Inflammation and Illness. Are Your Foods to Blame?
Inflammation is our body’s way to to protect itself by removing harmful toxins, irritants, or pathogens. Inflammation is thought to be the underlying cause of many diseases including but not limited to arthritis and heart disease.
The typical Western diet is characterized by a high intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, high-protein, high-sugar and excess salt intake with frequent consumption of processed foods- with little fiber. All of these foods contribute to inflammation and promote obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.
Signs you may have chronic inflammation:
- Ongoing, irritating pain in the body (especially in the joints)
- Allergies or asthma
- High blood pressure
- Uncontrolled blood sugar
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (constipation or diarrhea)
- Constant fatigue or lethargy
- Skin problems or red, bloodshot eyes
Foods that promote inflammation and should be avoided:
- Corn and Soybean oils
- Pasteurized dairy
- Refined carbohydrates
- Conventional meat
- Trans fats
Reversing the effects of inflammation
Diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease have been positively impacted by anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits and vegetables, vitamin E, curcumin, and omega-3 fatty acids. Foods high in antioxidants also reduce damage caused by inflammation.
The Mediterranean diet contains many anti-inflammatory foods and is known for the high consumption of fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and moderate consumption of protein (lots of fish). Research has shown individuals who follow this diet have lower cholesterol, triglycerides and reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The diet also has been linked to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Anti-inflammatory foods to add to your diet:
- Fruits (apple, lemon, avocado, coconut, berries etc)
- Allium vegetables (chives, garlic, onions, scallions, and shallots)
- Green foods (brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, spinach etc.)
- Root vegetables (sweet potato, parsnip, turnip, radish etc.)
- Fermented foods (sauerkraut, kombucha)