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  • Inflammation, Diet and Health

    It is becoming common knowledge that chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious illnesses.

    Acute inflammation is necessary and usually occurs in response to injury and attack by germs. Acute Inflammation on the surface of the body manifests as local redness, heat, swelling and pain and is the body's way of getting more nourishment and more immune activity to an area that needs it. However, when inflammation persists (what is known as chronic inflammation), it damages the body and causes illness.

    A number of things that causes inflammation include processed food, sugar, hydrogenated and trans fats, stress, malnutrition, obesity, pollution, heavy metals and excessive exercise.

    Dietary choices play a big role in contributing to inflammation so being conscious of the food you eat is a big starting point in dealing with chronic inflammation and reducing the risk of long-term diseases.

    Here are some dietary tips that can help prevent and combat inflammation:

    • Omega-3 fatty acids: They have an anti-inflammatory effect and are found in oily fish, walnuts, flax, hemp, and to a smaller degree in sea vegetables.
    • In the body, chemical reactions between the sugars and protein produce pro-inflammatory compounds called AGEs (advanced glycation end products). You can regulate this process by keeping blood sugar levels low and stable, which means eliminating bread, white potatoes, crackers, chips and other snack and processed foods. Instead, eat more whole grains, beans, sweet potatoes, winter squashes and other vegetables and temperate fruits such as berries, cherries, apples, and pears instead of tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapple, mango and papaya.
    • As for protein, eat less meat and poultry, both of which contain pro-inflammatory fats, and include more vegetable protein such as beans, lentils and other legumes, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. If you eat fish, choose the oily varieties that give you omega-3s (wild Alaska salmon, sardines, herring, and black cod).

     Some specific foods to eat to combat chronic inflammation are:

    • Blueberries and cranberries: they are both very high in antioxidants which help with inflammation.
    • Broccoli: a highly nutritious vegetable that contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer phytonutrients, which help relieve inflammation and get rid of potentially carcinogenic compounds. Broccoli are also high in vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant.
    • Ginger: contains antioxidant properties, which help protect your cells from inflammation
    • Avocado: they protect your cells as they contains various anti-inflammatory nutrients such as carotenoid antioxidants, vitamins C and E, minerals such as manganese, selenium and zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and many other beneficial compounds. Indeed avocados are known as an anti-inflammation superstar.
    • Turmeric: The active ingredient in turmeric is called Curcumin and it has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Turmeric has been hailed as a great spice for relieving arthritis pain.
    • Chia seeds: these are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which as mentioned, are some of the best and most powerful anti-inflammatory compounds found in food.

     Finally, meditating regularly and incorporating a daily exercise regime helps in fighting chronic inflammation, as a calm mind equals a calm body and vice versa.

     

    Sahar Rouhani

    October 1, 2014

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