Learn all about the causes and symptoms of inflammation, and how you can reduce your total inflammatory load through food from holistic nutritionist, Sarah Powell.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body's natural response to tissue damage caused by pathogens (viruses, bacteria, and fungi), toxic chemicals, or injury and is a crucial part of the healing process.
Main causes of inflammation:
- Biological: food allergies, infections, stress
- Physical: Trauma, burns, frost bite
- Chemical: Pharmaceutical, alcohol, toxins
5 Cardinal Signs of Inflammation: pain, swelling, heat, redness, and loss of function
“Itis” is the latin term for inflammation and translates as “inflammation of”. For example a condition such as tendonitis literally means inflammation of the tendon. Its interesting to think about how most chronic diseases all stem from an inflammatory response within the body.
The Inflammatory Process
When tissue damage occurs the body’s main goal is to promote inflammation as quickly as possible to protect the area. Chemical mediators such as bradykinin, serotonin, and histamine get secreted to support the opening of our blood vessels and allow extra fluids and proteins to enter the area.
Immune cells then start working their magic by clearing off the area of microbes and cellular debris. This promotes symptoms of swelling, heat, redness, and even loss of function.
In acute inflammatory situations immune cells quickly finish clearing the area so the healing process can begin. However, if our cells aren't equipped with adequate antioxidants (protective cellular body guards) surrounding cells can easily become damaged causing inflammation to spread throughout the body. Chronic and degenerative diseases occur when tissues become chronically inflamed and aren't able to properly heal.
Other factors that contribute to the development of chronic disease include nutrient deficiencies, longterm exposure to toxic irritants (pesticides and chemicals), poor diet and chronic stress. Chronic and degenerative diseases include cardiovascular disease, arthritis, obesity, and mental deterioration
5 Nutritionist Approved Foods to Help Reduce Inflammation
Ginger is a medicinal herb classified as a rhizome as it is a root that grows in the earth. Among many amazing benefits, it is an excellent whole food source of antioxidants that helps the immune system thrive and fight off infection. Ginger is an amazing superfood shown to be extremely healing in inflammatory conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, and muscle sprains. Ginger contains constituents such as gingerols, shogaol, and parasols which actually have the ability to stop inflammation in its tracks and reverse its effects which can, as a result, reduce risks for cancer and other diseases.
2) FATTY FISH:
When talking about chronic inflammation, it is imperative that the body is getting adequate essential fatty acids daily. Their role in the body is to mediate the inflammatory process and ensure it is running efficiently. EFAs are our omega 3s and 6s; having a healthy balance of both is important to keep inflammation in check. I diet filled with refined, processed, and deep-fried foods is generally high in omega 6s; therefore, it is important to balance the body with adequate amounts of omega 3s (EPA & DHA) daily. Omega 3s are found in foods such as salmon, sardines, walnuts, and hemp seeds. You may want to consider supplementation if you find it challenging to consume these foods regularly.
Garlic has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries to help modulate inflammation and fight infections, colds, and flus. Garlic’s strong smell and flavour comes from its sulphur rich compounds which gives garlic all of its amazing medical benefits. Please note when cooking with garlic it is important to chop or crush the fresh bulbs first and leave it on your counter for 5-10 mins before consuming. This allows the garlic to oxidize, as a result, releasing its powerful medicinal benefits for our body to absorb.
Matcha is a more potent form of green tea which contains a high amount of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Antioxidants are extremely important for the body to heal after an injury or infection as it works to reduce free radical damage and promote healing. Although matcha still contains caffeine, it is considered an excellent alternative to drinking coffee due to its ability to reduce oxidative stress and control inflammation.
Turmeric is very trendy right now in the health food world, however, this medicinal herb has been used for over 4,000 years in many different cultures and traditions. Its main constituent is called curcumin which gives turmeric its bright orange colour. It is important to note that curcumin should be paired with black pepper and a healthy fat like coconut oil for proper absorption. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb that works to modulate inflammation in the body by blocking enzymes which cause inflammation. Turmeric is categorized as an anti-rheumatic also known as anherb that can actively reduce inflammatory symptoms in conditions such as RA, OA, tendonitis, bursitis, bruises, sprains, and painful joints