Everyone in life experiences acute inflammation, swelling that is caused by a sudden injury or infection that is quickly resolved. Another problem that has come to the forefront in medical research is chronic inflammation. Started by the misinterpretation of the body’s immune response to its own cells or seemingly harmless chemicals, the symptoms of chronic inflammation are persistent, often lasting for years. It produces responses such as congestion, unrelenting joint pain, fatigue, red eyes, ulcerative colitis, uncontrolled blood sugar, high blood pressure and skin problems.
Research has shown that many dietary and lifestyle habits lead individuals into a state of chronic inflammation. Diets that are high in fat and carbohydrates, regular consumption of alcohol and increased stress all work together to set the stage for an inflammatory response. Obesity is a major contributing factor because fat cells produce proteins called cytokines that play a significant role in exacerbating the effect.
Researchers at Columbia University found that many diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and strokes have been linked to chronic inflammation caused by an imbalance of pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body. Carefully choosing appropriate foods in the diet and adding appropriate supplements can help individuals tip the balance back away from inflammation.
The primary key to creating an anti-inflammatory diet is variety. Processed and fast food meals should be avoided at all cost. Increases in the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables along with meats high in good fatty acids is desirable. Foods and supplements rich in anti-oxidants are key in producing an environment that combats the negative response.
Adults on average should consume between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day according to body size and activity level. In a healthy diet, approximately 45 percent of calories should come from carbohydrates, 25 percent from protein and 30 percent from fat. All three types of nutrients should be together at each meal. Certain foods are known for their effectiveness in reducing inflammation and can become the centerpieces of each meal.
Broccoli is known for its phytonutrients that work to fight inflammation and cancer cells. It is highly nutritious and a good source of fiber. It is closely related to cauliflower which also displays similar beneficial effects.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of healthy complex carbohydrates and provide an excellent combination of nutrients that work together to reduce inflammation. Vitamins B6, C, manganese and beta carotene all work together as a strong antioxidant force to keep down an exacerbated response.
Spinach offers an amazing mix of nutrients that work well to combat inflammation. Vitamins A, B2, B6, C, E, K, iron, calcium, folate, potassium, iron, manganese, magnesium and tryptophan all combine to create a natural and strong antioxidant force.
Recently, blueberries have come into the limelight because of their highly effective antioxidant properties. The anti-inflammatory result from eating blueberries has been found to effectively fight against cancer and dementia. Other berries that create a similar response include raspberries, blackberries, cranberries and strawberries.
Green tea is a great addition to any anti-inflammatory diet. It has excellent antioxidant properties and can be readily consumed without fear of increased caloric intake. Green tea’s natural effects have been found by researchers to be particularly useful in combating cancer and heart disease.
The nutrients in papaya also work together to decrease inflammation. Vitamins C and E along with papain, an enzyme that obliterates proteins, also help with digestion.
Turmeric is a spice that is usually found in curry powder. Its anti-inflammatory effects are so powerful that research has found it to be as effective as medications such as ibuprofen and steroids. Ginger is also another spice that produces a similar action.
Fresh fish provides an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids that are excellent anti-inflammatory agents. Salmon is an excellent choice along with anchovies, mackerel and sardines. The Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts has been shown by research to significantly reduce symptoms of autoimmune disease and decrease the chances of cancer and heart disease.
Nuts and oils are also good sources of Omega 3. Good examples include flaxseed, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil. The anti-inflammatory effects are particularly helpful in eliminating asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Many supplements that can be found in retail, drug, grocery and health food stores can pack a powerful punch in the fight against chronic inflammation.
Fish oil is an extraordinary source of Omega 3 and can be taken every day. It comes in a gel capsule and is reported to significantly reduce the pain of arthritis. According to a recent study, patients who regularly took the recommended dose of fish oil were able to cut back on their normal anti-inflammatory medications.
Antioxidants are essential chemicals in the battle against inflammation. They work by neutralizing free radicals of oxygen in the cells that cause cell damage and subsequently an inflammatory response. Supplements that are excellent sources of antioxidants are vitamin C, selenium and Vitamin E.
Quercetin works by decreasing the appearance of leukotrienes and prostaglandins, biochemicals that create an inflammatory response. It has been useful in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and prostatitis. Quercetin has also been found to block histamine, the body’s chemical that is the forerunner of the allergic response that produces symptoms such as red itchy eyes and a runny nose.
Alpha lipoic acid is a supplement that is taken to combat swelling within the blood vessels, nervous system and the brain’s fatty tissue. It is a coenzyme that boosts the production of anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body such as glutathione and vitamins C and E. The coenzyme is particularly useful in individuals who are suffering from neuropathy, neuritis and diabetes.
Resveratrol is a supplement that has been shown to be more effective at reducing swelling than medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin and indomethacin. It works by inhibiting the inflammatory effects of the biochemicals COX1 and COX2 in the body. It also works to fight against T cell proliferation subsequently reducing the symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis.