Food and Inflammation
Eating a variety of foods in just the right quantities should keep your body healthy and working in top condition. At least this is how the system is supposed to work but unfortunately there are times when things can and will go wrong.
People need food to fuel their body but sometimes the foods which should be good for your body can actually cause you to become ill from their ingestion. If you continue to consume these foods then this illness can become chronic. This is the theory that rests behind some forms of autoimmune based illness and arthritis.
How well do you know your foods? There are two foods in the opening photo that are more likely to increase inflammation. Can you guess which 2 they are? Give your best guess then find the correct answer at the foot of this article.
1. Hamburger and peas.
2. Hamburger and yam.
3. Hamburger and white potato.
4. Peas and yam.
5. Peas and white potato.
6. Yam and white potato.
Studies indicate that autoimmune system illness such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic lupus, Scleroderma, as well as some cardiovascular disease may begin with an allergic reaction.
An immune system response by the body can begin with something so simple as a food sensitivity which then initiates an inflammatory response within the body. The immune system mistakes the body's normal healthy tissue as an invader and in error launches an all out attack on this suspected intruder.
The immune system should protect the body from harm by only attacking threats to the body such as bacteria or cancer but rather than defending the immune system it instead sets out on a relentless mission to damage and destroy the healthy tissue that it suspects is an intruder.
Where inflammatory disorders are concerned diet does make a difference. It is believed that some types of chronic inflammation particularly that of Rheumatoid arthritis may begin with a dietary trigger. There are a number of theories as to why this process of chronic inflammation occurs. One theory is that the health issues can be caused by an allergic type response of the body to specific foods or pollutants.
Because we continue to expose ourselves to the offending product or products, the inflammation remains within the body and it becomes chronic. The longer that this chronic heat affects the body then the more damage usually occurs from it and the more disabling the illness becomes.
By removing the triggering agent a person may be able to substantially reduce the symptoms of their illness, and in some instances, even induce a total remission. Studies have proven that this is indeed possible.
Note on the photo: For those with arthritis or other chronic inflammatory illness eating raw green peppers could cause a reaction. They are a member of the nightshade family of plants and a high risk food for people with sensitivities.
There is no debating the fact that there are foods which can cause our body serious harm and there are foods which can help us to heal from ill health.
We are each individual so although there are food guidelines there is no one platform that works for everyone. It is important for you to know which foods can help you reach your optimum health. This means research with a process of trial and error to get it right.
Years ago we knew that fruits and vegetables were important in our diet but did not completely understand the important role that antioxidants play in our diet. Good fats and bad fats were terms that simply did not exist yet today we know how an important a role each of these can play in our diet.
So which foods could be the trigger for a flare? A top suspect in the cause of inflammation is a diet overly rich in omega 6 fats which are found largely in red meat and other high in fat products such as oils and margarine. Studies show that cox-2 enzymes within the body cause more inflammation when there is a higher imbalance between the omega-6 fatty acids and the omega-3 fatty acids.
By decreasing our intake of foods containing omega-6 fats (saturated and transfats) and increasing our intake of omega-3 fats (such as those found in flax seed or oily fish like salmon and tuna) we can effectively reverse this imbalance. Broiling and poaching rather than frying meat and eating only lean white meats and fish in place of beef can greatly help to decrease the risk of inflammation caused by a fat imbalance.
Other suspected dietary triggers that rank high for these illnesses are dairy products, sugar, refined or highly processed foods.
To discover if these products are the possible reason for your chronic health issues, simply eliminate the suspected products from your diet (this means ALL of the suspect foods) and within a few weeks your symptoms will subside if these products are the root cause of your illness.
It can be a quite the balancing act to discover the foods you should avoid. Investigating dietary triggers can be a slow process but it is an avenue well worth investigating into if it is indeed the root cause of your illness. Living to our optimum level of good health is so very important.
Foods that can be a possible dietary trigger are citrus fruits, nuts, corn, wheat, oats, rye, eggs, sugar, salt, and coffee. Also nightshade plants such as tomatoes, white potatoes, tobacco, red and green peppers.
The only way for a person to discover if one or more of these products are causing their illness is to eliminate them from your diet plan and then watch for any improvements to your health. Each person is unique in the food or food groups that they may be sensitive to. Until you discover which ones negatively affect your health it can be a process of trial and error to eliminate them.
Foods That Reduce Inflammation:
*Omega 3 rich foods: Fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, flax seed
*Antioxidant rich foods: Green leafy vegetables, green tea, berries.
A diet mainly consisting of fruits, vegetables, rice, fish and beans may be the answer to preventing the painful flares of some forms of arthritis and other immune system based illnesses.
A diet high in antioxidants can help to reduce many heath issues. Antioxidants combine with the free radicals within the body and render them harmless. Free radicals are those molecules within our body that for one reason or another are incomplete.
The free radicals try to become complete by stealing electrons from complete molecules within our system. Unfortunately when they do this they then cause the donating molecule to become unstable, or to in effect, become another free radical. It then begins an attempt to in turn make itself once again complete.
Antioxidants are stable or complete molecules that no matter whether or not they donate one of their electrons to another molecule will remain stable. They can give an electron to free radicals without damaging themselves so they effectively stop the chain of damage from occurring. By stopping this cell damage we can effectively slow the effects of aging and those inflammatory based illnesses connected with this process.
Diet changes can definitely alter the degree of chronic inflammation within some forms of autoimmune based illness. Rheumatoid arthritis and Gout are two forms of arthritis that have been proven to be directly affected by diet. If you suspect that a change in the foods you consume may improve your health then it is an area well worth investigating.
There are ways to get around the pain. Avoid processed foods as much as possible as these eliminate your ability to control the ingredients within them. Preservatives, salt, sugar, fat, MSG, and food coloring can all be factors in an immune system reaction.Inflammation is often accompanied by pain. Eliminate the inflammation and you effectively reduce or eliminate the pain.
It's a personal dilemma. Individuals are sensitive to specific foods or food groups while other people can eat these same foods without issue. The point is to know which foods are appropriate for your health circumstance.
Whether the inflammation is in your muscle, joints, or intestinal tract, or internal organs, it is very important not too abuse inflamed tissue.
Stopping for a twenty minute total rest period during your day can give your body the needed break that it needs to recuperate. This means that rest is a very important part of recovering from a flare and it should be used as an active part of your therapy program. Just as exercise is necessary in maintaining maximum health so is rest as important in insuring a healthier body.
Lifestyle change is an important means of reducing inflammation. Alternate periods of exercise and rest to insure that you are not over using or under using your inflamed body tissue. Give your body the necessary time that it needs to heal but also do not allow muscle wasting or neglect to occur.
Use aides to reduce the amount of stress placed on your inflamed tissue. Splints, braces, a cane or a walker are all aides that can help to relieve the amount of stress that you put on your body. Use these items to help your body recover.
Adjust your mobility, cardio, and strength exercises to your current health level. Participating in a milder exercise program when you are more flared will insure that your body maintains it's optimum health until you are able to do more.
Walking, swimming, yoga and dance are all excellent exercise programs that can be easily adapted to a variety of fitness levels. Adapt them to yours. Experimenting with different natural therapy programs will allow you greater control over your inflammation. If you are able then do the maximum that you are able to without stressing inflamed tissue.
Rather than a long session of physical activity once a day do short periods of activity throughout the day. These bits and pieces of exercise will help to keep you healthy with less likelihood of causing further inflammation. Just as you would take breaks from physical activity also insure that you take breaks from being sedentary as well. Keep moving.
The two foods from my opening question are...
An imbalance between good and bad fats can increase inflammation. Fatty red meat is a major culprit. Switching to a diet rich in omega 3 rich fish, nuts, and lean white meat may help to prevent inflammation.
White potatoes are a nightshade plant and people who are prone to a food allergy may be sensitive to this plant group. It is recommended that people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other immune system inflammatory illness be very careful in their consumption of nightshade plants. Yam or mashed cauliflower can be used as a substitute for white potato.