Food and Inflammation
Our genetic makeup and lifestyle factors, like lack of exercise, stress and exposure to toxins like secondhand smoke, are all contributors to chronic inflammation. But our dietary choices play a big role, too. Dr. Mark Sachse, D.C., Chiropractic Director of Chiro One Wellness Center of Andersonville, explains that some foods actually create inflammation-reducing hormones called prostaglandins, while other foods do the opposite, generating hormones that increase inflammation in our bodies.
"The foods that produce the most inflammatory prostaglandins are those that are processed or contain trans fats, sugars and corn sweeteners," Dr. Mark explains. "But when we eat foods high in Omega 3, vitamins A, C and E, it helps our body make prostaglandins that lower inflammation." In simple terms, the body can produce “good” (inflammation-reducing) or “bad” (inflammation-causing) prostaglandins in response to certain foods.
Fresh organic fruits and vegetables, salmon, walnuts, green tea, kelp, pineapple, papaya, ginger and turmeric are all vitamin-rich foods and spices that are part of an anti-inflammatory diet plan. However, pre-packaged foods are a no-no. "Whenever possible, avoid processed foods and the drive thru," says Dr. Mark. The strictest version of an anti-inflammatory diet eliminates all gluten, caffeine, alcohol, Aspartame, Splenda, sorbitol and MSG.
Dr. Mark has great advice for patients shopping for the anti-inflammatory diet. "I always tell my patients to imagine grocery shopping with their great grandmother," Dr. Mark says. "If you are putting something in the cart that she doesn't recognize as food, it probably isn't and you shouldn't be eating it."
Chronic Inflammation is Serious
The body's response to injury and outside irritants naturally causes inflammation, some of which is necessary. (Think infection fighting.) But too many irritants, regular high-fat foods, too much body fat and smoking, increases inflammation and disease risk. Experts say chronic inflammation can damage heart valves and brain cells, increase risk of cancers, trigger strokes or depression, or promote resistance to insulin, which can lead to diabetes.
Anti-Inflammatory for Weight Loss?
Although the anti-inflammatory diet is not designed for weight loss, many people do lose weight because their food choices are so much healthier. Dr. Mark notes there are many excellent online resources and books and he particularly recommends Hold the Sugar, an anti-inflammatory diet and recipe blog, and The Innate Diet™ & Natural Hygiene, by James L. Chestnut.