Guru Kate: ‘What are anti-inflammatory foods and how do they work in the human body?’

200380515-001Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury. Noticing that something is awry in the complex system, the wound sends out messengers from the immune system to check the problem out and patch things up.

Unfortunately, this buildup of do-gooders results in a traffic jam at the site of injury, which builds up pressure and triggers more pain receptors. This buildup of pressure is called “inflammation.”

Sometimes, inflammation can occur with the smallest injuries, such as muscle tearing from working out too hard.

However, for many people, it occurs in chronic disease states like diabetes or coronary heart disease, with no pain present. Greater levels of inflammation can be a signal of general illness.

Certain foods can increase the chemicals of inflammation, like cytokines, and some foods can increase the chemicals that combat inflammation, like prostaglandins.

But what you’d really like to know is what foods give you inflammation and are associated with chronic disease, and which ones can help heal inflammation and prevent those nasty disease states.

Eating too much fat is not only harmful to your waistline but also for your inflammation levels.

- Advertisement -

This isn’t to say that fat should be avoided (it is a necessary part of a balanced diet), but only use as much olive oil as necessary and avoid having that third or fourth piece of bacon.

In addition, Swedish researcher Stig Bengmark said most of these pro-inflammatory compounds come from refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup, because of their increased concentrations of carbohydrates. Other common sources include dairy products, bread and meat. Even fruit can contribute to inflammation because of its high levels of fructose.

If you think that the only foods Bengmark left out are vegetables and some grains, you’d be right. Considering that a diet like that would be lacking in many key nutrients (not to mention flavor and fun), Bengmark’s research suggests restricting caloric intake, increasing vitamin and antioxidant consumption and consuming more foods with pre- and pro-biotics in mind, like asparagus or miso soup.

To a normal American, these changes can be made by reducing overall sugar (fewer donuts and more vegetables than fruits) while being frugal with your caloric intake.

Also, increase foods like broccoli, sweet potatoes, kale, banana peppers, hazelnuts, because they have anti-inflammatory properties.

Decrease foods like chicken, beef or pork,  because they are typically the most inflammatory foods.

Lastly, don’t take these tips to the extreme.

The suggestions are merely for consideration in tweaking your lifestyle.

If you’re interested in decreasing chronic inflammation, try one or two anti-inflammatory focused meals per week.

If they work out for you and your family without much fuss, continue the pattern while meeting all nutritional needs, such as calcium and protein intake.

Eat with attentiveness and the rest will fall into place.