Recently, inflammation has become the only thing people talk about, because it is the main cause for many different diseases from acne to Alzheimer’s and from digestive problems to obesity. However, inflammation can actually be a good thing. For instance, when the body detects an injury or illness, the immune system immediately sends T cells, white blood cells, and lymphatic fluid to the scene, water and blood also flood in to remove toxins and flush the area. This attack of antibodies causes pain, swelling and increased circulation which help the body define itself against illness and infection. In fact, inflammation can happen externally, in form of scratches, scrapes, bumps and bruises and internally, to fight infections and diseases.
Acute inflammation is a quick immune response that ends as soon as the injury has healed. You can prevent inflammation with the right food intake. According to researches, consuming the wrong kinds of food also causes inflammation, the chronic one that doesn’t go away. This is very dangerous, because over time, chronically inflamed organs and tissues start to degenerate, toxins build up, and our organs are depleted of vital nutrients. This is the reason for damaging our inside organs such as our heart, intestines, pancreas, kidneys, bones, skin and joints.
“A diet that’s high in inflammatory foods causes a constant, low-grade inflammation in the body,” says Elson Haas, MD, author of The False Fat Diet (Ballantine Books, 2001). “If the immune system is preoccupied fighting this constant inflammation, it’s not as able to help protect the body against other things that can pop up, such as abnormal cells in breast or prostate tissue.” According to Haas, “modern diseases are merely symptoms of the underlying issue of inflammation, which is just the body trying to heal itself; the question is, ‘from what?’”
The Diet That Does a Body Bad
What determines whether our body will be healthy or not, is our constant choice of food. Due to our fast lifestyle, we consume fast foods or packaged goods lacking in vital nutrients and high in pro-inflammatory ingredients, such as processed meats, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, sugars and refined starches. Constant intake of these inflammation-provoking foods spikes blood sugar and can also cause the body to stop responding to fat-regulating hormones.
According to Barbara Rowe, MPH, RD, author of Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Health (Fair Winds Press, 2008), modern convenience foods actually confuse our bodies. “Since these foods are so new to the human diet—most having been introduced only in the last 60 to 70 years—inflammation is a natural immune response to deal with them.”
However, those who don’t consume junk food or unhealthy fats should still pay attention to the ratio of good fats they eat. For example, omega-3 fats are the most underconsumed in the American diet, while omega-6s predominate—by a lot. Most of us get about 30-to-1 ration of omega-6s to omega-3s, and it’s all thanks to the packaged convenience foods we eat. Too much intake of omega-6s can cause low-grade inflammation in the body because they are pro-inflammatory. As Haas says: “This inflammation prompts the oxidizing of the LDL, or bad cholesterol, which then makes it more sticky and more likely to adhere to the artery walls,” which leads to heart disease. Adding omega-3s helps counteract the damage omega-6s do and may prevent that oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
Other Inflammation Triggers
Another factor that can cause inflammation is an immune reaction or allergy to a number of different foods. According to Haas, no matter how healthy the food is, if you have an allergic reaction to that particular food, your immune system’s response will trigger inflammation, usually signaled by bloating, gas and even pain. According to some dietitian, potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants may actually make inflammation worse. In some people, especially thoes with arthiritis, these veggies can cause joint pain. If you’ve experienced this sort of pain, don’t eat these vegetables for a few weeks to see if your symptoms improve.
Yet another cause of inflammation is an acid-alkaline imbalance in the body. According to experts, an acidic pH leads to toxicity which can create unfriendly environment for the healing of inflamed cells. In order to alkalize your body, you need to eliminate alcohol, coffee, black tea, fruit juice, refined foods, sugar. Also you need to intake fruits, dairly, grains and meats in moderation. What you should do, is to increase your consumption of all kind of veggies, spices, and beans.
Foods to Calm Inflammation
You don’t have to worry about inflammation, because there are plenty of anti-inflammatory foods that can help you solve this problem. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods will help you reduce chronic inflammation in the body, but is will also provide the essential building blocks for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight and having more energy. Try adding one or more of the following foods to your diet:
Apple and Onions. Environmental allergies are a cause of inflammation. Consumin onions and apples will help you fight the inflammation in the body because they contain quercetin, a natural histamine inhibitor. Keep in mind that quercetin is found in the skin of apples, so buy organic and eat them whole.
Hot Peppers. A natural alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs is capsaicin which can be found in serrano, jalapeno, cayenne and all hot chili serves. Capsaicin works to inhibit the COX-2 enzyme, a known cause of inflammation in arthritis and other inflammatory diseases in the body.
Pineapple. This tropical fruit is very beneficial when it come to reducing inflammation in the body, as well as pain and swelling, due to its anti-inflammatory compound called brolemain. Don’t heat this fruit, because then the bromelain will lose its anti-inflammatory value, so just consume it fresh.
Dark, Leafy Green Begetables. These good-for-everything veggies contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 that has similar anti-inflammatory benefits as the omega-3s found in fish.
Oily, Cold-Water Fish. Salmon, Mackerel and Sardines. All these are a rich source of omega-3s, which will help you reduce the production of pro-inflammatory hormones in the body. Always chose wild Pacific or Alaskan salmon, or organically and sustainably farm-raised varieties, which have been shown to have the lowest mercury levels. When consuming these fish, in order to get the omega03 fats, you need to know that they are contained in the “brown fat” near the skin. Scrape it onto your fork, or make sure to eat the whole fish, skin and all. Gentle poaching and quick searing are good cooking methods for keeping omega-3s intact.
Olives and Olive Oil. We suggest you to consume olives and olive oil because the oleic acid found in them contains omega-9 fatty acids, which help omega-3s do their anti-inflammatory job. For best results, you should consume strong, green and unrefined varieties of olive oil. Moreover, raw olive oil has the most anti-inflammatory properties; heating can lessen its nutritional benefits.
Flaxseeds, Walnuts, Pumpkinseeds. These nuts and seeds contain all-important omega-3s. make sure to consume them raw, because roasting temperatures destroy omega-3s. For a “toasted” nut taste, soak nuts in water overnight and use a dehydrator to give them a crunchy bite.
Foods to Steer Clear of:
- Snack Foods
- Baked Goods
- Hard Cheeses
- Fried Foods
Moroccan Chicken with Olives
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon mild paprika
- 3/4 cup chopped parsley plus a little more for garnish
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (check sodium content of stock)
- 6 to 8 chicken thighs, bone in, with skins
- 1 cup chicken stock or water
- 1/2 cup Gaeta or Kalamata olives, pits in
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar or sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus another tablespoon for drizzling
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (grated peel)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- First of all, mix the onion, parsley, spices, salt, and agave nectar in a medium bowl.
- Put two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet and heat it over medium heat. Then, add chicken in a single layer, and cook 2-3 minutes on each side until slightly browned.
- Add the stock and onion mixture and bring the stock to a boil. After that, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook gently for 20 minutes until the chicken is tender and no pink flesh remains.
- Once prepared, place the chicken on a platter, but let the sause simmer another 2-3 minutes on a medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and olives.
- At the end, spoon the sauce over the chicken. You should drizzle it with olive oil and if you want you can garnish it wil the remaining parsley.
Nutrition info per serving: 297 calories; 22 g fat; 5 g saturated fat; 72 mg cholesterol; 18 g protein; 8 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 459 mg sodium
Green and Gold Salad
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest (grated peel)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons unfiltered honey, softened if hard
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil
- Pinch ground nutmeg, pinch salt
- Dash cinnamon, dash ground ginger
- 1 orange or medium grapefruit
- 1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts
- 6 cups baby spinach
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
- Pinch cinnamon (for garnish)
- Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small dish until emulsified.
- Take a large platter, arrange the spinach and top with the red onion rounds.
- Use a sharp knife to remove the stem and opposite end of the orange with a sharp knife. Lay the orange flat side down, and slice the skin off in 1- or 2-inch sections from top to bottom, but make sure not to remove too much of the fruit. Turn the orange so the flat ends face to the sides. Slice the orange into 1/4-inch rounds, and quarter each round.
- At the end, arrange the oranges in a decorative fashion over the spinach and onions. Drizzle the salad generously with the dressing, and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts and cinnamon.
Nutrition info per serving: 162 calories; 9 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 3 g protein; 22 g carbohydrates; 3 g fiber; 38 mg sodium
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon capers
- 1 canned sardine fillet
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
All you need to do is to blend all the ingredients in a blender until you get a puree.
Nutrition info per serving: 160.4 calories; 15 g fat; 0.7 g saturated fat; 2.8 mg cholesterol; 0.6 g protein; 6.1 g carbohydrates; 0.1 g fiber; 712.9 mg sodium
- 4 cups diced fresh, ripe pineapple
- 1 heaping cup chopped dates
- 1 cup Greek or regular plain, unsweetened yogurt
- 4 to 6 tablespoons agave nectar (depending upon desired sweetness)
- 1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- First, mix the yogurt and agave together in a dish.
- Put all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and gently blend in the yogurt.
- Before serving, let it sit for ten minutes in order to allow flavors to develop.
Nutrition info per serving (based on 6 servings): 228.1 calories; 6.4 g fat; 4.9 g saturated fat; 5.3 mg cholesterol; 3.1 g protein; 44.3 g carbohydrates; 5.1 g fiber; 24.2 mg sodium