When the body recognizes anything that is foreign, such as a chemical or microbe, the immune system becomes activated. You may realize that your immune system helps fight off foreign invaders, but how? It does so by triggering inflammation, a heating up of the body overall. This is why we sometimes get a fever when we have the flu. In most cases, the inflammatory response set off by the immune system resolves once the invader has been handled. Sometimes, though, inflammation persists even in the absence of an obvious threat.
To live in a state of chronic inflammation means to live with a higher risk of some of the major diseases we see today. These include diabetes, depression, arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. According to numerous experimental studies, the most powerful tools we have to manage the inflammatory cycles of our bodies can be grown in our gardens. Here, we discuss which foods can hurt you and which hold the potential to help you heal form chronic inflammation.
Trying to keep it as simple as possible, we can explain inflammatory foods as those that negatively alter the microbiome of the gut. The bacteria that live in the gut interact with the immune system, so what we eat has a direct potential of triggering inflammation.
As you may have guessed, some of the foods that are easiest to get, such as fast food and processed foods, are the most inflammatory. Examples include:
- Soda and other beverages sweetened with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup
- Refined carbohydrates such a white bread and pasta
- Trans fats, which show up as partially hydrogenated ingredients
- Red meat and processed meat
- French fries and other fried foods
Foods that Combat Inflammation
Not only do you want to consume foods that interact well with the bacteria that live in the gut, but you also want foods that are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants reduce the number of free radicals that float through the body, causing inflammation wherever they go. Some items that Dr. Rabito may add to an anti-inflammatory diet may include:
- Vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, and kale
- Bell peppers and chili peppers
- Fresh fruit like grapes, cherries, and strawberries
- Healthy fats such as avocados and olive oil or avocado oil
- Fatty fish such as anchovies, sardines, and salmon
- Green tea
- Spices like cinnamon and turmeric
- Dark chocolate
It can be reassuring to learn that you hold the keys to health right in your home. It can also be overwhelming. You don’t have to go it alone. Contact our NYC office at (877) 703-3775 to consult with functional nutritionist Dr. Philip Rabito.