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Eat Yourself Better

Foods that help inflammation

It’s fast becoming accepted that we are what we eat. Doctors and scientists are discovering that the best way to reduce inflammation is not in the medicine cupboard, it’s in the refrigerator. We can change the state of our bodies by changing out diet.

There is a plethora of information out there which suggests that the foods that we eat either help fight inflammation or can keep triggering it. We’ve heard much about our immune system during the last two years in regard to Covid-19, your immune system becomes activated when your body recognises anything that is foreign such as invading pathogens (germs), plant pollen or chemicals, cell damage etc,. This can trigger a process called inflammation, which is a biological response to try and remove what is foreign. Intermittent bouts of inflammation on a short term basis are fine as it is the body’s process in the first stage of trying to heal itself and protect the body.

However when inflammation persists day after day, even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader, that's when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer's—have been linked to chronic inflammation.

The grocery store and not the pharmacy is one of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation. So choosing the right foods can help to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of illness, whereas making the wrong food choices can accelerate the inflammatory process and along with it the risk of a range of diseases. No one is saying that you need be a saint and stop eating them altogether but moderate their intake.

So what are the bad boy foods that contribute to inflammation:

  • Refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pastries

  • Chips and other fried foods

  • Sweet carbonated drinks and other sweetened drinks

  • Red meats (burgers) and processed meats (sausage, hot dogs etc)

  • Margarine and lard.

Unhealthy foods also contribute to weight gain, which is itself a risk factor for inflammation.

Instead we can reduce inflammation by eating an anti-inflammatory diet. This is a diet that is rich in natural anti-oxidants and polyphenols – the protective compounds found in plants. This is similar to the Mediterranean diet which is high in vegetables, fruit, nuts whole grains, fish and healthy oils. Studies have also shown an association between a diet rich in nuts and lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack and strokes.

So if you are considering modifying your diet, anti-inflammatory foods should include:

  • Tomatoes

  • Olive oil

  • Green leafy vegetables which include spinach, kale, cabbage and broccoli

  • Nuts such as almonds and walnuts

  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines (full of omega oils)

  • Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, cherries, oranges

  • Turmeric

In addition to lowering inflammation, a more natural, less processed diet can have noticeable effects on your physical and emotional health, so improving mood and overall quality of life.

If you are interested in this subject and would like more detail, a book I have thoroughly enjoyed reading is Spoon Fed by Prof. Tim Spector which is based on science and research.

Food for thought indeed!


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