Back in 2004, before iPads, Time Magazine published an article blaming inflammation for heart attacks, cancer, Alzheimer’s, you name it. So what IS inflammation and how does it do good or evil? I always liked a good campfire. Should I not?
Now. Injury aside, there are also lots of pro-inflammatory troublemakers that are continuously released in our bloodstream. They’re killer whales that attack healthy cells, blood vessels, and tissues rather than protecting them. And while we can’t live without acute inflammation, this chronic inflammation can wreak havoc over time (like a slow poison), and it rears it’s not-so-purdy head with type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, arterial plaque buildup, heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, digestive disorders such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, allergies, migraines, and fibromyalgia.
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid (more details here)
- Common Cooking Oils
- Refined Grains (white bread, white rice, white pasta, cakes, cookies, etc.)
- Dairy products
- Trigger Foods that exacerbate symptoms (many people are sensitive to wheat gluten, corn, and eggs)
- Food Additives
- Trans Fats
Certain people and certain diseases may be more sensitive to certain foods. Wheat and dairy tend to be especially common triggers for Crohn’s disease, and meat and alcohol for ulcerative colitis.
People who are chronically stressed maintain a low-grade level of inflammation. So even when food isn’t triggering the inflammation, the body has a harder time fighting illness and disease. Inflammation can be reduced by (obviously) avoiding trigger foods and inflammatory foods, and keeping portion sizes small at mealtime. Overeating also encourages inflammation. A plant-based plan not only avoids the major inflammation triggers, but is especially low in calories, and even includes many of the foods helpful at reducing inflammation.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Gulp Down (more details here)
- Tart cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and lots of other lip-smacking fruits
- Sweet Potatoes
- Broccoli, and most green and aromatic veggies like onions and garlic
- Herbs & Spices: Basil, Cayenne Pepper, Chili Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Turmeric
- Cocoa (70% or more) and Licorice
- Fermented foods (tempeh, miso, etc.)
- Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Sunflower Seeds, Flaxseeds
- Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as hemp oil and flax oil