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The Truth About the Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Living Well

Inflammation is typically associated with the effect of trauma, but inflammation is the underlying issue in multiple diseases and pathological processes.

Ιt is estimated that more than 50% of fatal diseases in the world have inflammation as an underlying cause, such as cardiovascular disease, digestive problems (colitis, ulcers, leaky gut), arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and obesity. Inflammation can even be a factor behind mood and mental health disorders, such as irritability or depression.

We have all experienced and associate inflammation with the effect that occurs from trauma or when suffering from an allergy or sore throat: the affected area of ​​the body swells, reddens, hurts and mobility or functionality is difficult. This type of so-called acute inflammation is the body’s defence response to injuries, infections and/or diseases and allows it to facilitate blood supply to the affected body part that has suffered an attack and repair it. It is an immediate response with limited duration, since it disappears within hours or days

However, in this article we are going to refer to another kind of body inflammation that we can describe as chronic, since it endures over time; sometimes it is unrecognized, with a large number of people suffering from it without being aware of it. This inflammation can affect our tissues, causing cell damage and progressively undermining our health, reducing our quality of life, and causing diseases such as those mentioned above.

This so-called chronic inflammation can be triggered in the body by different routes: infections that are not treated; environmental factors such as pollution that affect the quality of the water we drink and the air we breathe; diet and lifestyle.

Although a persistent infection constitutes a problem to be solved from a clinical standpoint, and contamination is presented as a problem of our times from which we can hardly escape if we live in a city, diet and lifestyle are choices for which we are entirely responsible.

Indeed, eliminating from our diet things that cause inflammation and make us sick is in our hands and will have a positive impact on our physical, mental and emotional health.

First of all, we must know which are the main inflammatory substances or foods and eliminate them as much as possible from our pantry, our diet and our lives.

Foods with a high glycaemic index: the increase in blood sugar, the production of cytokines is responsible for producing inflammation. These pro-inflammatory cytokines are also found in very high levels in visceral fat (intra-abdominal fat that men accumulate to a greater extent) and is highly dangerous and can trigger cardiovascular problems. For this reason, we must eliminate sugar, sweeteners (although they do not provide calories, they have been shown to produce an insulin response), refined flour, processed confectionaries, processed juices and soft drinks, etc.

Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats, margarines, vegetable oils such as sunflower, soy (very rich in omega 6, which although necessary for the body, should be consumed in the correct balance with Omega 3). These fats are present in almost all processed foods, so we must read carefully the list of ingredients of the foods we buy.

Sausages and processed meats: sausages, smoked and cured meats are associated with the risk of heart disease, colon and stomach cancer. This type of food is made up of leftovers and often contains preservatives and toxic substances that are added to provide flavour, colour and for conservation purposes.

Alcohol: Alcohol is a neurotoxic and neuroinflammatory substance that damages the liver and kidneys; increases the permeability of the intestine allowing toxins to pass into the bloodstream; destroys the gut microbiome by affecting the immune system and ultimately triggering inflammatory conditions (arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, hepatitis, acute pancreatitis, etc.). The theory that having a glass of wine a day was beneficial for health has recently been disproved by the WHO and also by various scientific studies that show that far from producing a benefit, it causes great harm. In fact, it is estimated that there are about 800,000 deaths a year due to heart disease caused by alcohol consumption, and it also increases the risk of suffering from different types of cancer.

Dairy products: Whether or not dairy products cause inflammation is a highly debated topic in the medical community and nothing conclusive can be said. However, there are other sources of calcium from plants such as almonds, sesame seeds, broccoli, spinach, kale, etc. In fact, the absorption of calcium from the consumption of dairy products is also a matter of debate. In any case, eliminating dairy from one’s diet is a personal choice, but it should always be consumed in moderation and making sure that it is organic and obtained from animals raised responsibly and with dignity.

Medicine: Aspirin, ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory medicines are among the most consumed pharmaceuticals worldwide. These drugs function by blocking the biochemical complex that causes inflammation (prostaglandins), stopping its process and thus producing pain relief. Although it is sometimes necessary to resort to them, regular consumption may lead to side effects such as damage to the liver, kidneys, and intestinal mucosa. Therefore, it is preferable to use them only when they are needed. Turmeric is a natural alternative without side effects, which contains curcumin and has been revealed to be of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories, hailed as natural ibuprofen.