Why You Should Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Swelling is an inflammatory response that occurs when our bodies suffer from an injury or from certain diseases. Swelling is the body's natural response to irritants and injury.
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 cause swell.
What to Eat on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
You might be thinking at this point, what can I eat? If you have a chronic illness (particularly an autoimmune disease) or you 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 is a great choice. 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 include 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, nutmeg and cinnamon are also very healthy. In fact, if you are inspired to eat an anti-inflammatory type diet, it is relatively simple.
Tips for Making This Diet Work
- 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 lean 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. For those with an autoimmune disease, this type of diet can make a big difference in the your pain level.
Foods That Cause Inflammation
The Western diet tends to be high in beef, pork, dairy products, soft drinks and chips. These foods 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.
Other processed foods may also be a problem, such as processed meats. Sandwich meats, wieners, sausages and many 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.
If you choose to follow an anti-inflammatory diet, the Mediterranean diet is thought to be a healthier choice. This diet includes fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, plus it limits unhealthy fats.
Inflammation and Disease
Low-grade, systemic, and chronic inflammation are more severe. Medical conditions that are longer lasting can cause long-term body changes. Autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma are common types of a chronic medical conditions linked to inflammation.
Chronic Diseases Associated With Inflammation
- 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.
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?
How Are Pain and Inflammation Linked?
Pain from injuries, or chronic illness, is actually the result of an electric signal sent from the nerves to the brain. This triggers the damaged tissue to release chemicals (prostaglandins) that cause tissue swelling. Since they also amplify the electrical signal, the pain is also increased.
How Do I Know When to Take Action?
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. This decreases the pain as well. Searching the internet will show you many sites that list foods which irritate the inflammatory process and also foods that reduce inflammation in the body. Sugar and many processed foods have been shown to increase inflammation.
There is no such thing as an anti-inflammatory diet, but there are foods believed to decrease inflammation. The Paleo Diet and the KETO diet are thought to help with inflammation in your body even though they include all types of meat.
Fresh turmeric is also an anti-inflammatory spice. 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.
Daily Supplements That 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) is used extensively in Europe for osteoarthritic pain.
- Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) has several functions that include anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) protects 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.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.