Inflammation has been found to be associated with just about every health condition. Researchers are furiously investigating chronic inflammation’s effects on health and possible preventive medical applications.
Dr. Tanya Edwards, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine, said that inflammation is now recognized as the “underlying basis of a significant number of diseases.”
Although inflammation has long been known to play a role in allergic diseases like asthma, arthritis and Crohn’s disease, Edwards said that “Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and Parkinson’s disease may all be related to chronic inflammation in the body.”
What is Inflammation?
It is the body’s natural defense against viruses, bacteria and toxins. It aims to remove these harmful or foreign invaders and heal itself.
When the body’s inflammation response is fired up against invaders inflammation is good.
There are two different types of inflammation.
-One type is acute inflammation;
– The other is chronic.
While acute inflammation starts quickly and generally disappears in a few days, chronic inflammation can last for months or years as a result of repeated exposure to the substance causing it.
A poor diet, stress, minor food allergies, a sedentary lifestyle and more can contribute to chronic inflammation.
Let’s look at inflammation as it occurs in the gut and the effect it has on our systems.
What Causes Inflammation?
The one place common for inflammation is in the gut.
This creates damage to the lining of the intestinal tract which create holes in the intestinal lining. Once this happens undigested food leaches into the blood stream. This condition is known as leaky gut. As leaky gut continues to leak toxins into the bloodstream an immune response is triggered in the body. This creates inflammation.
In addition, the immune system reacts in the way of a food allergy. Over time this response of high alert puts the immune system on overload and triggers autoimmune diseases.
What researchers believe is that an overactive immune system results in the body being flooded with defense cells and hormones that damage tissues.
Dietary and environmental toxins may build up in the body, turning the immune system on and keeping it highly reactive.
Foods that promote Inflammation are:
- Pasteurized dairy
- Refined carbohydrates
- Conventional meat
- Trans fats
What Can We do to Reduce Inflammation in the Gut?
- Include as much fresh food as possible.
- Minimize your consumption of processed foods and fast food.
- Eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables.
- Incorporate anti-Inflammatory foods such as fiber, fruits, vegetables and teas have been used to combat cancer
The Mediterranean Diet contains many anti-inflammatory foods and has been shown to lower cholesterol, triglycerides and reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
The diet has also been linked to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
By reducing inflammation, you place your body in a state that is conducive to healing from diseases and other health conditions.
Anti-inflammatory super foods:
- Acai fruit
- Beans and lentils
- Green leafy vegetables
- Hot peppers
- Nuts and seeds
Dr. Andrew Weil has created a food pyramid of anti-inflammatory foods. A handful of the foods he recommends are:
- Vegetables; beets, carrots, cruciferous vegetables, dark, leafy greens, sea vegetables and squashes
- Whole organic fruits; blackberries, blueberries, cherries, nectarines, oranges, pears, pink grapefruit, plums, pomegranates, red grapefruit or strawberries
- Drink purified water, sparkling water or unsweetened tea throughout the day
- Beans and Legumes; ansazi beans, adzuki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas or lentils
- Healthy Fats; avocados, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed, hazelnut oil, hemp seeds, high-oleic safflower or sunflower oils, sesame oil or walnut oil
- Fresh roots and herbs; tumeric, ginger, basil, chili peppers, cinnamon, curry powder, garlic,
- Clean proteins; free range eggs, grass-fed meats and poultry, natural cheeses and raw yogurt
- Green tea;2-4 cups per day
- Healthy Sweets such as dark chocolate
Supplements; probiotics, Co-enzyme Q10, carotenoids, fish oil, selenium, vitamins C, D and E
UCLA professor Greg Cole has been looking at how to control inflammation and possibly prevent Alzheimer’s disease with food substances such as curcumin, fruit flavonoids, omega-3 fatty acids and reservatrol.