The famous Greek physician Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food." This advice stands the test of time. Another saying, "You are what you eat," really holds true even in these uncertain times. The words “inflammation” and “anti-inflammation” have been found in plenty of conversations as we press through this viral pandemic.
What is inflammation? Why is it bad for us? What does food have to do with it?
Inflammation is a part of your body's normal response to an infection (viral or bacterial) or injury, such as a trauma or fall.
Inflammation is the root cause of all chronic illness. In truth, chronic inflammation plays a role in almost all types of chronic illness. In most cases, chronic inflammation is silent (subclinical) and in some cases, it can be deadly. Chronic inflammation can persist for years and trigger adrenal fatigue and an autoimmune cascade (called a cytokine storm).
How Food Affects Inflammation
The choice of food you eat can have a huge impact on the amount of inflammation in your body. Research shows that what you eat can affect the levels of C-reactive proteins (CRP), a marker for inflammation in your blood. In other words, if you have pain, you have inflammation.
The seven top causes of inflammation are as follows:
1. Diet (junk food)
2. Gut issues (dysbiosis, leaky gut, and stealth infections)
3. Chronic infections (viral, bacteria, Lyme disease)
4. Chronic stress
5. Poor sleep habits
6. Environmental toxins
7. Blood sugar imbalances (uncontrolled type 2 diabetes).
Additional factors for chronic inflammation are obesity/fatty liver, toxins, and drugs.
The good news is that anti-inflammatory foods tend to be the same foods that keep you healthy.
Here are a few simple rules of thumb for anti-inflammatory eating:
1. Eat more plant-based and whole plant foods. Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
2. Focus on antioxidants. They help prevent, reduce, and repair cell membranes and tissue damage. Eat foods such as berries, leafy greens (like kale and spinach), beets, ginger, turmeric, and green tea.
3. Get your omega 3s. Omega 3 fatty acids play a role in regulating edema (inflammation) and pain. Omega 3s are found in foods such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, flax seeds, and walnuts.
4. Eat less red meat.
5. Eliminate processed foods. Eliminate sugary cereals, drinks, deep-fried foods, cakes, deli meats, or packed processed foods. These food items often contain bad fats that are linked to inflammation.
In conclusion, lifestyle and diet changes can decrease inflammation, pain, and occurrences of chronic diseases.
Chantaye Evans-Carhee, DC, ACN, is a Doctor of Chiropractic and a Clinical Nutritionist at Pain 2 Wellness Center. For more information, call 404.699.0966.