Inflammation is your immune systems response to injury or infection. The inflammation process cleans out damaged tissue and sets the stage for healing to begin. But, if something interferes with the complex chemical balances of the immune system, the body fails to produce anti-inflammatory responses. In this case, inflammation becomes chronic.
Dr. Marissa is concerned about the negative effects that come with chronic inflammation. The effects range from allergies to life threatening diseases. Headaches, back pain and neck pain may also be a sign of chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation also often manifests as an autoimmune condition, such as fibromyalgia, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The body reacts to a non-existent threat and attacks its own tissues.
In other cases, chronic inflammation can be mild enough to go unnoticed yet cause significant cumulative damage over time to one or more organs or systems. The possible results can include cancer, heart disease, diabetes or osteoporosis.
The food factor
Along with regular chiropractic care, you can reduce or prevent out of control inflammation with smart food choices.
Research tells us that what we eat is directly associated with blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). This protein is a key marker for measuring inflammation. A typical modern diet – heavy in refined grains, sweets and other processed foods – correlates with high CRP levels. Obesity, also rampant today, leads to higher levels of chronic inflammation (Arch Intern Med 2007;167:31-9)
Eating to prevent chronic inflammation is not complicated; an anti inflammatory diet is in line with the smart food choices Dr. Marissa already recommends for patients to maintain optimal wellness.
Vegetables are rich in antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E, and Selenium. These nutrients protect cells from damaging chemicals called free radicals. In fact, antioxidant therapy shows great promise as a treatment for immunodeficiency conditions that arise from chronic inflammation. Intake of the antioxidants vitamins C and E, and Selenium is associated with lower blood levels of CRP (Eur J Clin Nutr 2008;62:127-37).
The essential fatty acids- omega-3 and omega-6- are so named because they cannot be manufactured by the body. They must be obtained from food sources. Omega-6 functions to activate the immune system and trigger inflammation. On the other hand, omega-3 converts into powerful compounds that counteract the inflammatory response. Many modern health problems are blamed on a disproportionately high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the western diet.
Omega-3 known as DHA is an important building block of the brain. DHA consumption is critical to prevent inflammation of the brain, a precursor to many diseases of the central nervous system.
Fish is the most prominent source of omega-3, particularly DHA. Choose wild fish over farmed fish to maximize the anti-inflammatory effects since the DHA comes from algae and plankton in their natural diet.
Tumeric- Responsible for curry powders yellow color- has been used in traditional Indian medicine for centuries to counteract inflammation. Modern research confirms that turmeric is particularly beneficial against rheumatoid arthritis
Ginger is as effective at reducing swelling as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Research shows that it suppresses certain biomechanical processes of chronic inflammation. Unlike conventional drugs, however, ginger has minimal side effects.
Trans Fats and Sugar: Two to Avoid
When it comes to preventing chronic inflammation, two foods are best avoided altogether: Trans fats and sugar.
Trans fats are already an infamous nutritional villain. They are synthetically produced by adding hydrogen atoms to certain unsaturated fat molecules- known as hydrogenated oils. A revealing study demonstrated up to 73 percent higher levels of the inflammation marker CRP in individuals in the top 25 percentile of trans fat consumption. Common sources of trans fat to avoid include margarine, vegetable shortening and many processed foods.
Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup found in many processed foods and drinks triggers spikes in blood sugar. These spikes lead to high insulin levels in the bloodstream. This causes hormonal changes that throw the immune systems out of balance and encourage inflammation. Research confirms that heavy consumption of sugar increases inflammation while a low-sugar diet can dramatically lower it.
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