It has now become clear that inflammation plays a causal role in many chronic diseases including – heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
What is inflammation?
There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is the body’s short-term immune response to infection or injury. In this response, pro-inflammatory compounds recruit white blood cells to nourish and repair the site of injury or infection. Acute inflammation is an essential and normal healing response for good health.
Chronic inflammation is a low-grade or systemic inflammation that can play a long-term role in your health. This condition arises when a malfunctioning immune system mistakenly initiates a pro-inflammatory immune response in the absence of apparent need. This ongoing inflammatory response damages the body and leads to disease.
The good news is that simple diet and lifestyle changes can help us to manage or reduce the risk of inflammation. Every day events like exposure to environmental pollutants, smoking, stress, poor sleep and lack of exercise can all contribute to chronic inflammation. Dietary choices can also play a role.
The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Refined carbohydrates, saturated and trans-fats and sugar are all inflammatory triggers. White rice, bread and potatoes, chips, crackers, cookies, pastries, red meat, sodas, alcohol and fast foods are examples of pro-inflammatory foods.
My personal eating plan for chronic pain management is based on Dr. Andrew Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Take note that the anti-inflammatory diet is not a diet in the popular sense – it’s not a weight loss plan (although by nature of its food choices, it can help with weight loss) nor is it intended to be a short-term way of eating. It’s a life-long eating strategy designed to reduce inflammation, the risks of age-related illnesses and to optimize health and wellness.
The anti-inflammatory diet emphasizes the consumption of fish (omega-3 fatty acids), beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, the exclusion of refined and processed foods and the minimal use of meat, dairy and sugar. It’s an eating plan that has much in common with traditional Mediterranean and Japanese diets, which are associated with longevity and disease prevention.
Do you want to boost your immune system and optimize your health? Consider the anti-inflammatory eating plan!