Inflammation is a word that’s frequently used but poorly understood. Inflammation is irritating chemicals that are released by your immune cells, producing redness, swelling, and pain. Short-term inflammation is necessary-when you suffer an injury or an infection, immune cells release substances called prostaglandins to go to the area and begin the healing process. However, when the process continues, it becomes chronic. Chronic inflammation is unseen by the eye and is a killer, leading to accelerated aging, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes type 2, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke, and cancer. Gas, bloating, and heartburn are all signs of an inflamed digestive tract. Chronic inflammation can also prevent fat loss. Many of my clients take pain medication, either over-the-counter or prescription, and these medications have a laundry list of deleterious side-effects. More importantly, they don’t cure the problem, they just cover it up. High cholesterol is an example. The liver produces and secretes cholesterol, and when it secretes large amounts, it is in response to inflammation somewhere in the body. Statins may blunt the liver’s response, but is that really correcting the problem? I think not. Here are some ways to lower the inflammatory response. 1). Omega-3 fats: The fats you eat are converted into prostaglandins, and different types of prostaglandins either increase or decrease inflammation. Eating a diet rich in Omega-3 fats leads to a decreased production of inflammatory prostaglandins. The best food sources are oily fish, walnuts, flaxseed, eggs from hens given omega-3 rich feed, and grass-fed meats. Research on taking omega-3 supplements is sketchy thus far. 2). Slow-digested carbs, lower on the glycemic index, produce a more gradual rise in blood sugar. Lentils, berries, and beans can reduce inflammation, especially in those carrying extra pounds. 3). Eat antioxidant-rich foods. When your cells do whatever their particular job is, they emit free radicals, which are free electrons that are looking to do a little mischief. Antioxidants, along with oxygen, act like a sponge to soak up these electrons, making them harmless, and quieting the immune system. Antioxidants are abundant in fruits and vegetables with rich hues; berries, dark leafy greens, broccoli, as well as avocado, garlic and onions. Extra virgin olive oil and nuts are rich in antioxidants. In other words, eat real, whole foods as much as possible. 4). Spices and herbs such as turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and oregano are great inflammation fighters. Lemons and raw apple cider vinegar (rACV) are also anti-inflammatory. 5). Optimize gut bacteria with pre- and probiotics. Try to eat some type of fermented food every day. Yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha tea, and rACV are examples of fermented foods containing probiotics. Prebiotics feed probiotics. Examples of prebiotic foods are bananas, artichokes, asparagus, raisins, onions, garlic, leeks, and oats. 6). Avoid foods which increase inflammation, which seems to encompass the all-American diet. Fried and charred foods, refined sugars and grains, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, soda, wheat, soy, corn, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, GMO foods, and conventional meat and dairy products.
Eat well, stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.