HOW TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION THROUGH YOUR DIET
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is part of the body’s innate immune response to irritants, toxins and pathogens. Acute inflammation is a healthy and crucial response to tissue injury, characterised by pain, heat, swelling and redness. This short-term process forms a vital part of our body’s ability to heal. However, modern dietary and lifestyle factors are leading many of us to be in state of perpetual inflammation, also referred to as ‘chronic inflammation’.
How can I tell if my body is inflamed?
The symptoms of chronic inflammation vary between individuals and often begin manifesting as generalised complaints such as headaches, skin irritation and digestive discomfort. When left unaddressed, symptoms develop and escalate over time. Chronic inflammation has been cited as an underlying factor in almost every chronic health disorder including cancer, dementia, auto-immune conditions, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, depression, and arthritis.
How does oxidative stress come into it?
The main cause for chronic inflammation is oxidative stress. This occurs when free radicals (molecules missing an electron) ‘steal’ an electron from our healthy tissues, thus damaging them. The body then mounts the inflammatory immune response to address this tissue damage. Antioxidants are phytochemicals such as flavonoids, catechins and polyphenols that neutralise free radicals, protecting against oxidative stress. Foods high in antioxidants form an important part of an anti-inflammatory diet.
The good news
The good news is that because chronic inflammation is mostly caused by dietary and lifestyle factors, it is largely under our control. While some lifestyle factors such as exposure to air pollution, water contamination and industrial chemicals are difficult to avoid, our food choices have a huge influence over our levels of inflammation and present a great opportunity to protect ourselves on a biochemical level.
Two dietary approaches
We can reduce inflammation with our diet in two main ways; reducing pro-inflammatory foods and increasing anti-inflammatory foods. We will explore both here.
Reducing inflammatory foods
Some foods are inherently pro-inflammatory, while others only cause inflammation in those who are intolerant or allergic to them. Food allergies create an acute inflammatory response, continual exposure to foods we are intolerant to will create chronic inflammation. If you have persistent digestive discomfort, it may be a good idea to get some food intolerance testing or to work with a nutritional therapist to guide you through a restricted diet to identify food intolerances and create a nourishing diet that does not include them.
Highly pro-inflammatory foods to simply avoid
Some foods are so pro-inflammatory that they cause the body more harm than good and should be fully avoided:
- Deep fried foods
- Refined sugar or sweets, foods and drinks containing high fructose corn syrup
- Trans fats (as found within margarine or long-life pastries. May be listed on ingredients as ‘partially hydrogenated oil’.)
- Processed meats
Pro-inflammatory foods to reduce
Some foods are pro-inflammatory and should only be enjoyed in small amounts:
- Red meat
- Refined grains (such as white bread, white wheat pasta, white rice)
- Vegetable oils (such as sunflower, soy and corn)
Powerful anti-inflammatory foods to increase
Anti-inflammatory foods are high in antioxidants:
- Dark leafy greens
- Fatty fish
- Olive oil
Nourish the gut
Eating processed, pro-inflammatory foods, or our personal trigger foods can compromise the integrity of the gut lining. When inflamed, the ‘tight junctions’ in the epithelial layer become looser and allow larger molecules to pass through the gut wall into the blood stream, thus increasing the overall level of inflammation in the body. Therefore, eating foods that support the health of the gut can also reduce systemic inflammation.
For gut health we need foods that are rich in pre-biotics (undigestible fibre that acts as a food source for beneficial bacteria):
- Flax seeds
We also need foods rich in probiotics (fermented sources of the beneficial bacteria themselves):
If you suffer from digestive discomfort and sense it may be causing systemic inflammation, consider booking Kamalaya’s Enriched Gut program. Recognising its pivotal role in regulating the inflammation of the body, the Enriched Gut program offers targeted therapy to rehabilitate and rejuvenate this vital organ, which can bring relief to a whole host of inflammatory symptoms.
Our Basic Detox program includes therapies designed to enhance the body’s natural capacity to release chemicals and toxins that are contributing to its inflammatory load. Again, this systemic revitalisation can provide many and varied health benefits from improved energy, glowing skin, and alleviation of headaches to clearer thinking and better focus.
A crucial component of our wellness programs is the award-winning Kamalaya wellness cuisine, which is rich in a broad array of anti-inflammatory foods. Further to this, our Detox and Enriched Gut programs follow menus curated to support the specific program goals. With our modern lives involving increased exposure to sources of inflammation it is becoming ever more necessary to take a proactive approach to reducing the inflammation in our body for our long-term health, quality of life and levels of vitality. Luckily, as demonstrated by Kamalaya’s wellness cuisine, an anti-inflammatory diet can be vibrant and delicious as well as making us feel great.
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