Inflammation is believed to cause virtually every health problem, including acne, Alzheimer’s, digestive complications and obesity. In fact, several studies have attested to this theory. Despite the negative effects, there is also a positive side to inflammation.
Namely, when your body detects an illness or injury, the immune system goes into full throttle, sending lymphatic fluid, white blood cells, and T cells to the scene. Likewise, blood and water flood in to eliminate toxins and flush the area. This action by antibodies leads to increased circulation, swelling, and even pain, all of which actually help your body to defend itself against infection and illness.
Inflammation happens internally to combat infections and disease. It also happens externally in response to bruises, bumps, scratches, and scrapes.
This type of inflammation—also known as acute inflammation—is a quick immune response that ends as soon as the injury has healed. So what does it have to do with food? Research suggests that eating the wrong kinds of foods also causes inflammation, not the acute variety, but the chronic kind—and that, by definition, doesn’t go away. Over time, chronically inflamed organs and tissues start to degenerate, toxins build up, and our organs are depleted of vital nutrients. All of this eventually takes its toll, potentially damaging the intestines, heart, kidneys, pancreas, joints, skin, and bones.
“A diet that’s high in inflammatory foods causes a constant, low-grade inflammation in the body,” says Elson Haas, MD, author of The False Fat Diet. “If the immune system is preoccupied fighting this constant inflammation, it’s not as able to help protect the body against other things that can pop up, such as abnormal cells in breast or prostate tissue.” According to Haas, “modern diseases are merely symptoms of the underlying issue of inflammation, which is just the body trying to heal itself; the question is, ‘from what?’”
THE DIET THAT HARMS THE BODY
Generally, the foods we eat determine the health status of our body. Thanks to the high-stress Western lifestyles, many of us have been condemned to eating packaged or fast foods that contain no vital nutrients and are loaded with pro-inflammatory ingredients such as sugars, trans fats, processed meats, refined starches, hydrogenated oils, as well as refined sweeteners.
Regular consumption of these inflammation-inducing foods raises blood sugar and can as well cause your body to stop responding to fat-regulating hormones.
Barbara Rowe, the author of Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Health, says that modern convenience foods actually confuse the body:
“Since these foods are so new to the human diet—most having been introduced only in the last 60 to 70 years—inflammation is a natural immune response to deal with them.”
However, even if you’re not into unhealthy foods and fats, you may still have to pay attention to the ratio of good fats you consume. You should realize that with packaged convenience foods, we usually get about 30:1 ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory and too much of them can lead to low-grade inflammation in the body.
“This inflammation prompts the oxidizing of the LDL, or bad cholesterol, which then makes it more sticky and more likely to adhere to the artery walls,which leads to heart disease.”
Hence, you need to take more of omega-3 fatty acids to counteract the damage caused by omega-6s and also prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
OTHER CAUSES OF INFLAMMATION
Inflammation can also be occasioned by an immune reaction or allergy to various foods. Haas says,
“You might be eating healthy foods, but if your body has an allergic reaction to one of these, an immune response will trigger inflammation—usually signaled by gas, bloating, and pain.”
According to some dietitians, the nightshade family of plants— tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes -may actually worsen an inflammation. These vegetables contain solanine, an alkaloid that can trigger joint pain in some individuals, especially those with arthritis.
Acid-alkaline imbalance in the body also causes inflammation. According to experts, an acidic pH results in toxicity that creates an inconducive environment for the healing of inflamed cells. To maintain an alkaline environment, you’re advised to avoid refined foods, black tea, coffee, sugar, fruit juice, and alcohol. Likewise, you should moderate your intake of dairy, meats, fruits, and grains; and maximize your intake of vegetables, beans, and spices.
Foods To Calm Inflammation
Luckily, we as a whole have admittance to the ideal remedy for irritation: mitigating sustenances. These sustenances not just decrease incessant irritation in the body, they likewise give the key building pieces to coming to and keeping up a solid weight and having more vitality. Take a stab at including one or a greater amount of the accompanying nourishments to your eating routine:
Hot Peppers: The capsaicin found in cayenne, serrano, jalapeño, and every single hot bean stew serves as a characteristic other option to calming drugs. Capsaicin attempts to restrain the COX-2 compound, a known reason for aggravation in joint pain and other incendiary sicknesses in the body.
Apples and Onions: These contain quercetin, a characteristic histamine inhibitor that helps the body battle natural sensitivities—a reason for aggravation. Remember that quercetin is found in the skin of apples, so purchase natural and eat them entirety.
Pineapple: This sweet tropical organic product contains a mitigating compound called bromelain, which contains catalysts that have been demonstrated to stifle aggravation and agony in the body by minimizing swelling. Bromelain loses its calming esteem when warmed, so go for crisp, entire pineapple rather than the warmth handled canned assortment.
Dark, Leafy Green Vegetables: These good-for-everything veggies contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 that has similar anti-inflammatory benefits as the omega-3s found in fish.
Flaxseeds, Walnuts, Pumpkinseeds: Like dark, leafy greens, these nuts and seeds also contain all-important omega-3s. Choose raw nuts, not toasted, because roasting temperatures destroy omega-3s. For a “toasted” nut taste, soak nuts in water overnight and use a dehydrator to give them a crunchy bite.
Oily, Cold-Water Fish: Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are all packed with omega-3s, which reduce the production of pro-inflammatory hormones in the body. Remember to choose wild Pacific or Alaskan salmon, or organically and sustainably farm-raised varieties, which have been shown to have the lowest mercury levels. Also keep in mind that most of the omega-3 fats in these fish are in the “brown fat” near the skin. Scrape it onto your fork, or make sure to eat the whole fish, skin and all. Gentle poaching and quick searing are good cooking methods for keeping omega-3s intact.
Olives and Olive Oil: The oleic acid in olives and olive oil contain omega-9 fatty acids, which help omega-3s do their anti-inflammatory job. Skip over “light” olive oil, and go for strong, green, and unrefined varieties. And keep in mind that raw olive oil has the most anti-inflammatory properties; heating can lessen its nutritional benefits.
- Foods that Heal
Hot Peppers • Apples • Onions • Pineapple • Dark, Leafy Vegetables • Flaxseeds • Walnuts • Pumpkinseeds • Fish • Olives • Olive Oil
- Foods to Steer Clear of
Bagels • Baked Goods • Pastries • Fried Foods • Margarine • Sugar • Snack Foods • Soda • Jams • Hard Cheeses
Moroccan Chicken With Olives
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 cup chopped parsley plus a little more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon mild paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon agave nectar or sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup chicken stock or water
6 to 8 chicken thighs, bone in, with skins
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (check sodium content of stock)
2 tablespoons olive oil plus another tablespoon for drizzling
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon zest (grated peel)
1/2 cup Gaeta or Kalamata olives, pits in
– Mix the parsley, onion, salt, spices, and agave nectar in a medium bowl.
– In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Then, add chicken in a single layer and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until it turns slightly brown.
– Add the onion and stock mixture and bring it to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low and cover before cooking gently for 20 minutes until your chicken is tender with no traces of pink flesh.
– Place your chicken on the platter. Then, turn the heat to medium-high and allow the sauce to simmer for 2-3 minutes until reduced slightly. Afterward, remove the pan from the heat before stirring in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and olives.
– Spoon your sauce over the chicken. Then drizzle with olive oil before garnishing with the remaining parsley.
– Each serving constitutes 297 calories, 22 g fat, 72 mg cholesterol, 5 g saturated fat, 8 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 18 g protein, and 459 mg sodium.
Green and Gold Salad
3 tablespoons unfiltered honey, softened if hard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon walnut oil
2 teaspoons lemon zest (grated peel)
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Pinch ground nutmeg, pinch salt
Dash cinnamon, dash ground ginger
1 orange or medium grapefruit
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
6 cups baby spinach
Pinch cinnamon (for garnish)
1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts
– Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small dish until emulsified.
– Arrange the spinach on a large platter and top with the red onion rounds.
– Remove the stem and opposite end of the orange with a sharp knife. Lay the orange flat side down, and slice the skin off in 1- or 2-inch sections from top to bottom, taking care not to remove too much of the fruit. Turn the orange so the flat ends face to the sides. Slice the orange into 1/4-inch rounds, and quarter each round.
– Arrange the oranges in a decorative fashion over the spinach and onions. Drizzle the salad generously with the dressing, and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts and cinnamon.
Nutrition info per serving: 162 calories; 9 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 3 g protein; 22 g carbohydrates; 3 g fiber; 38 mg sodium
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 canned sardine fillet
1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
– Puree all the ingredients in a food processor or blender
Nutrition information per serving: 160.4 calories; 0.1 g fiber; 0.7 g saturated fat; 15 g fat; 2.8 mg cholesterol; 6.1 g carbohydrates; 0.6 g protein; 712.9 mg sodium
Serves 6 to 8
1 cup Greek or regular plain, unsweetened yogurt
4 to 6 tablespoons agave nectar
1 heaping cup chopped dates
1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves
4 cups diced fresh, ripe pineapple
1 cup coconut flakes
– Mix the agave nectar and yogurt in a dish
– Put the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl before gently blending in the yogurt. Leave it thus for about 10 minutes for flavors to develop before serving.
Nutrition information per serving (based on 6 servings): 228.1 calories; 4.9 g saturated fat; 6.4 g fat; 3.1 g protein; 5.3 mg cholesterol; 5.1 g fiber; 44.3 g carbohydrates; 24.2 mg sodium