I subscribe to a newsletter from Harvard Medical School. The most recent issue reminds us that inflammation, while an important part of our body’s healing system, can be dangerous, if there is too much of it. Inflammation is involved in atherosclerosis, heart disease, strokes and even some types of dementia. Below is a link to the on-line version of the article.
The article lists seven dietary steps that will help fight inflammation. Quoting from the article –
What you eat may fan the fires of inflammation. With some small changes — no crazy new foods involved — you can douse them. Here are some suggestions:
- Get an oil change. Eating a lot of saturated fats and/or trans fats is linked with higher levels of inflammation. Swap them for olive oil, which has potent anti-inflammatory properties, or polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fats from fish.
- Don’t be so refined. The bolus of blood sugar that accompanies a meal or snack of highly refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, French fries, sugar-laden soda, etc.) increases levels of inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Eating whole-grain bread, brown rice, and other whole grains smooths out the after-meal rise in blood sugar and insulin, and dampens cytokine production.
- Promote produce. The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the lower the burden of inflammation. Why? They contain hundreds, perhaps thousands, of substances that squelch inflammation-rousing free radicals; some act as direct anti-inflammatory agents.
- Go nuts. Adding walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and other nuts and seeds to your snacks and meals is another tasty way to ease inflammation.
- Cocoa lovers rejoice? In laboratory studies, cocoa and dark chocolate slow the production of signaling molecules involved in inflammation. The trick is to get them without too much sugar and fat.
- Alcohol in moderation. A drink a day seems to lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a powerful signal of inflammation. Too much alcohol has the opposite effect on CRP.
- Spice it up. Herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, basil, pepper, and many others have anti-inflammatory properties.
If you adopt an anti-inflammatory diet, you probably won’t see or feel any different. Angina won’t suddenly disappear or heart failure reverse itself. But you will be doing your heart, arteries, and the rest of you a huge favor that will pay off in many ways.
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