Anti Inflammatory Foods - Natural Ways to Reduce Inflammation
Recently, I’ve been experimenting with anti inflammatory foods to help with my inflammation. I never really paid a lot of attention to the association between diet and inflammation before, but since I’ve been having so much pain and swelling in my right knee, I’ve been taking note of which foods help reduce the chronic inflammation and which foods make it worse. At times, my bad knee swells to the size of a basketball – seriously. I also have foraminal stenosis, and any extra inflammation along my spine will cause me a lot of pain and other symptoms. The nerve damage in my hands also gets worse, of course, when inflamed. I’ve often wondered why the pain in my hands, neck, shoulders, lower back, and bad knee comes and goes, and I’ve even asked my doctor about it. She said anything that increases the swelling is going to produce more pain, more numbness, and more tingling. She mentioned overuse and physical strain, but sometimes the symptoms are worse even when I haven’t been physically active, so activity can’t be the only answer. I’m totally convinced that there are anti inflammatory foods that can help reduce inflammation, along with foods that cause inflammation and make it worse.
What is Inflammation
Let’s begin this section with a question: What is inflammation? Although it can be painful, inflammation is part of the body’s defense mechanism. It can be caused by viral infection, bacterial infection, parasites, alcohol, irritants, foreign bodies, stress, and injuries. When the body is “attacked,” blood vessels dilate, bringing extra blood and fluids to the site. Included with this flow of fluids are defender cells to help in the healing process.
Sometimes the body gets confused and reacts negatively to healthy tissue, incorrectly identifying it as a harmful irritant. When this happens, the condition is referred to as an autoimmune disease. Examples of autoimmune diseases and disorders include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, allergies, Type 1 Diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and psoriasis. Some health care professionals also believe that fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disorder.
Inflammation can be both good and bad, and it can be painful. The pain might be caused by the pressure the extra fluid is placing on nearby tissues, or by the chemicals released in the process that affect nerve endings. Obviously, in the case of autoimmune diseases, the body’s response mechanism is “out of whack” and has a negative effect on tissues. There’s also a difference in acute inflammation and chronic inflammation. I’ll discuss that in more detail in the two sections below.
What Is Inflammation:
Acute inflammation usually begins very quickly after harmful bacteria or parasites enter the body or after an injury occurs. Changes take place in cells that are already present, and the area is flooded with helpful defender cells that fight off harmful elements. In most cases, acute inflammation lasts for only days or weeks. It has a specific job to do, and that job is either done, and the area heals, or an abscess forms. When the body can’t heal injuries properly, fibrosis occurs, and scars form. If the acute inflammation persists, it can turn into chronic inflammation.
The five signs of acute inflammation on the skin or surface are pain; redness, caused by increased blood; immobility; swelling, caused by extra fluid; and heat, due to increased blood flow.
Chronic inflammation is usually caused by foreign bodies, certain pathogens, or a viral infection. As I’ve already mentioned, inflammation can also be caused by autoimmune actions, resulting in chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation develops more slowly than acute inflammation, but it lasts longer. With this type of inflammation, the presence of helpful cells changes gradually, and destruction occurs. Macrophages, cells that digest pathogens, are present in large numbers. The macrophages begin to release toxins that can destroy the body’s own tissues. Macrophages can also help cancer cells grow and tumors progress.
To put it in simple terms, with chronic inflammation, the body doesn’t know when to turn off the immune system. The constant supply of immune cells affects otherwise healthy tissues and causes cell mutations that sometimes lead to cancer or other unhealthy conditions. Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, depression, and cardiovascular disease are all linked to chronic inflammation.
Natural Anti Inflammatory
What is a natural anti inflammatory? A natural anti inflammatory is a substance that reduces inflammation without drugs. Well, actually, all natural anti inflammatories aren’t “substances.” For example, mild to moderate exercise can reduce inflammation. The stress hormone cortisol is also linked to inflammation, so reducing stress can reduce inflammation.
Of course, there are plenty of anti inflammatory agents in the drug category. These include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, Celebrex, and corticosteroids, including Flonase, Nasonex, hydrocortisone, and prednisone. Unfortunately, like most drugs, anti inflammatory medications can have some nasty side effects. Before paying a visit to your pharmacy, try using natural anti inflammatory aides, instead. You can start easily by incorporating more anti inflammatory foods into your diet, and by avoiding or at least decreasing the amount of foods that cause inflammation. In addition to following an anti inflammatory diet, you might also want to try dietary supplements. Before taking any anti inflammatory supplements, check with your physician first. Some might interfere with your medications.
Anti Inflammatory Foods
Supposedly, the following are anti inflammatory foods that will decrease the amount of inflammation in your body. To be more specific, I’m talking about targeting chronic inflammation. To be honest, I haven’t experimented with all these foods. I have noticed that when I consume more of some of these suggestions, I have less inflammation. But whether the decreased symptoms are due to my consuming more of these foods or from consuming fewer foods that cause inflammation, I’m not sure.
Sour Cherry Juice
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Grape Seed Oil
Low Fat Yogurt
Eggs from Free-Range Hens
Beef From Free-Range, Grass-Fed Cattle
Foods That Cause Inflammation
Yes, readers, there are foods that cause inflammation! I can really tell a big difference in my pain and swelling when I avoid sugar and breads made with white flour. Practically any simple carbohydrate food will make my inflammation worse, including white potatoes and regular pasta. Try doing without these foods for a few days to see if you notice a difference in the way you feel. I often follow a low carb diet, and it works pretty well with an anti inflammatory diet.
Burnt or Charred Foods
Foods Cooked at High Temperatures
Refined White Flour
Anti Inflammatory Herbs
There are anti inflammatory herbs, too, along with some spices. Instead of listing herbs and spices separately, I’m listing them together. Most of these can be used as tasty ingredients in a wide variety of dishes, so using them could be a good start in eating an anti inflammatory diet.
Anti Inflammatory Supplements
Some of the anti inflammatory supplements included in this section are actually herbs, but they’re not typical culinary herbs used by most Americans, so I’ve put them in this category. The following anti inflammatory supplements might be available in capsules, tablets, liquids, or as teas.
Flaxseed Oil Capsules
Alpha Lipoic Acid
St. John’s Wort
Indian Frankincense (boswellia)
White Willow Bark Extract
Maritime Pine Bark
Anti Inflammatory Supplements:
Anti Inflammatory Diet
If you have inflammation, following an anti inflammatory diet could be beneficial. According to the research I’ve done, not every anti inflammatory works the same for everyone. I guess each body is a little different, not to mention individual food allergies. Obviously, for example, even though walnuts might reduce inflammation in most people, it certainly wouldn’t have a desirable effect for someone with a walnut allergy. Try incorporating new anti inflammatory foods into your diet gradually. If you’re concerned about food allergies, add the new foods one at a time to see how you tolerate each one. I definitely suggest cutting down on foods that cause inflammation, however, as an important part of an anti inflammatory diet. These “bad” foods seem to be pretty negatively consistent for just about everyone. By paying close attention to what you eat, by getting regular exercise, and by relieving stress, you can hopefully get your inflammation under control.