Inflammation at the Root of Most Diseases
Inflammation has been found to be associated with just about every health condition. Researchers are furiously investigating chronic inflammation’s effects on health and possible preventive medical applications. Inflammation isn’t always bad; It is the body’s natural defense against damaged cells, viruses, bacteria, etc. It aims to remove these harmful or foreign invaders and heal itself.
There are two different types of inflammation. One type is acute inflammation; The other is chronic. While acute inflammation starts quickly and generally disappears in a few days, chronic inflammation can last for months or years as a result of failure to eliminate the cause and minor, repeated exposure to the agent.
A poor diet, stress, minor food allergies, a sedentary lifestyle and more can contribute to chronic inflammation. Let’s look at how a poor diet can contribute.
- Fried Foods.
- Refined Flour.
- Artificial Sweeteners.
- Artificial Additives.
- Saturated Fats.
- 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.
Why is it a new concept? Because modern medicine focuses on treating symptoms, not addressing the root cause of an issue. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Heart disease is inflammation of the arteries. Instead of taking a medication to reduce joint pain or lower cholesterol, we would be better served by reducing inflammation in the body.
Dr. Tanya Edwards, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine, writes that inflammation is now recognized as the “underlying basis of a significant number of diseases.”
Although inflammation has long been known to play a role in allergic diseases like asthma, arthritis and Crohn’s disease, Edwards says that Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and Parkinson’s disease may all be related to chronic inflammation in the body.
Dr. Edwards points out that anti-inflammatory foods such as fiber, fruits, vegetables and teas have been used to combat cancer, and vitamin E, curcumin, acetylcarnitine and catechin have had positive and preventative effects on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Foods high in antioxidants help to reduce damage caused by inflammation.
UCLA professor Greg Cole has been looking at how to control inflammation and possibly prevent Alzheimer’s disease with food substances such as curcumin, fruit flavonoids, omega-3 fatty acids and reservatrol.
The Mediterranean diet contains many anti-inflammatory foods and has been shown to lower cholesterol, triglycerides and reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The diet has also been linked to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Some of Perricone’s anti-inflammatory “super-foods” are:
- Acai fruit
- Allium vegetables (chives, garlic, leeks, onions, scallions and shallots)
- Beans and lentils
- Green foods
- Hot peppers
- Nuts and seeds
Dr. Andrew Weil has created a food pyramid of anti-inflammatory foods. A handful of the foods he recommends are:
A minimum of 4 to 5 servings per day of beets, carrots, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale), dark, leafy greens (collard greens, kale, spinach), onions, peas, salad greens, sea vegetables and squashes
3 to 4 servings per day of apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, nectarines, oranges, pears, pink grapefruit, plums, pomegranates, red grapefruit or strawberries.
Drink purified water, sparkling water or unsweetened tea throughout the day
Beans and Legumes
1 to 2 servings per day of Ansazi beans, adzuki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas or lentils
5 to 7 servings per day of avocados, expeller-pressed organic canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed, hazelnut oil, hemp seeds, high-oleic safflower or sunflower oils, sesame oil or walnut oil
Healthy Herbs and Spices
Unlimited amounts of basil, chili peppers, cinnamon, curry powder, garlic, ginger, rosemary, turmeric and thyme
1 to 2 servings per week of eggs, grass-fed meats, natural cheeses, organic poultry or yogurt
2 to 4 cups of green, oolong or white tea per day
1-2 glasses of organic red wine per day
Co-enzyme Q10, carotenoids, fish oil, selenium, vitamins C, D and E
Dark chocolate, fruit sorbet and unsweetened dried fruit
Though there are many grains, such as buckwheat and barley, that are considered anti-inflammatory and are also high in antioxidants and other nutrients, I don’t often recommend people consume large quantities of grains. Grains still turn to sugar in the body faster and are generally less nutrient dense than foods like vegetables.
How to Reduce Inflammation
- Eliminate all sources of inflammation from your diet. This includes rancid oils, sugars, conventional meats, pasteurized dairy, trans fats and sugars.
- Begin incorporating one new anti-inflammatory food to your diet each day. Don’t be afraid to try new things.
- If needed, supplement a healthy diet with 1 Tbsp. of cod liver oil.