Written by Melbourne Naturopath Bree Jenner
Our bodies have an innate intelligence to heal itself. In response to trauma or infection, inflammation is the protective mechanism that responds by rushing nutrients and nourishment to the site, and appears as redness, swelling and heat. Chronic inflammation, however, can be a case of too much of a good thing, with researchers linking inflammation to more serious health concerns such as diabetes, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune conditions.
Diet and lifestyle can play an integral part in managing the inflammatory response. Below is a table outlining some key aspects that you can incorporate into your daily routine. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but certainly a positive place to start, and changes can be quite powerful.
Inflammation can arise from an immune response that develops in the gut, where normally tightly bound gap junctions that line the gut wall become inflamed and prone to ‘leaks’. This allows larger molecules to enter the blood stream, eliciting different and inappropriate immune responses. This is when other body systems can become affected such as skin irritation, allergies, brain fog or mood changes, autoimmune conditions and pain responses.
It is also important to be aware that there can be other underlying factors contributing to inflammatory health conditions and should be addressed. If you feel that chronic inflammation is hindering your opportunities in achieving greater wellbeing, make an appointment with your natural health practitioner. Together you can feel supported in unraveling the underlying cause of your health concern, and start working towards a healthier you!
• Cold water, oily fish
– Salmon and Tuna (fresh)
– Mackerel and Sardines (fresh / canned in brine)
• Nuts and seeds
– Flaxseeds or oil
– Chia seeds or oil
• Leafy green vegetables
• Nuts and seeds
• Olive oil
Antioxidant rich foods
• Highly pigmented fruits and vegetables – eat the rainbow
• Dark leafy greens
• Citrus fruits
• Black and green teas
• Allium foods – garlic, onions, chives, etc.
• Brassica vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage
Foods high in fibre
• Nuts and seeds (especially chia and flax)
• Fruits and vegetables with the skin left on
Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices
• Drink at least 1.5-2L water each day
• Increase water intake with intense exercise
• Decreases cortisol, improves circulation and supports healthy BMI.
Good quality rest, relaxation and sleep
• Restores, repairs, refocuses and re-energises.
• Reduces cortisol and regulates leptin to maintain healthy BMI.
Food high in trans fats, or excess omega-6 oils
• Red meats
• Dairy products
• Hydrogenated oils
• Some seed oils
– Corn oil
– Cottonseed oil
– Grapeseed oil
– Peanut oil
– Safflower oil
– Soy oil
– Sunflower oil
Artificial preservatives, flavours, colours and sweeteners
• Baked goods with extended shelf life
• High-fructose corn syrup
Refined carbohydrates and sugars
• White bread, pasta, rice, noodles (including gluten free options that are highly refined)
• Lollies, chocolate, soft drinks, flavoured milks, fruit drinks, energy drinks
• Can be pro-inflammatory regardless of whether it is generally well tolerated
• Found in wheat, barley, oats, rye and used as an additive in some prepackaged foods
• Foods that have been found to illicit a reaction in an individual can be pro-inflammatory (eg. Dairy, wheat, eggs, seafood, artificial additives and sweeteners).
• Stress increases cortisol which can have an inflammatory effect on the body.
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