Inflammation is Hot

Inflammation sounds like a bad thing but it’s actually part of your body’s immune system response to injury. Your white blood cells and the substances they produce rush to the area of insult to defend against bacteria and viruses. There is generally heat, redness, swelling, and some pain involved.

Arthritis is one example of a disease where the inflammatory response can cause pain and discomfort.  Other diseases and conditions linked to inflammation include asthma, premature aging, and multiple sclerosis. I’ve even read recently about a study that linked inflammation to depression.

Sometimes inflammation occurs when there is no obvious reason or triggering event and sometimes inflammation can become chronic, outpacing and wearing out your immune system.  Chronic inflammation is a hot topic right now as it is believed to be linked to major diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Our first response to dealing with inflammation, whether it be joint pain or high LDL cholesterol that contributes to plaque, might be to reach for a pill. By doing that you are just treating the symptoms; not addressing the cause of the inflammation. Not surprisingly I am going to suggest that you look at what you eat as means to preventing and controlling inflammation.

There are foods that seem to contribute to the body’s inflammatory response and others that have been shown to calm and/or prevent it.

Foods That Hurt – Sugar, saturated fats, and trans fats, have been shown to promote inflammation. Sugar in particular has been linked to increased arthritis symptoms. Removing these foods from the diet should be the first step in calming chronic inflammation.

Foods That Heal – You may have read or heard about the benefits of cherries and cherry juice in alleviating the symptoms of gout. Another substance that is garnering attention is curcumin, a compound that is found in dried spices and especially prevalent in the spice turmeric. Curcumin has even been shown to reduce pain and inflammation after surgery. It turns out that many plant foods that are highest in anti-oxidants are helpful in reducing inflammation. These foods include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and spices.

Physical activity also plays a role in strength of your body’s immune system and the manifestation of inflammation. Studies have shown that people who are more active have lower levels of inflammation.

My advice? Eat better, move more, and stay cool.

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