The inflammatory response is a complex cascade of biochemical reactions that recognize and respond to sites of injury. While we know that acute inflammation is a normal, protective process following pain or injury, chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is when the body has persistent, systemic inflammation causing damage to its own healthy tissue, rather than repairing it. Chronic inflammation is often at the core of a variety of unpleasant health conditions such as fibromyalgia, heart disease, and depression. Because of that, there is no shortage of research highlighting the positive effect good nutrition has on the body’s inflammatory response. This month, our Nutrition Experts examined the science behind the chronic inflammatory response to give you the key take home message on how to fight inflammation.
|Foods That PROMOTE Inflammation||Foods That FIGHT Inflammation|
|Refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta)||Legumes (beans, lentils)|
|Fried foods (French fries, donuts)||Green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach)|
|Soda and sweetened beverages||Nuts (almonds, walnuts)|
|Red and processed meat (hot dots, sausages)||Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines) or
Omega 3 nutritional supplements
|Shortening and lard||Fruit (strawberries, blueberries, cherries)|
|Dairy||Herbs (turmeric, cloves, ginger, rosemary)|
To help reduce inflammation, choose from foods on the right hand side of the table (above) and perhaps consider a plant-based diet. In recent years, plant-based, or “vegan” diets have created somewhat of a cult following, but what does the science say? While it can’t be confirmed whether or not the father of medicine, Hippocrates, ate a plant-based diet, he was definitely on to something when he said, “all diseases begin in the gut”. A recent study examined the relationship between those who ate a plant-based diet and their intestinal microbial profile. Interestingly the vegan gut profile appeared to be unique in that it had a reduction of pathobionts (harmful species) and an increase in protective species compared to the gut profiles of those consuming a conventional, Western diet. What about the effects on inflammation? Well, the study revealed that a reduced level of inflammation might be one of the major links between the plant-based gut and the perceived protective health benefits. Specifically, the study found that fecal microflora of those on a plant-based (raw, vegan) diet had a reduction of certain enzymes associated with toxicity and inflammation, when compared to the gut of those on a Western diet. These effects may possibly be due to the higher intake of dietary fiber in the plant-based diet.
While personal and cultural preferences may not facilitate a complete transition to a raw, plant-based diet, regularly choosing foods that fight inflammation, rather than promote inflammation, is a step in the right direction.
(1) Foods That Fight Inflammation. (2017, August 13). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation
(2) Glick-Bauer, M., Yeh, MC. (2014). The Health Advantage of a Vegan Diet: Exploring the Gut Microbiota Connection. Nutrients, 6, 4822-4838; doi 10.3390/nu6114822.
(3) Gregor, M. (2015, January 20). The Top Four Anti-Inflammatory Spices. Retrieved from https://nutritionfacts.org/2015/01/20/the-top-four-anti-inflammatory-spices/
(4) Gregory, M (2012, July 2). Fighting Inflammation in a Nut Shell. Retrieved from https://nutritionfacts.org/video/fighting-inflammation-in-a-nut-shell/
(5) Gregory, M (2014, July 10). Which Spices Fight Inflammation? Retrieved from https://nutritionfacts.org/video/which-spices-fight-inflammation/
(6) Sheridan, M (2017, April 21). “All Diseases Begin in the Gut – Hippocrates”. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/all-disease-begins-in-the-gut-hippocrates_us_58f9ed4ee4b086ce58980fc3