The 411 on steering clear of chronic inflammation
Today we would like to touch on what may be a new topic for some people, and for others may be something they live with every day: the battle of chronic inflammation. Most people are familiar with surface level inflammation, which is usually associated with redness, heat, swelling, and pain and may occur after some type of injury or infection. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to try and heal itself. This, friends, is “good” inflammation.
However, when inflammation is persistent and serves no purpose, it is chronic inflammation and can be very damaging to the body. Chronic inflammation has been associated with diseases such as: heart disease, many cancers, and even Alzheimer’s. Stress, lack of exercises, genetic predisposition, and exposure to toxins can all be contributing factors to chronic inflammation. However, and this is the reality, your dietary choices play a big role in the battle of chronic inflammation. Here is where we loop chronic inflammation and why this may be an important topic for you. Beside the fact that chronic inflammation can lead to multiple diseases, it can also be the source of that pain you may be experiencing on a day to day basis. Currently we have a patient who had been experiencing chronic pain in their low back that would radiate down into their leg. The patient tried multiple protocols, but nothing provided lasting relief until they switched to an anti-inflammatory diet. After changes were made to the patient’s diet, they began to find more relief from that radiating pain they had been experiencing for so long.
After talking with the patient about the changes they made, and doing our own research, we at RHWC have come up with a list of suggestions on ways you can change your diet in order to reduce inflammation.
- Lot of Fruits and Veggies. Incorporating fruits and vegetables into the daily routine is something everyone can always use more of. There are tremendous benefits to eating fruits and vegetables, and what do you know…decreasing inflammation is one of them. Deeply pigmented vegetables are a great source of fiber as well as a natural anti-inflammatory, so you should try to include them in every meal. A few examples of some more pigmented fruits and vegetables include: berries, cherries, dark leafy greens (kale or arugula), broccoli, and beetroot.
- Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs. Turmeric, oregano, garlic, green tea, ginger, blueberries, and cayenne pepper are all great examples of supplements that are good for inflammation. Bioflavonoids and Polyphenols, which are found in these items, help to limit free radical production in the body.
- More Fish. The better choices are wild Pacific or Alaskan salmon. Try to avoid the Atlantic variety of fish unless they are organically farm-raised. If you can, add fish in at least one of your meals during the week but the more the better.
- Essential Fatty-Acids. The simplest, and safest, way to ingest these is to take omega-3 supplements. They have shown to be the one of the most effective steps in reducing and subduing chronic inflammation in the body. Fish oil or an algal source (for vegetarians) are a great alternative. You do need to make sure they have been tested and proven free of mercury and other heavy metals.
- Nuts and Seeds. A handful of nuts and seeds are a great addition to your daily diet, specifically walnuts and ground flaxseed which are another source of omega-3’s.
- Eliminate trans fat and hydrogenated oils, sugars, refined carbohydrates, and (for some people) gluten-containing food.
- Identify Food Sensitivities. When you are sensitive to a specific kind of food it can lead to inflammation. Gluten, eggs, dairy, soy and nuts are some of the most common dietary irritants, but many people are not aware of their food sensitivities. One way to detect a food sensitivity is to do what is called an “elimination diet.” You eliminate a food from your diet for about two weeks and then reintroduce it for 1 or 2 days. If you notice, after reintroducing, that item makes your stomach upset, or you feel bloated or gassy after eating it, you may have a sensitivity to the food source.These are just a few of the many ways to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory ingredients can help to reduce, and prevent, you from experiencing chronic inflammation. If you are not suffering from chronic inflammation, these tips are a terrific healthy addition to your diet, helping to keep your body at an optimum level. One thing to remember about an anti-inflammatory diet: it is not for weight loss or to follow for a short period of time. These are lifestyle changes you make to stay healthy and keep out of reach from inflammation. As always, it is best to consult with your physician if you are concerned about having chronic inflammation.
Have questions or interested in seeing a chiropractor? Give us a call at (408) 426-4936 at our Santa Clara office and we’ll be happy to help!