Inflammation Down Good Health Up

Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response and without it we cannot heal. © Copyright 2012 CorbisCorporationWhen inflammation is out of control, however, it can wreak havoc with your health. There is a common link between all diseases and that link is chronic inflammation. Not the painful acute inflammation you experience if you cut your finger but low grade, insidious, ongoing inflammation that can undermine your immune system. This type of inflammation is at the centre of almost all diseases. (“thieves of good health”) and can be caused by stress, obesity, high blood pressure, vaccinations, surgery, bruises and viral or bacterial infections. Since about 70% of your immune system is in your gut and chronic inflammation can undermine your immune system, this means that there is a constant battle being raged in your gut and whatever you eat by way of food will determine which side wins: your immune system or inflammation. When you eat for low inflammation your diet becomes more plant based. This alkalizes your body, making it less acidic, puts more oxygen in your cells and reduces your risk of contracting disease. Firstly, let’s look at foods you should avoid and end the article on a positive note with foods that will boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.
Foods to avoid fall into four main categories.

I10796971-several-types-of-sugar--refined-sugar-brown-sugar-and-granulated-sugarn the “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” it was water, water everywhere, not a drop to drink. Nowadays it’s “Sugar, Sugar Everywhere” what’s left for me to eat. There is plenty left. Sugar is sugar is sugar is sugar, whether it’s white, brown, concentrated fruit juice, honey, maple sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or aspartame, which is an intense artificial sweetener said to be found in over 4,000 products worldwide but which is a neurotoxin, meaning it will affect the brain. If you eat as little as two teaspoons of sugar you can upset your body’s state of homeostasis, which is the balance in the body, which is needed for optimum health, repair, maintenance and even life itself. When an imbalance occurs inflammation sets in and can lead to disease. Diabetes is a case in point and don’t forget that sugar is also a major culprit in high blood pressure, more so than salt. A glass of apple juice, orange juice or grape juice contain as much sugar as a similar amount of canned soft drink and is just as detrimental.
Sugar is also found in chocolate, pasties, ice cream, sodas desserts and a host of other foods. It can go by other names but in nutrition any word that ends with “ose” denotes sugar (glucose, fructose, sucrose etc.). Sugar weakens the tissues of your body, your white blood cells and your immune system. This means that your body cannot fend off infectious or degenerative diseases. It also depletes the enzymes in your body that help you break down food into simple products that can then move from the digestive tract to the blood stream. When enzymes do not work well all of the protein in food is not digested and some partially digested protein gets into the bloodstream causing a condition known as “leaky gut syndrome”.

When we eat food we are either balancing the pro and anti-inflammatory compounds in the body or tipping the scale in favour of one or the other. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found that red meat contains a molecule that humans don’t naturally produce called Neu5Gc. After eating this compound your body develops anti-Neu5Gc antibodies and this response by your immune system can trigger chronic inflammation, which we already know is linked to cancer, heart disease and other degenerative illnesses.index.jpg Cuts of meat
The link between processed meat consumption and cancer is even stronger. By processed meats we mean ham, corned beef, salami, some sausages, bacon and hot dogs, to name a few. Harvard School of Public Health have found that eating processed meat was associated with a 42% higher risk of heart disease and a 19% higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Processed meat generates an even stronger inflammatory response by your immune system than red meat. The two reports below bear this out.
“There is strong evidence that … processed meats are causes of bowel cancer, and that there is no amount of processed meat that can be confidently shown not to increase risk … 
Try to avoid processed meats such as bacon, ham, salami, corned beef and some sausages.” (World Cancer Research Fund)
“To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should consider which types of meats they are eating. Processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli meats may be the most important to avoid.” (Harvard School of Public Health)

Refined grains are almost the same as refined sugar, just empty calories. They have had all the fibre and vitamin B taken out and as a consequence have no nutritional value whatsoever. They are also high on the glycemic index meaning that they will spike your blood sugar by giving you a short term boost of energy and leave you flat after a short period of time. The effect of this is even worse if you are diabetic. Refined grains also can hasten the onset of diseases like cancer. Unfortunately, they are everywhere and the most common ones are white flour, white bread, white rice, pasta, noodles, biscuits and pastries. Refined grains are also loaded with excess sugar, salt, artificial flavours and partially hydrogenated oils.
Nothing causes more inflammation in the body than gluten from grains and grains cause more of a spike in blood sugar than chocolate or fruits that have a high sugar content. You should avoid wheat and any other grains that contain gluten, even if you do not suffer from Celiac disease. Other grains that contain gluten are barley, rye and oats.

Common cooking oils like sunflower oil, safflower oil and corn oil are used in many homes and restaurants but are not particularly healthy. The reason is that they are very low in the healthy omega 3 fats and very high in inflammation causing omega 6 fats which breed disease. The ratio between the two should be 1:1 but in many oils that ratio is 6:1 in favour of omega 6 and sometimes can be as high as 20: 1 in favour of omega 6. They have also been hydrogenated to give them a long shelf life. These oils are also used in most processed foods and take away foods.image001.jpg vegetable oils
Trans- fats trigger systemic inflammation and can be found in fast foods, crackers, margarines, fried products, doughnuts and processed snack foods. They are oils that have been hardened. They increase LDL “bad” cholesterol and reduce HDL “good” cholesterol. They not only promote inflammation but also insulin resistance and obesity. A study by Nurses Health on 80,000 women found that a 2% increase in trans-fats consumption increased a woman’s chance of heart disease by 93%.
Now that we have told you what to eliminate from your diet in order to reduce inflammation, we will point you in the direction of foods, spices and herbs that are anti- inflammatory.
Dark green vegetables have high concentrations of anti-inflammatory vitamins and minerals including vitamin E which protect the body from pro- inflammation molecules called cytokines. These vegetables include spinach, kale, collard greens and broccoli. Beet reduces inflammation and also protects against heart disease and cancer. Chilli and cayenne are rich in capsaicin that reduces pain and inflammation. Bell peppers do not contain capsaicin but have powerful antioxidants. All peppers are members of the nightshade family and are not suitable for anyone with rheumatoid arthritis. Tomatoes fall into this category. Ginger and turmeric are powerful anti-inflammatory herbs. So too are garlic and onions.
Coconut and palm oils have been used for millennia in Asian cultures. They are making a big comeback in part because vegans who don’t want to eat animal products have found that they still need a fat for cooking that doesn’t oxidize when it’s heated… Coconut oil fills that function. In the food industry, they’ve started to bring back palm oil, which has a lot of saturated fat in it and is a good way to make food that lasts long on a shelf, because again, saturated fats are more stable and long-lasting.”SweetPotatoUncooked

Sweet potato, bananas, coconut oil, mangoes, beans and legumes (especially lentils, black eyed peas and red kidney beans) are all anti-inflammatory. There are also some more exotic foods that are making their mark as healthy alternatives to wheat and these include millet, sorghum, teff and quinoa. These are all also gluten free and suitable for those with Celiac disease. New flour you may want to try which are also anti-inflammatory and gluten free are breadfruit flour, green banana flour and of course coconut flour which are all anti – inflammatory and deliver other benefits to the body. When it comes to fish, oily ones like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are the best for fighting inflammation because they provide the body with omega 3 fatty acids. A study by the University of Hawaii in 2009 stated that men who ate boiled or baked fish as opposed to fried, dried or salted cut their risk of heart disease by 23%.
By eating for low inflammation you alkalize your body which creates less inflammation, boosts your immune system and reduces the risk of a degenerative disease getting hold.

Take Away
No, not that take away. That is pro- inflammatory. I mean what you are taking away from this article. Cut out sugars, trans-fats, hydrogenated cooking oils, processed meats and refined grains and add more vegetables, herbs and spices to your diet.
And here is something extra. If you fancy a non- fattening, tasty anti-inflammatory snack, mash a sweet potato (not the orange coloured one) and eat it with some grated coconut.

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