Before I started my cancer healing journey I knew nothing about inflammation and how much of impact this has on our bodies. When one hears sayings like you are what you eat, we usually disregard them and shrug our shoulders without further interest. Our bodies are such a beautiful creation, so perfect and resilient yet very vulnerable to our lifestyle and what we choose to practice in our daily routine. In my healing journey, I was able to learn what is inflammation and how our food can cause it or reduce it. So let’s explore more shall we?
What is inflammation?
According to Harvard Health Publishing Medical School, “Inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect itself against harm. There are two types: acute and chronic.” Acute refers to when we cut our skin or hit our knees and our immune system responds to heal the affected area. Chronic, however, refers to the response of unwanted toxins in our bodies. Toxins such as cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, processed & fatty foods, chemicals, pathogens, etc.
How do we know if our body is dealing with inflammation?
When an inflammation occurs in your body, many different immune system cells may be involved. They release various substances, known as inflammatory mediators. A simple blood test would give you a broad spectrum result of your current state. A CRP (C-reactive protein) test is a common inflammation marker usually requested by your medical provider. If you haven’t done it, request it next time you go see your doctor. Also, remember lab tests and scans only provide information about your current state but most definitely do not predict where you are headed. You are in control of your health by the choices you make today.
How do we get rid of chronic inflammation?
Many factors may affect inflammation and your diet is most certainly one of them. It is known that certain foods can exacerbate chronic inflammation. Extended periods of inflammation cause cell damage and can lead to increase risk of chronic illnesses such as cancer, as well as heart disease, arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease, and more.
Thankfully, there’s a lot we can do ourselves to help us prevent those extended chronic inflammation periods. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” a well known Hippocrates philosophy, which, unfortunately, has been highly neglected in the medical industry. According to this published article, many doctors’ knowledge of nutrition is rudimentary and most feel much more comfortable with drugs than foods. In a way, we can’t blame them since this is not a usually covered area in medical school. However, let’s explore which foods are inflammation friendly and which are not.
These are typical foods known to increase inflammation and I ask for you to limit or take away from your diet now.
Trans fats.- a form of unsaturated fat known to cause a number of negative health effects. Hydrogenated oils usually used to increase the shelf life of processed foods. Here are some studies: (1, 2, 3, 4).
Saturated fats.- usually found in animal products like meat, cheese, and milk as well as coconut oil and palm oil. I personally use coconut oil in moderation.
Junk food.- fast foods, frozen meals, pretzels, potato chips, etc.
Refined carbohydrates.- healthy carbohydrates are part of a balanced diet, stay away from cakes, cookies, white bread.
Processed sugar.- added sugars are harmful and can increase inflammation. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are a big no for my diet. Studies here: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Red & Processed Meats.- includes red meats, pork, hot dogs, lunch meats, sausages, bacon, etc. Studies here: (1, 2, 3).
The following foods provide nutrition and help reduce inflammation. I hope you implement them into your diet now.
Antioxidants.- may reduce your inflammation, boost your immunity and reduce the risk of disease. Foods like, blueberries, strawberries, goji berries, raspberries, blackberries, lucuma, dark chocolate, kale, red cabbage, spinach, beets, broccoli, etc. Studies here: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11,).
Vitamin C.- vitamin c in citrus fruit and vegetables are known to fight inflammation. Foods like Camu Camu, (the most powerful source of natural Vitamin C in the world) lemons, papaya, kiwi, peppers, guavas, thyme, parsley, etc. Studies here: (1, 2, 3, 4).
Omega 3 fats.- found in flaxseeds, walnuts and fatty fish- a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Fish like salmon, sardine, mackerel, and anchovies. Studies here: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
Turmeric.- this amazing spice is known to reduce inflammation related to arthritis, diabetes, and more. Studies here: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).
Avocados.- rich in monounsaturated fat and high in vitamin E (two anti-inflammatory properties linked to a reduced risk of joint damage). Studies here: (1, 2).
Prebiotic foods.- good gut bacteria is vital for immune function. Here are some good examples of prebiotic foods, onions, garlic, legumes, asparagus, leeks, radishes, flax and chia seeds. Studies here: (1, 2, 3).
Probiotic foods.- contain healthy bacteria like yogurt, kefir, tempeh, miso, kombucha, and sauerkraut. Studies here: (1, 2, 3).
It is evident that following a plant-based diet can help reduce inflammation and your risk to develop a chronic illness. In my healing journey, I have found following a diet filled with fruits and vegetables to be a very rewarding lifestyle.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog article and I pray it helps you in your journey. As always I welcome your comments and I appreciate you sharing your experiences with me. Sending much love and healing prayers to you and your loved ones.
“A healthy outside starts from the inside” Robert Urich