Low grade Inflammation and Your Patient
There is an ongoing battle within many of us between the pro inflammatory and oxidative processes versus the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant processes. Inflammation is the redness and swelling we sometimes see after an injury. Oxidation is like the rusting that occurs with metal or the browning that occurs with an apple that has been sliced and left open to the air. We need both these to fight infection. However, the inflammatory and oxidative compounds can become overwhelming and can wreak havoc when not contained. Like a smoldering fire inflammation and oxidation can make everything hurt and is the basis for chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Avoiding these diseases and slowing the aging process hinges on being able to stifle these inflammatory/oxidative processes.
Excess fat within the body is more than just a place to store calories. Researchers have demonstrated that fat releases many inflammatory products that can harm the body like tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Excess fat unfortunately increases inflammation and in turn increased inflammation can cause the accumulation of more fat. We must somehow break this vicious cycle and balance the body’s ability to fight infection yet avoid the damage of ongoing inflammation. There are several things that you can do to decrease the inflammatory/oxidative processes in your body. I’ll list each of these and explain their role.
Eating foods that are considered to have high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and avoiding those foods that would increase inflammation and oxidative processes is the key to controlling this area. Foods that elevate blood sugar levels and insulin levels are inflammatory in nature. Foods that decrease oxidation and cool the flames of inflammation are found as whole foods in nature.
Anti-inflammatory Foods: Fruits, vegetables, greens, seeds and beans. Foods that are colorful and foods that contain fats called omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation. Cold water fish like wild salmon and sardines are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These foods provide phytochemicals that will decrease inflammation in the body.
Inflammatory Foods: Refined processed foods, breads, cakes, pies, donuts, crackers, cookies, white rice, French fries, and pasta. These foods are toxic to your body causing inflammation/oxidation and should be avoided entirely. You wouldn’t smoke a cigarette knowing it’s bad for you, so why would you eat foods that would promote inflammation in your body?
Exercise: Consistent moderate exercise stimulates antioxidants within the body that help fight inflammation. Anti-inflammatory products like superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase help disengage oxidative free radicals in the body. Researchers following more than 4,000 middle-aged men and women for more than 10 years have demonstrated that regardless of BMI or weight, those who performed about 20 minutes of moderate exercise each day lowered markers of inflammation by at least 12%.
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