by Kathleen Cole ND
The Inflammatory response is your body's reaction to an injury from a wound, a toxin or an infection. It is an amazing orchestration of increasing blood flow, capillary permeability, WBC production and the release of inflammatory chemicals into the affected area. In most cases this normal activity repairs the wound or resolves the infection however if there is a "silent" insidious inflammatory condition such as periodontal disease that smolders away at a low level or the continuous release of inflammatory cytokines from visceral fat or perhaps a constant exposure to toxic chemicals this can set the stage for chronic inflammation.
Many chronic diseases involve this silent inflammation that involves metabolic changes and feedback systems that perpetuate the damaging effect on tissue and organs. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, alzheimers, osteoarthritis and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, hashimoto's, lupus etc are all chronic inflammatory disorders that release a constant low level of inflammatory chemicals.
Diet and lifestyle play a major role in turning on and off the genes that trigger inflammation. The epigenetic (the environment that influences your genetic makeup) is modifiable through an Anti-Inflammatory food diet and lifestyle. A diet high in processed foods, toxic trans fats, refined sugars a high ratio of omega 6 to omega 3, low in plant phytonutrients and or food sensitivities will keep your immune system on high alert. Add a leaky gut and an unhealthy balance of gut microbes and the flame becomes difficult to extinguish.
Studies have shown that the immune response to sugar and junk food is immediate and can last over several days. A lot of oxidative damage can be elicited during this time. These foods are inherently addictive and I believe unethically manufactured by "Big Food" corporations for that purpose. Changing your eating patterns can be a big challenge and requires a holistic approach. Providing you have a strong immune system a healthy digestion, manage your stress and get quality sleep you may be able to deal with the occasional diversion, especially if you are happy and guilt free while doing it.
Adding anti-inflammatory spices and herbs to your daily diet can be helpful in reducing the inflammatory effect of foods such as chicken, lamb or certain whole grains. For example stewed chicken with cumin seed, turmeric and ginger or brown rice with seaweeds, miso and ginger.
Food preparation is also important in reducing the inflammatory effect of foods. ( see my article on "Healthiest Cooking Methods and Cookware" It is critical to avoid high temperature cooking such as frying and especially deep frying, charbroiling, grilling and b'queing as when oil is heated to smoke point it is damaged and releases toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's) into the food.
The basics are:
1. Consume fats with a healthy ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 and avoid bad fats ( trans fats found in processed foods, margarines and too much saturated especially from non-grass fed meat) One such study showed that Omega 3 PUFA's , long chain fatty acids was associated with reduction gene expression of proinflammatory cytokines with an increase in anti-inflammatory cytokines and cell membrane fluidity. A 2-3.5 oz fatty fish twice per week reduced SX joint swelling and pain.
2. Eat low glycemic foods and avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar
3. Eat unlimited amounts of high antioxidant fruits and vegetables
4. Eat a high fibre diet mainly from whole fruits and vegetables
5. prepare meals with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices.
6. Calorie reduction and periodic fasting can lower inflammatory markers
The Anti-Inflammatory Food Guide provides an essential tool for using the power of food with an abundance of phytonutrients, healthy essential fatty acid and antioxidants to reduce inflammation and balance the immune system. There is numerous research that demonstrates the vital role of nutrition in preventing chronic disease.