eat a healthier diet there are some good choices left. Changing the way you cook and eat may take time, but it can be done.
Anti-inflammatory foods include fish, particularly oily fish like salmon or trout that is high in omega vitamins. Other foods include, lean poultry, seafood, legumes, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. Other foods that are considered to be anti-inflammatory choices are fresh fruits, berries, beans and legumes, soy products, spices and herbs and whole grains. These include barley, bulgur, wild rice, millet, quinoa, rye, wheat berries, buckwheat and whole wheat. Use canola or olive oil for salad dressings or cooking. Many spices like ginger and cinnamon are also very healthy.
Daily Supplements to Reduce Inflammation
- Fish oil supplements – the Omegas
- Vitamin C 200 mg. daily
- Vitamin 400 IU
- Selenium 200 micrograms (organic)
- Vitamin D
- Mixed Carotenoids 10,000 – 15,000 IU
- Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) –may improve rheumatoid arthritis pain
- Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) – Used extensively in Europe for osteoarthritic pain
- Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) – Has several functions that include anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) – Protect the liver
Nonsteroidial anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are often prescribed for chronic inflammation. Greater than 30 million Americans use these medications for arthritis, sprains, headaches and many other discomforts. They reduce swelling and lower fevers.
Some of the most common anti-inflammatory drugs are aspirin, ibuprofen, Aleve and Naprosyn. These medications are irritating to the stomach, so they are not really a long term solution. They should be taken with food.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tips From Dr. Andrew Weil
Summary – Anti-inflammatory Diet
If you are inspired to eat an anti-inflammatory type diet, it is relatively simple.
- Consume generous portions of vegetables and fruits
- Use healthy fats, such as canola and olive oil
- Snack on nuts and seeds
- Eat fish regularly, at least once a week
- Consume small amounts of red meat
- Enjoy a glass of red wine occasionally
It just may be that eating a healthier diet will give you more energy, since it should reduce inflammation and pain. In addition, the healthier diet may prevent a heart attack or a stroke.
© 2013 Pamela Oglesby
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