Inflammation can be good or bad. When it’s good, it’s a natural response by the body to a cut, for example. The immune system sends white blood cells and other substances to the site of the injury to get the healing process going. On the other hand, chronic inflammation due to factors like living a sedentary lifestyle, stress, genetics, and exposure to toxins like secondhand tobacco smoke can be very dangerous and detrimental to the work we try to do in our office to restore joint functionality.
Why should we be concerned?
Low-grade chronic inflammation damages blood vessels. That increases the likelihood of heart problems and auto-immune illnesses like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation also has been implicated in the development of certain cancers, in diabetes, and in stroke. Other inflammation-related conditions include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. More and more research is coming out about the effects that inflammation has on an individual’s overall health. Our office advises an anti-inflammatory diet to keep chronic inflammation in check.
Treatment and Prevention of Inflammation Through Diet
The anti-inflammatory diet is not a cure-all, but it is among the best choices we can make—a scientifically proven way of maintaining optimum health. One of the major plusses of going on such a diet is that it provides us with steady energy and the necessary vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, dietary fiber, and protective phytonutrients.
The anti-inflammatory diet is easy to remember and follow. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables are its foundation. It includes three to five half-cup servings of whole and cracked grains, one to two half-cup servings of beans and legumes, and five to seven teaspoons of healthy fats each day. Cooked brown rice is easy to make and healthful, while bread should be kept to a minimum because it is processed. The daily allotment of good protein and omega 3 fatty acids can be found in two to six four ounce servings of wild Alaskan salmon, herring, and sardines. Focus on water and tea as beverages. A glass or two of organic red wine per day is acceptable. For sweets, dark chocolate, sorbet, and unsweetened dried fruits are recommended—but white sugar is not.
•Avoid white sugar and white flour.
•Include carbohydrates, fat, and protein at each meal.
•Read labels in the grocery store—avoid anything that is “hydrogenated” or even “partially hydrogenated.”
•Keep saturated fats found in butter, cream, highfat cheeses, cottage cheese, yogurt, unskinned chicken, and fatty meats to a bare minimum.
•Extra-virgin olive oil should be your main cooking oil.
•Small amounts of avocados and nuts are good—especially walnuts, cashews, almonds, and nut butters.
•Decrease consumption of animal protein except for fish and moderate quantities of high-quality lowfat natural cheeses and yogurt.
•Experiment with vegetable protein, especially from beans.
•Remember your fiber. Fruits (especially berries), vegetables (especially beans), and whole grains are rich in fiber.
•Fruits and vegetables should reflect all colors of the rainbow—and should especially include berries, tomatoes, orange and yellow fruits, and dark leafy greens. Together with mushrooms, these provide a healthy dose of your daily required phytonutrients.