By Maggie Ward
THE MAJORITY OF TODAY’S chronic health conditions and the aches and pains that so many of us suffer from have one common cause, INFLAMMATION! Fortunately, Nature has provided us with some of the best ways to reduce chronic inflammation so we can feel better and live more productive lives. The inflammatory cascade is an important part of how the body fights infection and heals injury. However, if the process isn’t down regulated at some point, acute becomes chronic and that’s not good! Any condition ending in “-itis” indicates an inflammatory condition such as arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis and gastritis.
Hypertension, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, psoriasis, lupus, IBS, chronic back and neck pain, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and aging are also related to a pro-inflammatory state. The causes of chronic inflammation are multiple and for many result from a combination of nutritional imbalances, environmental toxins, chronic stress and pathogens. What you eat, breath, absorb and how you think and feel, all play a critical role in reducing and preventing inflammation.
Your diet can either contribute to inflammation or calm it down. Common Pro-Inflammatory Foods include:
- “Bad Fats”: Trans Fatty Acids /Hydrogenated oils (found in many packaged snack products and fried fast foods).
- Refined Sugars, synthetic and artificial sweeteners (like high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, saccharin), and “white” or highly refined flours
- Processed Meats and meat products preserved with synthetic or artificial preservatives like sodium nitrates or nitrites and were factory farmed.
- Red Meat (grass fed beef, bison and lamb is less inflammatory because the fat content is different. Look for these in your local health food store).
Common Anti-Inflammatory Foods are what I refer to as Nature’s Ibuprofen. The one’s that top the list are:
- Organic berries and all fruits and vegetables because they contain various photochemicals like antioxidants (vitamins C, E, beta-carotene and various minerals), bioflavonoids (like quercitin, limonene, hesperidin), and fiber which is needed for daily elimination of waste and support the healthy balance of the micro flora of the digestive tract. Grown women should aim for at least 7 servings a day and men should get 9. A serving is between ½ – 1 cup. The more COLORS the better!
- Herbs and spices are showing some very promising research in reducing inflammation and are a culinary delight! They add flavor and powerful anti-inflammatory punch to your dishes!
- Turmeric (contains curcumin)
- Green tea
- Holy Basil