The Health Blog

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

For many years now, we’ve been terrorized by the evils of cholesterol intake. Particularly in the view of heart health, cholesterol accumulation would cause blockages in our vessels and predispose us to heart disease. New data now shows that while it’s still important to have cholesterol in moderation (put that deep fried bacon doughnut down), it wasn’t the cholesterol that was causing all the damage.

Inflammation

If I were to pull out the crystal ball, I predict that the future will emphasize the importance of reducing inflammation. Current trends across many fields of medicine are examining or re-examining the role that inflammation has to play in our health.


In cardiovascular terms, it is the inflammation that builds up in blood vessels that causes heart issues. Only after inflammation sets in the vessels that cholesterol can adhere to cause blockages. 


The old saying “we are what we eat” holds a lot of truth here, though I’ll extend that thought to include our external environment. Environmental toxins such as the pollutants in the air, and the contents of our water supply play a role in our health, but these are sometimes outside our control. What we do have control over however is the food that we eat.

The Inflammatory Foods

Refined sugars and starches, omega-6 vegetable oils, glutens, and dairy products are in abundance in many diets. They may make foods tasty but at the price of inflammation in our body. Research now suggests that many diseases, which previously were blamed on age or other factors, are a result of inflammatory processes. This includes a broad spectrum of diseases; autism, dementia, digestive issues, skin issues, obesity, depression and the list goes on.


A simplified theory of how this works is the foods that we eat have the potential to create inflammation in our digestive system. Inflammation causes changes in the metabolism and over a period of time can affect the permeability of the gut lining. This in turn allows inflammatory elements to enter the bloodstream and affect the entire body.

We Are What We Eat!

An old weightlifter's quote - "six packs are made in the kitchen". Find out about how to maintain a healthy weight.

How To Reduce Inflammation

On a side note, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long history of promoting a balanced diet. TCM proposes that good dietary health would provide the body with nutrients for proper function. Improper diet would create accumulation of stagnation in the body which would lead to illness. Foods that were likely to cause accumulation included dairy products, wheat based products and fried greasy foods – sound familiar? There are many ways to reduce the amount of inflammation in the body. Dietary modifications are a great place to start.


• Increasing the amount of omega-3 oils in our diet can reduce the inflammatory effect of too much omega-6. Anti-inflammatory omega-3 can be found in fish (salmon, herring, mackerel), walnuts, avocado and flax seed.


• Foods rich in B vitamins and zinc to improve anti-oxidant function in the body. Think of it as counteracting the effects of inflammation on the body. B vitamins can be found mostly in dark leafy greens (spinach, kale) and zinc is plentiful in oysters, pumpkin seeds, beef, cashews.


• Use olive oil which contains oleocanthal which has an inhibitory effect on inflammation. Just don’t use it to cook with as high temperatures negate some of the beneficial qualities of olive oil.

The idea of a “healthy lifestyle” applies here as well. Get enough rest, keep hydrated, exercise in moderation, and keep a positive mood. Lastly, time for the shameless plug – therapeutically, acupuncture is able to help stimulate the body’s anti-inflammatory mechanisms. While it is known for treating musculoskeletal inflammation, research has shown acupuncture’s ability to subdue inflammation in the whole body. 


When you are ready to take that step to reduce inflammation, come see me to learn more.

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