Inflammation is a Good Thing… Until It’s Not
Our bodies have a biological response to harmful or irritating stimuli – remove it! Inflammation, specifically acute inflammation, is a sign that the body is trying to heal itself.
Inflammation does not mean infection, even when an infection causes inflammation. Infection is caused by a bacterium, virus, or fungus; inflammation is the body’s response to it. Make sense? This is why inflammation can also be caused by a sprained ankle, back injury, neck trauma, or just about any other harm or injury.
Chronic inflammation is long-term inflammation which can last for several months or even years. This can result from:
- An autoimmune response where the immune system attacks healthy tissue, mistaking it for foreign invaders.
- A chronic irritant of low intensity that persists, such as low grade infections, poor diets, or toxicity.
Infections, wounds and any damage to tissue would never heal without inflammation. Tissue would become more and more damaged and the body would perish. Inflammation should be present and expected until healing is complete, but then it should stop.
However, chronic inflammation can eventually cause several diseases and conditions, including some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, periodontitis, and hay fever. Inflammation needs to be well regulated.
Foods to Conquer Inflammation
Eating real food will radically reduce your exposure to the tens of thousands of chemicals added to processed foods. The key to reducing chronic inflammation in your body starts with diet. Check out our list of foods with anti-inflammatory benefits:
- Water- Staying well-hydrated can counteract many common illnesses. Water helps flush the body of toxins and keeps cells healthy.
- Teas- Teas, especially green tea, contain a super antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.
- Coffee- Although coffee can do more harm than good when consumed in excess or with added sweeteners, milk, or creamers, 1 to 2 cups of organic, whole bean, black-roasted coffee can lower the risk of Parkinson’s, dementia, and certain cancers.
- Red Wine- Known for promoting health, red wine contains resveratrol, another super antioxidant. Whole foods, such as muscadine grapes, also contain resveratrol and may be a better alternative since wine (like all alcoholic beverages) has a neurotoxic influence.
- Nuts- Raw nuts are an excellent source of healthy fats, which your body will need when you start cutting non-vegetable carbs out of your diet. They also contain plenty of valuable vitamins and minerals and are an overall great snack!
- Berries- Berries of all kinds contain concentrated amounts of disease-fighting phytochemicals known to boost immunity, prevent cancer, and protect the heart. They are also lower in sugar than other fruits, making them less likely to destabilize insulin levels.
- Dark chocolate- Bacteria in your gut will break down and ferment dark chocolate and turn it into anti-inflammatory compounds that benefit your health. The closer your cocoa is to its natural raw state, the higher its nutritional value! Ideally, cocoa would be consumed raw.
- Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon- To maximize health benefits from fish, avoid farmed fish, particularly farmed salmon. More specifically, stay away from genetically engineered farmed salmon. Look for “Alaskan salmon” or “sockeye salmon” as Alaskan sockeye is not allowed to be farmed.
- Avocado- Although classified as fruits, avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, which is converted into energy. They provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including potassium, vitamin e, B-vitamins, and folic acid. It also enhances the body’s absorption of other nutrients.
- Coconut Oil-Half of the fat content in coconut oil is lauric acid that your body converts into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil also produce a whole host of health benefits, including stimulating your metabolism.
Vegetables contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds. Some plant chemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which cells reproduce, get rid of old cells, and maintain DNA. Some power vegetables include:
- Broccoli- Broccoli contains dozens of super-nutrients that support optimal health, including immune-boosting and anti-cancer compounds.
- Sprouts- Because plants contain more concentrated amounts of nutrients in their initial phase of growth, sprouts offer some of the highest levels of nutrition available, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes that help to protect against free radical damage.
- Fermented vegetables- One of the most palatable fermented foods, these deliver a dose of beneficial bacteria to your gut, which is critically important for both physical and mental health. Fermented foods are also potent detoxifiers, capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals, including some pesticides.
- Tomatoes- contain lycopene, which has been shown to have cancer fighting properties. Be sure to consume with some type of healthy fat to maximize benefits, since lycopene is a fat-soluble nutrient.
- Cabbage- Cabbage is one of the most potent medicinal foods available. It contains compounds that help prevent cancer, as well as high concentrations of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. To obtain the most nutrients from your cabbage, eat it raw, lightly cooked, or fermented.
Seeds and Herbs
- Quinoa- Technically a seed, quinoa is mostly used as a grain replacement. It’s high in healthy fats and antioxidants and is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Soak it for a few minutes or even overnight before cooking.
- Garlic- Garlic is well known for its healing powers, and studies have demonstrated more than 150 beneficial health effects. It helps reduce the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and various cancers. Garlic must be used fresh to give optimal health benefits. Stimulate the process that catalyzes the formation of allicin (which is responsible for many of garlic’s therapeutic effects) by compressing a fresh clove with a spoon prior to use.
Inflammation is part of your body’s natural healing process, but if you are experiencing chronic inflammation, such as a persistent low-grade fever or pain that lasts more than a couple of months, you should be evaluated by a professional.