Inflammation and Chronic Disease
Inflammation is a natural body response to harmful pathogens and cells. It is a protective response that fights the initial damage to our immune system. There are two types of inflammation: Acute inflammation and Chronic Inflammation. Acute inflammation is usually caused by bacterial pathogens or injured tissues, whereas chronic inflammation is caused by persistent acute inflammations or persistent foreign agents, or autoimmune reactions.
Heart disease and cancer, are the deadly manifestation of chronic inflammation, and are expected to remain as the leading causes of death in developed countries for many years to come. According to statistics provided by the World Health Organization, Cardiovascular Diseases are the number one cause of death globally: more people die annually from Cardiovascular Diseases than from any other cause.
However, study after study shows that the risk of heart disease and cancer are modifiable by our lifestyle choices, which includes the food we choose to eat each day. With every bite we take, we’re either balancing the pro- and anti-inflammatory compounds in the body, or tipping the scale to one end.
The good news is that you can control the level of inflammation in your body by simply changing the way you eat. Here are some regular tips on controlling persistent inflammatory reactions in the body.
- Getting regular sleep
- Eating well – This includes incorporating more natural anti-inflammatory foods in your diet like green leafy vegetables, bok choy, broccoli, celery, walnuts, pineapple, flaxseeds, coconut oil, etc.
- Cutting down on foods which are known to be pro-inflammatory
- Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake
- Reducing stress levels and engaging in regular exercise will all help to make a difference.
Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods – Eat more of these!
Here is a list of top 10 anti-inflammatory foods. These foods help reduce inflammation and act as natural anti-inflammatory agents.
Papaya contains the enzymes ‘papain’ and ‘chymopapain’, which help reduce inflammation in the body (and they also improve digestion). Papaya has powerful antioxidants including beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, which combat free radicals in the body that trigger inflammation-related diseases.
Avocados are made up of: Phytosterols, Polyhydroxylated Fatty Alcohols (PFA’s) and Oleic acid. Phytosterols and PFA’s are key components in our body’s inflammatory system and help to keep inflammation under control. Numerous studies have been published, which have shown a direct correlation between Avocado’s anti-inflammatory benefits and arthritis relief and gout.
Cranberries contain important anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that protect the cardiovascular system and prevent hardening of the arteries. They also prevent inflammation-associated diseases of the urinary tract (urinary tract infections), stomach (ulcers), and mouth (gingivitis).
Broccoli is an incredible anti-inflammatory food; thanks to its abundant sulforaphane compounds, which help the body, get rid of potentially carcinogenic compounds and relieve inflammation and oxidative stress. It is also very high in vitamin C, another powerful anti-inflammatory agent that can cut the level of inflammation markers by up to 45%!
(5) Red Cabbage
Anthocyanin’s found in red cabbage have been researched numerous times and time and time again they have been found to be one of the best anti-inflammatory vegetables out there!
Inflammation and damage by free radicals have been linked with almost every disease seen today. Many studies have found that blueberries prevent oxidative stress and inflammation. Blueberries help increase natural killer cell activities that help eradicate free radicals and fight disease. They also promote the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines in the body, which leaves us with lower levels of inflammation and a reduced chance of falling ill.
Ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, which inhibit the production of nitric oxide (which naturally forms potent and very damaging free radicals called peroxynitrites). Ginger has also been found to suppress pro-inflammatory compounds, which makes our immune system stronger.
Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, phytonutrients (tannins, phenolic acids and flavonoids), quinones and other anti-inflammatory nutrients. Consuming walnuts has been linked to decreased markers for blood vessel inflammation (reduced C-reactive protein) for those at risk for heart disease. Including walnuts as a part of your diet will ensure you gain these benefits.
Turmeric is one of the best anti-inflammatory foods. This is due to its active ingredient, curcumin, this root can inhibit the activity and synthesis of COX-2 and 5-LOX, two important enzymes involved in the inflammatory response. One study found that osteoarthritis patients had significantly reduced pain and increased mobility when taking just 200 mg of curcumin per day (the control group with no curcumin had no significant improvements). Curcumin has also been found to block inflammatory pathways, and thus prevents proteins from triggering pain and swelling.
A specific nutrient in celery, called “luteolin”, is particularly effective against inflammation and cancer. This compound is found in smaller amounts in peppers, parsley, thyme, basil and peppermint. It is a bioflavonoid, which means that it has double the antioxidant properties of vitamin C! Luteolin essentially prevents the inflammatory pathway in the brain to get switched on, and thus helps reduce the amount of inflammatory responses triggered in the body.
According to statistics provided by Cancer Research UK, in 2010 there were 157,275 from cancer, and they predict that will increase to 193,280 by 2030. In order to reduce this risk of chronic disease in our lives, we need to implement the above anti-inflammatory foods in our diets and aim towards a healthier life.