Inflammation as a bodily process is not always a bad thing, depending on the circumstances. There are two primary types of inflammation that occur in the body, localized and systemic inflammation. Localized inflammation is the type that occurs in acute cases, such as a sprained ankle or a scrape on your arm. This is characterized by the typical redness, swelling, and tenderness that is commonly associated with damaged tissue. This type of inflammation is necessary for the healing process to occur, as the extra blood flow to the area brings important nutrients to allow the tissue to heal. Unfortunately, we know that’s not the whole story. The other type of inflammation is far more dangerous and less easy to identify. This is systemic inflammation, which occurs not in damaged muscle, tendons, ligaments, or skin, but rather in your veins and arteries. This type of inflammation has the potential to affect every system in our body and is a leading contributor to most, if not all, chronic disease. This type of inflammation comes from a variety of different sources, diet being the leading cause. The good news is that if the diet is a primary cause, diet can also be a primary solution. A 2014 study on diet and irritable bowel disease, a systemic inflammatory disease, found that all subjects who followed a particular anti-inflammatory diet found enough relief to discontinue at least one of their irritable bowel medications.
Let’s take a look at some of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods.
Salmon is one of the richest sources of essential fatty acids, most importantly omega-3s. Omega-3s have been shown to be powerful anti-inflammatories and may help lower the risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer. Omega-3s also have positive benefits for the brain, including memory and behavior function, especially in the elderly.
Blueberries are powerful anti-inflammatories due to their rich antioxidant count. A specific antioxidant found in blueberries is quercetin. Quercetin has been shown to have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on patients suffering from irritable bowel disease who have experienced colon damage and gut bacteria imbalances. Similar to omega-3s, blueberries have also been shown to slow cognitive decline and improve brain and motor function.
Turmeric is a spice with the primary compound curcumin. Curcumin is widely accepted as one of the most potent anti-inflammatory dietary substances. The journal Oncogene published a study that tested anti-inflammatory properties of several different compounds, including foods and medication. The findings concluded that not only was curcumin one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories tested, but it vastly out-performed medications with known harmful side-effects including aspirin and ibuprofen. Curcumin has also been shown to have benefits for people with rheumatoid arthritis. My dad recently asked me about this, as one of his best friends was able to reduce his rheumatoid arthritis medication after taking a curcumin supplement regularly. He said his doctors were amazed at the results!
Yours in Health, Dr. Alex