Inflammation is the body's normal response to injury or irritation. The four signs of inflammation , which you have seen many times are swelling, redness, heat, and pain.
Inflammation serves to bring more blood and immune activity to an injured area. Inflammation can also cause harm to the body if it doesn't end when it has served its purpose or occurs when there is no purpose.
Abnormal inflammation is the root of accelerated aging and many chronic diseases. Chronic inflammation causes injury to our tissues followed by attempts by the body to heal itself causing a vicious cycle. Conditions which are the result or worsened by chronic inflammation include Multiple Sclerosis, Chrohn’s/Colitis, arthritis, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, Lupus, Psoriasis and many more autoimmune illnesses.
For acute and or dangerous inflammatory events there are many powerful anti-inflammatory drugs available, such as steroids, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These treatments are not without significant side effects especially with long term or frequent use.
We have the power to change the amount of inflammation that occurs in the body by changing our diet. These changes may take 6-8 weeks to notice the results of the diet, but they will occur.
The primary steps of the anti-inflammatory diet are as follows:
ELIMINATE PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED AND REDUCE REFINED POLYUNSATURATED OILS (omega-6) (soybean, corn, sunflower, and safflower). We get enough of these naturally in the foods we eat. The goal is to reduce the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 oils to reduce inflammation. Since the American diet has an overabundance of polyunsaturated fats, reducing our intake can help this ratio.
ELIMINATE ALL TRANS FAT (Partially hydrogenated oil such including margarine, vegetable shortening, and all foods containing trans-fatty acids). These fats produce inflammatory hormones called prostaglandins. Instead of polyunsaturated oils, rely on monounsaturated, extra-virgin olive oil or unrefined canola oil for cooking and eating. Eat your fat in natural foods like nuts, nut butters, avocado, and seeds or seed oils
INCREASE INTAKE OF OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS by eating wild salmon, high omega-3 eggs, sardines, walnuts, freshly ground flax seeds or oil, greens, and soy foods. The omega-3 fats in these foods increase the production of anti-inflammatory hormones. You can also take fish oil supplements with DHA & EPA. Make sure the supplements are free of PCB’s and mercury.
INCLUDE PLENTY OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. Choose as many different colored foods as possible. Usually the darker and brighter the higher the antioxidants! Eat 6-9 servings or more per day of fruits and veggies and organic when possible.
EAT LOW GLICEMIC. Hi glycemic foods are foods which are easily digested by your body (quick energy rush) such as processed white flours, fluffy potatoes, sugar, and processed grains. Instead, choose beans, whole grains, whole grain breads, pastas, and small amounts of natural sugars from fruit or maple. The more fiber and longer it takes to break down in your body, the less inflammation that occurs. This slow absorption into the blood also prevents elevations in blood insulin causing inflammation, obesity, fat deposits in your arteries and diabetes.
REDUCE RED MEAT SERVING SIZES and choose grease fed organic when available.
ADD GINGER AND TURMERIC TO YOUR MEALS. These 2 substances are potent anti-inflammatory agents. (See our blog post on Medicinal Spices for more ideas.)
CHOOSE GREEN TEA AND RED WINE.
CONSUME FERMENTED FOODS AND DRINKS.
CONSIDER DARK CHOCOLATE (>70% COCOA) WHEN YOU HAVE A SWEET TOOTH. Dark chocolate has 6 times higher antioxidant content than the healthiest fruits/veggies.
Whenever possible, use organic foods and locally grown produce to avoid pesticides and loss of nutrient content.