Could Inflammation Be Affecting Our Health?

I’m not a jogger.  But I do run on occasion.  Like when I’m playing with the dogknee inflammation or having
fun on the ocean beach with my daughter.  However, lately my knees have decided to rebel, even when I pick up the pace for very short distances.  “Bursitis”, my doctor says.  (And ‘itis’, as we know, commonly refers to inflammation.)  “Take an anti-inflammatory, over-the-counter pain medication”, he suggests.  Being one who doesn’t like to pop a pill for every pain that comes along, I researched ‘inflammation’ to find the latest information on problems it causes and the best, most natural ways to deal with it.

Inflammation is a big can of worms in the health field.  Even bigger than I thought it was.  As more research is conducted, we find that inflammation is linked in some way to a majority of diseases.  Uncontrolled inflammatory problems tend to snowball and lead to more serious inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cancer and arthritis, to name a few.

Some have termed this the ‘inflammation syndrome’.  Meaning that it “reflects the coexistence of at least two (and often more) inflammatory disorders that greatly increase the risk of developing more serious inflammatory diseases”.  This definition is from the author, Jack Challem, of The Inflammation Syndrome book.  He goes on to say, “although an inflammatory response may primarily affect specific tissues, such as the knees, {don’t I know it, Jack!} it frequently radiates through the body and attacks other tissues.”  For example, joint injuries can set the stage for osteoarthritis.  Chronic infection and inflammation have a 30% likelihood of leading to cancer.  This is what seems to have happened to my brother earlier this year.  He had a prolonged serious infection unresponsive to treatment, followed by a diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer which took his life, all in less than a year and a half.

Chronic inflammation simply makes the body more susceptible to disease.  Nutrition plays a large part because nutritional deficiencies or imbalances prime the immune system for the inflammation reactions.  To effectively treat inflammatory diseases nutritional problems need to be corrected.

What are the main foods that contribute to an inflammatory reaction?  In general, highly processed foods.  And more specifically, processed foods high in sugar such as soft drinks and desserts; refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, and cake; processed oils like corn, soybean or sunflower (as opposed to olive oil);  most fast-food restaurant items; prepackaged microwave meals and processed foods that come in boxes, cans and bottles.

This brings us to the flip side – what foods tend to help control inflammation?   In general, fresh and whole foods, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, fish and naturally raised lean meats.  Look for minimally processed foods.  For example, a baked potato would be a fresh, whole food verses fast-food French fries, which are potatoes, highly processed.  (For more detailed dietary suggestions check back next month.)

And remember, it’s not just what you choose to eat but how much you eat and how often you eat it.  I’m a firm proponent of ‘80/20’ thinking in regards to healthy food choices.  At least eighty percent of the time, make a conscious choice to eat fresh and whole foods.  Twenty percent of the time (or less), give yourself permission to have those items that you truly enjoy even though they may not be considered a ‘healthy’ food.

I plan to continue to do what I can to manage inflammation.  How about you?

pile of produce

If you want to learn more on how to eat to control inflammation be sure to stop back next month.

About Luanna Diller

Luanna Diller's professional expertise includes nutrition, health behavior change, and wellness. She has three decades of experience in counseling, teaching and motivating thousands of clients to achieve healthier lifestyles. She is a wife, mom to two teenagers, Registered Dietitian and Christian women’s ministries leader. She is a creative cook, loves to dance and recently discovered a knack for hand making glass beads.
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5 Responses to Could Inflammation Be Affecting Our Health?

  1. I used to struggle with inflammation and have been able to get it under control with diet & supplements.

  2. Pingback: Managing Inflammation with Nutrition | Food and Faith for Women

  3. Aleks says:

    Oh I quite often get the pain in my knees after a run !

    Aleks
    http://silencio1984blog.wordpress.com

  4. Take it easy on those knees, Aleks! You want to keep them working for you for a long, long time!

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