Diet can fight inflammation

Inflammation
is a normal process in the body. In the simplest of terms, inflammation is your
immune system’s response to healing wounds and fighting infection. 

Although
we would not survive without some inflammation, sometimes this normal response
can go into overdrive, which can ultimately lead you to diseases such as heart
disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.

There
are many causes of inflammation: abdominal obesity, cigarette smoking, high
blood pressure, high blood sugar and even a poor diet.

There are many foods
that should be avoided when it comes to inflammation and your health;
unfortunately, these are the types of foods that so many people eat regularly.

Too much meat, too much sugar and sweets and too many refined carbohydrates can
promote inflammation in the body.

This is that loaf of white bread sitting on
your kitchen counter, or that white bagel you toast each morning.

It’s those
sugary cookies and chocolate bars you snack on at work, or that can of soda you
drink with your lunch.

It’s also those fatty animal foods like steak and
sausage and those hidden trans fats in that side order of French fries you eat
with that fast-food burger.    

Omega-3 fatty acids

All
of these foods promote the release of inflammatory compounds in your body.

Among
the top foods that provide anti-inflammatory compounds in the body is omega-3
fatty acids, particularly DHA and EPA found in fish.

Many nutrition experts
recommend eating six to 12 ounces of oily fish a week – trout, salmon, mackerel
and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t like
fish, try taking a fish oil supplement. 

Another
omega-3 fat available is alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. Great sources of ALA
include ground flaxseed, walnuts, walnut oil, flax oil and canola oil.

With the
exception of canola oil, a mere teaspoon will supply you with all the ALA you
require for the day; one tablespoon of ground flaxseed or 14 walnut halves will
also provide you with more than your daily requirement of ALA.

While walnuts do
get a lot of attention for their anti-inflammatory benefits, all types of nuts
will offer similar properties.

You don’t need much though – just one ounce per
day – that’s about 24 almonds, or 18 cashews, or 28 peanuts, or eight Brazil
nuts, or 14 walnut halves (start counting!).   

Flavonoids

Flavonoid-rich
foods are also important to an anti-inflammatory diet. Flavonoids are unique
phytochemicals that offer a strong antioxidant effect, thereby helping to reduce
inflammation in the body.

Sources include: broccoli, kale, cherries, red
grapes, berries, oranges, onions, soybeans, dark chocolate, firm tofu, black
tea and green tea. 

Finally,
besides that fish oil supplement mentioned earlier, taking vitamin D is another
good choice. Among its many roles, vitamin D also has anti-inflammatory effects
in the body.

In fact, research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is
associated with higher levels of inflammation in adults.

So
toss away the white, refined sugary carbs and side of animal fats, and dish up
the fish oils, nut oils and fabulous flavonoids. Don’t forget that side of
vitamin D.

 

Andrea
Hill is a registered nutritionist based in the Cayman Islands.

 

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