What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and substances they produce protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses.

However, in some diseases, like arthritis, the body’s defense system — the immune system — triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign invaders to fight off. In these diseases, called autoimmune diseases, the body’s normally protective immune system causes damage to its own tissues. The body responds as if normal tissues are infected or somehow abnormal. (Web MD)

Chronic diseases affect more than 90 million Americans and believed to account for 70% of all deaths and more than 75% of the nation’s medical costs. Inflammation is the root of these health conditions, which include:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • cancer
  • stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease
(Neustadt, 2006; Rakel &Rindfleisch, 2007)

Current research into the mechanism of influencing inflammation demonstrates that some food contribute to the production of highly reactive compounds that can lead to significant inflammation and tissue damage; these same compounds can also prevent infection.However, in individuals who take a lot of antioxidant supplements, shows an increase in inflammation, indicating that a high use of individual antioxidant supplements may not be as helpful as a diet with varied mix of antioxidant-rich foods that protect against free radicals.Certain foods and dietary supplements contain compounds that inhibit inflammation by acting on specific chemical pathways in the body. Turmeric, for example, is one of those(Rakel & Rindfleisch, 2007).

The foundation of an anti-inflammatory diet include the following guidelines (Neustadt, 2006)

anti-inflammatory

  • Eat whole, natural, fresh foods.
  • Consume a diet high in fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, berries and low in refined grains and sugars.
  • Increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, fish oils, and plant sources.
  • Incorporate olive oil to the diet.
  • Increase consumption of lean, organic protein (poultry, fish, game, and red meat) and avoid hight-fat dairy as well as fatty, salty processed meats (bacon, sausage, and deli meats).
  • Avoid all trans fats, limit intake of saturated fats, eliminate fried foods, hard margarine, commercial baked goods, and most packaged and processed snack foods.
  • Drink water
  • Participate in daily exercise through aerobic, stretching and strength training activities – outdoors if possible.
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