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What is Inflammation?

By December 1, 2013March 14th, 2016Beverages, Nutrition Information, Recipes

photo 1It has been a great weekend of family and fun for me here in Boulder.  I have been eating lots of delicious foods and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. I hope you enjoyed your friends, family and feast!  You can see me at the top of the mountain in Chautauqua Park here in Boulder.  All I can say is WOW.

As long as you bring your diet back into balance starting today, whatever you have eaten over the weekend will be no problem. But if the indulgence continues then you may wind up with aches and pains from inflammation.  Our body gets easily inflamed from eating sugar laden, processed meals eaten on the run.  Don’t let this happen. Start today eating plenty of the foods mentioned below to get back into balance which will keep your body from getting inflamed. You can even try the Anit-Inflammation Latte!

What exactly is inflammation?

Inflammation is a  natural response in your body which helps you to heal. It helps your body respond to stress.  When you get a cold, your body responds with inflammation in the form of a fever that helps you fight the virus. The inflammation (fever) does its job, gets rid of the virus, and you get better.  The same thing happens when you cut yourself.  Immune cells are called to the site through the blood stream. The blood vessels near the site become miraculously permeable and the site becomes warm and red due to the increased blood flow (warm, hence inflammation).  This helps with the healing.

Inflammation is a part of the body’s natural defense system against injury and disease. The problem is when we have chronic inflammation, which means we are inflamed all the time.  Instead of protecting our body it starts to break it down causing pain, premature aging and is the root cause heart disease and cancer.  It may be the root cause of all degenerative disease.

Chronic inflammation shows up in our body many ways.  It could be as simple as acne or as drastic as heart disease.  Symptoms like pains in your joints, acid reflux even fatigue along with osteoporosis and arthritis are all the result of inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is caused primarily by 2 things, what goes into your mouth and your stress levels.   The biggest causes of inflammation are trans fats, high glycemic foods (refined carbohydrates) and chemicals. These substances stimulate the inflammation response in your body.

BPA ( Bisphenol A), a compound found in plastic bottles and cans can cause inflammation. I  have personally experienced this type of inflammation.  Two years ago when traveling in India, I was drinking bottled water from bottles made of this type of plastic.  To make matters worse they were sitting out in the very hot sun causing more of the BPA’s to leach into the water.   The result was after 2 weeks I had aches in my joints.  This combined with not enough green vegetables left me very inflamed.  This good thing is once I got home, stopped taking in the BPA’s and increased my alkalizing green vegetables I recovered within a week.

Basically you can keep your inflammation down by limiting sugar, reducing the chemicals you are exposed to, leaving out the processed foods, reducing stress, eating in a relaxed environment and getting enough sleep and sunshine.

The right diet  can greatly reduce inflammation in your body.  Yes, there are drugs on the market to ease your pain and allergies but they weaken your immunity and have side effects.  I prefer to use foods to keep my inflammation down and to heal instead.  

Luckily nature has provided us with some amazing anti-inflammatory foods that are really yummy.  Besides their ability to reduce inflammation, they also supply us with loads of essential vitamins and minerals that allow our cells to function optimally and  boost our immunity.

 

Here is my list of 10 excellent anti-inflammatory foods.  Eat more of these: 

1.  Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables have the largest doses of inflammation busting phytochemicals and antioxidants.  I also like cruciferous vegetables.  which contain helpful compounds like sulforaphane.   Almost all vegetables contain anti-inflammatory compounds.  If you have joint pains or digestive problems , the vegetables you may want to stay away from are the nightshade family of plants.   These include tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants which have a chemical alkaloid called solanine that may trigger pain in some people and thus synthesize the symptoms of inflammation. My favorite anti-inflammatory vegetables are kale, Swiss Chard, broccoli and cauliflower.

2.  Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 Fatty Acids are essential fatty acids found mostly in fish oils. They contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which are essential building blocks for the body’s anti-inflammatory agents and for turning off the body’s pro-inflammatory cytokines.  DHA might just be the most effective nonprescription supplement to suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines. Most Americans consume too many omega 6 fatty acids so it is important to incorporate more omega 3’s.  These can be found in, salmon, anchovies, sardines and mackerel. You also get Omega 3’s from flax, chia and hemp seeds and oil.

3.  Berries

Berries are wonderful antioxidants. Blueberries, raspberries, acai berries, goji berries, cranberries and strawberries are high in the anti-inflammatory antioxidants needed to help fight chronic inflammation.

4.  Onions & Garlic

Onions & Garlic are loaded with sulfur compounds and quercitin that, besides relieving inflammation directly, inhibit enzymes that cause joint inflammation. The stronger the onion, the more phenols and flavonoids. Researchers have found that the strongest is the yellow onion, containing eleven times the flavonoids than the yellow. The shallot contains the most antioxidant activity.  Garlic has long been a folk remedy for colds and illness, and its anti-inflammatory properties are amazing! Garlic contains sulfur compounds that stimulate your immune system to fight disease. Onions and garlic are great in soups, grain dishes and sautéed greens.

5.  Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil is antiviral, antibacterial, and kills parasites. Inflammation begins with a bad inner environment and germs. Coconut oil can improve the inner environment and help get rid of the germs.

6.  Oregano

Oregano is one of the most magical herbs in your garden. It is an anti-inflammatory and a powerful antioxidant. It is also good for reducing candida yeast. The best form of oregano is probably the essential oil.  It is really strong tasting so you can buy it in capsules and eat it with food or rub the oil on the bottom of your feet when you go to sleep.

7.  Probiotics

Probiotics help clean up bad bacteria in the gut which can cause inflammation not only in the gut but in the whole body. Recent studies show that probiotics reduce both C-reactive protein and cytokines (which turn on the inflammatory response).  I like to have Raw Sauerkraut with all my meals.  Raw sauerkraut or kim chi contain live bacteria  which are intensely interested in cleaning up you digestive system crowding out the bad bacteria which cause inflammation.  They populate your intestines with the good bacteria you need for proper digestion. You can take a probiotic supplement or get it from raw fermented vegetables.

8.  Olive Oil

Olive oil has a rich supply of polyphenols that protects the heart and blood vessels from inflammation. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are also turned into anti-inflammatory agents by the body that can lower occurrences of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

9.  Turmeric

Turmeric is a yellow spice most often associated with Indian food, curry and yellow mustard. It is a very powerful anti-inflammatory that can safely quash pain and swelling. It contains a powerful, non-toxic compound called curcumin. Studies found that turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects are on a par with potent drugs such as hydrocortisone and Motrin, but yet having none of their side effects.

10.  Nettle Leaves

Nettle leaves has been shown to suppress the pro-inflammatory cytokine. It has been show to be very effective against allergies particularly hay fever because it contains anti-inflammatory agents including histamine, choline, acetylcholine and serotonin.  Nettle improves elimination of wastes via the kidneys, in particular uric acid, making it a useful cleansing remedy and helpful in gout. You can find dried nettle leaf tea in your health food store . Click here for nettles and ginger tea

Eating anti-inflammatory foods—and avoiding inflammatory ones—can make weight loss easier, slow down the aging process, and prevent disease .Eating sugar and processed foods may be easier and more convenient but over time it will cause you to age and lose your vitality.

Transitioning to a healthy diet may be challenging at the beginning because it is new, but once you get into the habit of feeding your body healthy nutritious foods you will discover your body loves it.  You can take a proactive position to reduce chronic inflammation by incorporating these foods into your life.

Anti-Inflammation Latte

1 cup almond or coconut milk  (unsweetened)
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated or very finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried turmeric
dash of black pepper
1 tsp organic coconut oil
5 drops liquid stevia or 1 tsp raw honey
Cinnamon for garnish

  • Gently warm the almond or coconut milk on the stove with the ginger.
  • Pour milk into a mini blender like a Nutribullet or into a glass jar or measuring cup where you can whisk the ingredients together
  • Add the remaining ingredients except the cinnamon
  • Blend or whisk the mixture on high speed, enough for the oil to emulsify, which creates a creamy and rich consistency
  • Pour into a cup and sprinkle with cinnamon

 

 

 

3 Comments

  • Robin says:

    Which onion is the most powerful? This article say’s :
    Researchers have found that the strongest is the yellow onion, containing eleven times the flavonoids than the yellow.

    • Ingrid says:

      Hi Robin
      All the onions are great. The yellow ones have more sulphur which nourish our cells and mitochondria. The red ones contain a higher amount of antioxidants and perhaps more flavonoids. I like to use a wide variety of vegetables since they each have different properties. I use both red and yellow onions in my dishes.

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