The classic sign of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, which can cause redness, heat, pain and swelling.
According to the Harvard Medical School, doctors are learning that one of the best ways to reduce inflammation lies not in the medicine cabinet, but in the refrigerator. By following an anti-inflammatory diet you can fight off inflammation for good.
Inflammation is a process by which your body's white blood cells and the things they make protect you from infection from outside invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. But in some diseases, like arthritis, your body's defense system; your immune system, triggers inflammation when there are no invaders to fight off. In these autoimmune diseases, your immune system acts as if regular tissues are infected or somehow unusual, causing damage.
Chronic inflammation occurs with various diseases, such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. But don’t panic just yet if you’re suffering from any autoimmune diseases because there is evidence that dietary choices may help manage the symptoms.
An anti-inflammatory diet favors fruits and vegetables, foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, lean protein, healthful fats, and spices. It discourages or limits the consumption of processed foods, red meats, and alcohol. This diet is not a specific regimen but rather a style of eating. Some foods contain ingredients that can trigger or worsen inflammation. Sugary or processed foods may do this, while fresh, whole foods are less likely to have this effect.
According to Medical News Today, an anti-inflammatory diet may serve as a complementary therapy for many conditions that become worse with chronic inflammation.
The following conditions involve inflammation:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Eosinophilic Esophagitis
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Since March is National Kidney Month, let’s quickly talk about inflammation and chronic kidney disease.
People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) can experience chronic inflammation that can lead to cardiovascular disease and even an increased rate of death.
Inflammation in people who have chronic kidney disease can be caused by:
- Dialysis vascular access infection
- Foot ulcers
- Gum disease or poor dental health
- Poor nutrition due to poor appetite
- A transplanted kidney that no longer works
- Uremia (extra waste in the blood)
Other causes of inflammation that affect people with or without chronic kidney disease include:
- Infections that linger
- Lack of exercise
Symptoms of acute inflammation can resemble flu-like symptoms and include:
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle stiffness
- Swollen joints, warm to the touch
- A transplanted kidney that no longer works
According to DaVita Kidney Care, there is a connection between malnutrition and chronic inflammation in people with kidney disease. Eating problems may occur frequently in kidney disease patients, especially for those with end stage renal disease (ESRD) and on dialysis.
Poor appetite results in a lack of calorie and protein intake. Over time, a condition called protein energy malnutrition (PEM) occurs. In addition to weight loss, patients experience muscle wasting, because the body must break down muscles to supply protein for vital functions. Doctors and dietitians check the albumin level to help evaluate the degree of PEM.
Inflammation prevention and treatment in people with CKD usually begins with a healthy, kidney-friendly diet. To prevent malnutrition, it’s important to focus on adequate calorie and protein intake and foods that contain antioxidants.
Foods that contain high-quality protein are:
- Eggs or egg whites
- Lean red meat
- Low cholesterol egg products
- NATUREAL Whey Protein
Some foods that are high in antioxidants include:
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
- Olive oil
- Red grapes
This kind of a diet, also known as the kidney diet, regulates the amount of potassium, phosphorus and sodium you consume, and contains enough protein to prevent malnutrition.
If you are struggling with other inflammatory conditions, then it’s important to note that an anti-inflammatory diet should combine a variety of foods that:
- Are rich in nutrients
- Contain healthful fats
- Provide a range of antioxidants
Berries are great for inflammation as they are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Berries contain antioxidants called anthocya nins. These compounds have anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce your risk of disease.
Lona Sandon, PhD, RDN, an assistant professor in the department of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, recommends that you make one or more servings of fresh or frozen berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, or huckleberries, part of your daily diet. These little fruits pack powerful antioxidant compounds, like proanthocyanidins and ellagic acid, which fight inflammation and cell damage. The amount and combination of the compounds vary by the type of berry, so make variety your goal!
Broccoli is one of the best sources of sulforaphane, an antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory effects. To be honest, other green, leafy vegetables - also known as cruciferous vegetables - such as spinach, brussels sprouts, kale, Swiss chard and bok choy are also packed with antioxidants like vitamins A, C and K, which protect cells from free-radical damage. These foods are also high in bone-preserving calcium (especially if you are suffering with rheumatoid arthritis).
The way to cook you broccoli is to stream it for no more than five minutes so that it doesn’t lose any of its anti-inflammatory properties. Prolonger cooking of the vegetable can not only result in a loss of its bright green colour, but also causes a loss of the vitamins present in this nutritious vegetable. (And this is our tip for cooking all green, leafy vegetables!).
Fatty fish are a great source of protein and the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Although all types of fish contain some omega-3 fatty acids, these fatty fish are among the best sources:
Your body metabolizes these fatty acids into compounds called resolvins and protectins, which have anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-3s interfere with immune cells called leukocytes and enzymes known as cytokines, which are both key players in the body’s inflammatory response.
“The marine omega-3 fatty acids nip inflammation in the bud before it ignites. They really help to tamp down inflammation in the body on a cellular level,” says Kim Larson, a Seattle-based nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson.
If you simply can’t stomach salmon or sardines, then it’s worth trying omega-3 supplements. Try your nearest pharmacy or your doctor for recommendations on vitamins.
Chili peppers are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Spicy peppers contain the chemical compound capsaicin, which is known to help reduce inflammation and potentially even pain.
If you have been suffering with inflammatory diseases for some time, then you must have surely come across tumeric as one of the solutions. That’s because turmeric contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin. Eating black pepper with turmeric can significantly enhance the absorption of curcumin.
According to WebMD, turmeric is commonly used for conditions involving pain and inflammation, such as osteoarthritis. It is also used for hay fever, depression, high cholesterol, a type of liver disease, and itching. Some people use turmeric for heartburn, thinking and memory skills, inflammatory bowel disease, stress, and many other conditions.
The best way to incorporate turmeric in your diet would be to add a quarter teaspoon of turmeric in your food while cooking. Alternatively, you can enjoy a turmeric latte every night before bed.
Here’s a simple turmeric latte recipe:
In a pan, add one cup of nut milk of your choice.
Bring it to a boil and add a quarter teaspoon of turmeric, one teaspoon of honey (optional), a pinch of black pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg (for taste).
Stir and enjoy!
According to Everyday Health, researchers have become interested in the anti-inflammatory benefits of olive oil because people who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, seem to have fewer health conditions related to inflammation, such as degenerative joint diseases or diabetes.
The Canadian Society of Intestinal Research published an article which mentions researchers in 2005 discovered a chemical agent in newly pressed extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) which shares pharmacological properties with the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen. After noticing that EVOO had the same throat irritating properties as ibuprofen, researchers isolated a compound called oleocanthal which they believe is responsible for this irritant effect. They then went on to test whether or not EVOO and ibuprofen shared other chemical characteristics, namely an anti-inflammatory quality.
While structurally dissimilar, the molecules of oleocanthal and ibuprofen appear to bring about a similar chemical effect. Ibuprofen works by inhibiting the action of cyclooxygenase enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2, which are involved in inflammation pathways. It was discovered that, like ibuprofen, the oleocanthal present in EVOO had COX-inhibiting activity.
These findings, although preliminary, suggest that long-term consumption of extra virgin olive oil may help in preventing some diseases due to oleocanthals ibuprofen-like COX-inhibiting character.
A diet rich in extra virgin olive oil, such as that found in the Mediterranean area, is believed to be advantageous in many ways that are also attributed to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Just like peppers, citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. These fruits include lemon, orange, grapefruit and lime. This dietary component is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, which helps build and repair blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone, and is therefore helpful for people with osteoarthritis. Citrus fruits are also good sources of inflammation-fighting antioxidants, which are helpful for those with autoimmune diseases.
So, try start your day with a glass of orange juice, have half a grapefruit for a snack, and squeeze lime or lemon juice on foods when you're cooking to take advantage of the healing power of citrus.
Mushrooms are very low in calories and rich in selenium, copper, and all of the B vitamins. They also contain phenols and other antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory protection.
According to Science Direct, deficiencies of antioxidants, vitamins, and microelements, as well as physiological processes, such as aging, can affect the body’s ability to resolve inflammation. Mushrooms are rich in anti-inflammatory components, such as polysaccharides, phenolic and indolic compounds, mycosteroids, fatty acids, carotenoids, vitamins, and biometals. Metabolites from mushrooms of the Basidiomycota taxon possess antioxidant, anticancer, and most significantly, anti-inflammatory properties.
Recent reports indicate that edible mushroom extracts exhibit favourable therapeutic and health-promoting benefits, particularly in relation to diseases associated with inflammation. In all certainty, edible mushrooms can be referred to as a “superfood” and are recommended as a valuable constituent of the daily diet.
An article published by Healthline suggests that a special type of mushroom called lion’s mane may potentially reduce low-grade, obesity-related inflammation. It is also stated that a study found that cooking mushrooms lowered their anti-inflammatory compounds significantly. Therefore, it may be best to eat them raw or lightly cooked in stir-frys.
Avocados are a great source of healthy fats and antioxidants. Avocados are a great source of healthy monounsaturated fat and antioxidants, which can dampen your body's inflammatory response. In fact, the anti-inflammatory properties of avocados are so strong that they may actually offset less healthy food choices.
A study published in 2013 in the journal Food & Function looked at markers of inflammation in the blood of participants after they ate a hamburger either with or without about 2 ounces of avocado. The researchers found that including avocado reduced the inflammatory response compared with eating the hamburger alone.
If you’re pretty amazed right now, then you best start incorporating avocados into your diet, stat!
Ending on a sweet note, we have dark chocolate and cocoa - which are not only delicious, rich and satisfying - but also packed with antioxidants that reduce inflammation.
Dark chocolate contains several compounds that possess antioxidant properties, such as flavanols and polyphenols.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress refers to the damage that excessive amounts of free radicals can inflict on cells and tissues in the body.
Oxidative stress contributes to the natural aging process.
Over time, the effects of oxidative stress may also contribute to the development of a variety of diseases, such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Eye disease
- Heart disease
- Parkinson’s disease
Now that you are more aware of which foods to incorporate into your diet to manage inflammation, the following foods have been linked to increased levels of inflammation and should therefore be avoided or limited:
Alcohol, especially mixed drinks topped with soda, and sugary syrups
Certain condiments: barbecue sauce, cream sauces, gravy mixes, ketchup, malt vinegar, salad dressings, soy sauce,
Dairy: full fat dairy products and whole milk
Junk foods: cakes, cookies, doughnuts, fast food, convenience meals, pancakes, pastries, potato chips, pretzels, waffles
Refined carbohydrates: white bread, pasta, white rice, crackers, flour tortillas, biscuits
Fried foods: french fries, donuts, fried chicken, mozzarella sticks, egg rolls
Gluten: barley, bread, couscous, farina, flour tortilla, muffins, potato bread, rye, spelt, wheat,
Refined sugar: added sugar, caramel, dextrose, fructose, glucose, maltose, molasses, pasta and tomato sauce, peanut butter, rice syrup
Saturated fats: bacon, butter, cheese, chorizo, cured meat, fatty cuts of meat, ghee, pancetta, salami, sausage
Sugar-sweetened beverages: soda, sweet tea, energy drinks, pre-made beverages, i.e., coffee, tea and sports drinks
Processed meats: bacon, beef jerky, canned meat, hot dogs, smoked meat
Trans fats: shortening, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, margarine
Shop at NATUREAL for pure, clean ingredients that protect against oxidative stress, fight free radicals, support healthy inflammatory responses and make you feel like the king and queen that you are from the inside out!