Chronic Inflammation and Diet: What helps? What Hurts?

Chronic Inflammation and Diet: What helps? What Hurts?

by Bevon Findley (SU)

Researchers have long known that there is a link between diet and health. Newer studies, aimed at reducing certain inflammation promoting foods and increasing other inflammation reducing foods, have shown that diet can not only make you feel better by reducing pain caused by inflammation. It may also help to reduce your overall risk for diseases such as diabetes and colon cancer.

Foods that Increase Inflammation

Many people know that junk food is bad for them. What they may not know is just how bad. Junk food may actually increase inflammation related pain. Foods such as white bread, donuts, fried foods, potato chips, sodas and other sweetened beverages, red meat, margarine, and other refined carbohydrates have all been linked to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

If you will notice, the previous list of junk food contains things that aren’t normally found in nature in the form in which people tend to like to consume them (Contrary to popular belief, donuts don’t grow on trees). Since they are not a natural food source, your body may consider them invaders and respond by increasing inflammation in an effort to protect itself.  This is because the processes that cause inflammation are actually quite complex, and linked to your body’s natural defensive mechanisms.

When your body becomes inflamed, or swollen, in a given area, it allows white blood cells to fight potential invaders such as bacteria, pollens or chemical substances. While the response of your white blood cells may kill off unwanted guests, it can also leak certain substances into the tissues, causing them to become inflamed. Swelling and other protective processes in turn, create or increase pain by putting pressure on sensitive nerves.

The Good News: Foods that Help

Eating a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, berries, and healthy fats can go a long way towards reducing your waistline, health risks, and inflammation. Eating apples, blueberries, leafy greens such as spinach and kale lower the markers for inflammation. These same markers have a direct correlation to your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or developing adult onset Type II diabetes, as well.

Anti-inflammatory foods include:

  • Leafy greens including spinach, collards and kale
  • Olive oil and coconut oil
  • Nuts such as walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, and almonds
  • Fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel, tuna, and salmon
  • Tomatoes, apples, oranges, and grapefruit

If you are looking for an all-around healthier diet that lowers inflammation, increases energy, and boosts moods, the Mediterranean diet is hard to beat. With fruits and vegetables, fish, healthy oils and nuts, it also contains important trace minerals, antioxidants and polyphenols, which are protective compounds that occur naturally in some foods. If you are concerned about how your diet is affecting your inflammation, Dr. Ishan Gunawardene of Advanced Medical Clinic can answer all of your questions. To make an appointment with us in Wellington or Royal Palm Beach, request an appointment online or call (561) 434-1935 today.