So what is going on with all the sniffles? Basically it is the immune system in overdrive, creating an inflammatory response to all the pollen in the air that is coming from the plant kingdom’s spring rebirth.
Inflammation is a vital part of a healthy immune response. It is what your body depends on to defend itself against bacteria, viruses, cancer cells, and is the prime engine for supporting the body’s ability to heal from injury. It is not a bad thing, and it is not a disease.
However, lifestyle, the food we eat, the exercises we get (or not), the daily stress we live with, can be a catalyst for creating a system out of balance. What you end up with is chronic, low-level inflammation. This in turn has been linked with diseases ranging from heart disease, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, some forms of cancer, and an accelerated aging process.
Lifestyle can directly impact the over production of pro-inflammatory chemicals. The foods that contribute to chronic inflammation include, lots of sugary or diet soft drinks, refined grains, processed meats, high fat, especially trans fats, and low quality omega 6 fats. Fat cells involved with being overweight produce those chemicals at a far greater rate than other cells. The kicker is excessive inflammation makes it more difficult to lose weight! Missing out on foods that contain nutrients that naturally reduce inflammation further compounds the issue.
What to do? Every day eat foods that help quench the fires of inflammation. Will it cure your seasonal allergy symptoms? Probably not in the short term. But what it will do is lessen the burden of the pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body over all and help minimize the risk of the diseases linked with inflammation and hopefully reduce the acceleration of the aging process.
There are other ways to keep the immune system and its inflammatory response in balance, but for today I would like to concentrate on the foods we eat. What follows next are 15 foods that will definitely help with the balance. Bon appetit!
15 FOODS THAT FIGHT INFLAMMATION
1. Extra-virgin olive oil
Extra-virgin olive oil – an unrefined type of olive oil – contains a substance called oleocanthol that interferes with two enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2) involved with inflammation in the body. A 2005 study in the journal Nature found that oleocanthol inhibits inflammation in a way that’s identical to the painkiller ibuprofen.
2. Red wine
Red wine contains a compound called resveratrol, which has been found to have both anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Scientists say the presence of this compound may help explain the so-called “French paradox” as to why the French who drink red wine with most meals – can eat a diet that’s actually quite high in saturated fats and yet have healthy arteries and hearts.
Generally, any beverage that is high in water content will have anti-inflammatory qualities, and tea is a great choice. Teas such as white tea, oolong, and green tea are full of catechins, antioxidant compounds that reduce artery plaque and inflammation. Tea also has been linked to reduced risks of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
4. Grass-fed beef
If you’re eating beef that’s not specifically sold as “grass-fed,” it means the cows were fed a high-calorie diet of corn and grain in an effort to fatten them quickly. Corn and grain are full of omega-6 fatty acids, which have been linked to inflammation. Grass-fed cows are leaner, and their meat is rich in healthy compounds such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E.
5. Oily fish
You’ve probably seen bottles of fish oil supplements in your pharmacy or grocery store, but you can get the same healthy boost from going straight to the source, as well. Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna are fish that have fatty oils throughout the fillets and in the area around the gut, rather than just in just the liver. Experts say eating one to two servings of these fish per week can reduce inflammation.
Cocoa contains anti-inflammatory compounds called flavanols, substances that reduce both blood clotting and inflammation in the body. Enjoying a cup or two of hot cocoa per week can help reduce inflammation, particularly if it’s made with skim or low-fat milk to keep down the drink’s content of saturated fats. Keep in mind, however, that trying to get your cocoa in the form of candy will load you up on saturated fats.
Cranberries are a powerhouse food, with studies linking the red berry to such benefits as inhibiting cancerous tumors and lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol. Scientists say the fact that the berries are rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants contribute to their healthful effects. As a bonus, cranberries also contain tannins, substances that can act as a natural antibacterial agent to fight urinary tract and E. coli infections.
A 2004 study found that people with stable coronary disease lowered the amount of inflammatory markers in their blood by drinking Concord grape juice. This finding was likely due to the presence of resveratrol in the grapes’ skins, which inhibits inflammation and may even help to fight cancer. Eating grapes – and not drinking them – also adds fiber to the grapes’ benefits and eliminates any added sugar.
Walnuts contain the “plant version” of omega-3 fatty acids, a substance known as ALA, which reduces inflammation in the body. In a 2004 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, scientists found that people who ate at least 2.3 ounces of walnuts and flaxseed (which also contains ALA) daily had reduced levels of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), a major indicator of a person’s risk for heart disease.
Another source of inflammation-fighting healthy fats is nuts—particularly almonds, which are rich in fiber, calcium, and vitamin E, and walnuts, which have high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fat. All nuts, though, are packed with antioxidants, which can help your body fight off and repair the damage caused by inflammation.
Broccoli is a virtual disease fighter, rich in such healthy compounds as beta-carotene, vitamin B folate, vitamin C, and the inflammation-fighting flavanoid kaempferol. Broccoli also contains sulforaphane, which experts say helps the body cleanse itself of cancer-causing compounds.
10. Dark leafy greens
Studies have suggested that vitamin E may play a key role in protecting the body from pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines—and one of the best sources of this vitamin is dark green veggies, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and collard greens. Dark greens and cruciferous vegetables also tend to have higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals—like calcium, iron, and disease-fighting phytochemicals—than those with lighter-colored leaves.
11. Whole grains
Consuming most of your grains as whole grains, as opposed to refined, white bread, cereal, rice, and pasta can help keep harmful inflammation at bay. That’s because whole grains have more fiber, which has been shown to reduce levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the blood, and they usually have less added sugar. Whole-grain foods provide the nutritional benefits of the entire grain. You get vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and phytochemicals - most of which are lost in the refining process. Also, whenever possible, consume grains in their whole form, rather than ones that are ground into flour. Intact grains break down more slowly, providing steady energy throughout the day.
Colorful peppers, tomatoes, squash, and leafy vegetables have high quantities of antioxidant vitamins and lower levels of starch.” Bell peppers are available in a variety of colors, while hot peppers (like chili and cayenne) are rich in capsaicin, a chemical that’s used in topical creams that reduce pain and inflammation. Juicy red tomatoes, specifically, are rich in lycopene, which has been shown to reduce inflammation in the lungs and throughout the body. Cooked tomatoes contain even more lycopene than raw ones, so tomato sauce works, too brilliant red color is a tip-off to its equally brilliant antioxidant properties: Beets (and beetroot juice) have been shown to reduce inflammation, as well as protect against cancer and heart disease, thanks to their hearty helping of fiber, vitamin C and plant pigments called betalains.
13.Ginger and turmeric
Turmeric, the ingredient that gives curry its yellow color, works in the body by helping to turn off a NF-kappa B, a protein that regulates the immune system and triggers the process of inflammation, researchers say. Its relative ginger, meanwhile, has been shown to reduce inflammation in the intestines when taken in supplement form.
14.Garlic, onions, and chives
There’s a good reason why these pungent vegetables are known for their immunity-boosting properties. In test-tube and animal studies, garlic has been shown to work similarly to NSAID pain medications (like ibuprofen), shutting off the pathways that lead to inflammation. Onions contain similar anti-inflammatory chemicals, including the phytonutrient quercetin and the compound allicin, which breaks down to produce free radical-fighting sulfenic acid.
15.Berries & Tart cherries
All fruits can help fight inflammation, because they’re low in fat and calories and high in antioxidants. But berries, especially, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties—possibly because of anthocyanins, the powerful chemicals that gives them their rich color. Studies have shown, for example, that red raspberry extract helped prevent animals from developing arthritis; that blueberries can help protect against intestinal inflammation and ulcerative colitis; and that women who eat more strawberries have lower levels of CRP in their blood.
Here is an interesting website that rates food based on an “InflammationFactor” or an IF Rating;