September Spring Clean Your Eating: Week Two
Inflammation is a vital part of the immune system’s response to injury and infection. It is the body’s way of signalling the immune system to heal and repair damaged tissue, as well as defend itself against foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. Without inflammation as a physiological response, wounds would fester, and infections could become deadly.
However, if the inflammatory process goes on for too long or if the inflammatory response occurs in places where it is not needed, it can become problematic. But a healthy diet and lifestyle can help keep inflammation under control.
In a nutshell, anti-inflammatory foods are those that include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (like beans and nuts), fatty fish, and fresh herbs and spices. The key is variety and think lots of colour. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, broccoli and cabbage can help curb inflammation in the body as well. The colour of fruits such as cherries, raspberries and blackberries have a type of pigment in it that helps fight inflammation.
Ways to reduce inflammation
Reduce sugar intake
Sugar can taste really good but, processed sugars aren’t good for you. Eating a lot of refined, added sugars can lead to headaches, low energy levels, and inflammation. Cutting sugar out of your diet will likely decrease inflammation, boost your energy levels, and improve your ability to focus.
It is possible to overdo it on caffeine and it can cause insomnia, restlessness, or a fast heartbeat, especially if consumed too fast.
Studies have shown coffee has been purported to help ward off everything from type 2 diabetes to cardiovascular disease and even dementia. Caffeine can block the effects of a molecule called adenosine and it’s been researched that blocking adenosine may also block pathways that produce inflammatory molecules.
More research is being done regarding the connection between coffee and inflammation. But building on Dr Roz’s article last week, drink good quality coffee and listen to your body. If you feel a racing heartbeat, shakes and finding it hard to sleep at night then consider lowering your coffee intake.
Moderate alcohol consumption…reduces biomarkers of inflammation, including c-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and TNF-alpha receptor 2. Alcohol, if you choose to drink it, should be only one small part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
So, how much alcohol can you get away with without causing too much inflammation? Stick to one drink three times a week or less to enjoy your cup while keeping the tides of inflammation low. And for your long-term health, it’s better to be an intermittent non-binge-drinker than a regular drinker.
All carbohydrates convert to sugar in your body. Some convert more quickly than others. If you eat a food containing gluten (such as pasta) and you have a sensitivity to that food, that will only add more fuel to your inflammatory levels.
If your feeling like certain carbs may not work for you try reducing them in your diet and up your vegetable and fruit intake. Some signs to look out for that carbs may not be working for you is that you feel foggy brained and sleepy within an hour of eating set carb, finding that your bloated or have a heavy feeling in your stomach are eating the carbs.
A healthy diet keeps the intestinal barrier strong and the immune system in top fighting condition. Healthy foods and probiotic supplements can work together to keep joints healthy and also keep the rest of the body strong.
Research is now showing the beneficial bacteria in probiotics appear to have an impact on inflammation, reducing common biomarkers of inflammation. Best thing is that you can easily find probiotics added to yogurts and naturally fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso and kombucha are always great to include.
Fish oil supplements are derived from the oils of cold-water fish, including mackerel, salmon, herring, tuna, halibut, and cod. Fish oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and have an anti-inflammatory effect by blocking cytokines and prostaglandins.
Turmeric is recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties. It works by blocking inflammatory cytokines and enzymes. Turmeric has the powerful compound curcumin, which makes it so effective. While this supplement can help with general inflammation, it can particularly help reduce stiffness and swelling.
Doctors have long suspected that green tea may fight inflammation, because people who live in regions that consume more green tea have lower rates of inflammation-related illnesses.
Research suggests that green tea may inhibit the production of certain inflammatory chemicals. It may also help slow cartilage loss, reducing the symptoms of arthritis.
To reduce levels of inflammation, aim for an overall healthy diet. If you’re looking for an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils. Not only will you feel better in the short term, with more energy and clarity of mind but have long term improvements to overall health and wellbeing.