Eating Your Way to Better Health

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Inflammation is your body’s reaction to some sort of attack. It can fight off bacteria and viruses and helps to repair damaged tissues. Most people are familiar with the signs of inflammation in your body – there may be pain, some swelling, a general feeling of discomfort, this is acute inflammation and is meant to protect us. Lately though another type of inflammation has been getting more and more attention – chronic (long-term) systemic inflammation. This occurs when the body loses the ability to differentiate between good tissue and bad bacteria and viruses. The body mistakenly attacks good tissue which sets off a chain reaction causing, among other things, imbalances in the chemical and hormone systems. There is growing evidence that chronic systemic inflammation can cause health problems such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, arthritis and heart disease, to name a few. In addition, researchers at Rush University Medical Center and the University of California San Francisco are looking into a possible connection between chronic systemic inflammation and both Parkinson’s disease and ALS.

Unlike more traditional inflammation which is easily observed, signs of chronic systemic inflammation oftentimes are not visible. These subtle, easy to miss symptoms include carrying extra fat around the belly area, suffering from such things as heartburn, acid reflux, and gas, feeling more tired than usual, irritability, migraines, skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis, and waking in the morning feeling anxious and stressed. The good news about chronic inflammation is that it can be slowed or stopped simply by making lifestyle changes such as managing stress, exercising more, limiting alcohol, getting plenty of sleep (seven to eight hours per night), and, perhaps the most important – changing your diet.

Following an anti-inflammatory diet is one of the easiest ways to manage or stop chronic inflammation. This diet (and truly it should be thought of as a long-term way of eating as opposed to a shorter term “diet”) promotes eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, consuming healthy fats – especially those high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and chia seeds, avoiding less healthy fats which are often found in processed food such as soybean and corn oils, and limiting the consumption of sugar and processed sweets that contain sugar substitutes such as corn syrup. The anti-inflammatory diet is beneficial not only for people who are currently suffering from chronic inflammation but also for those hoping to prevent the condition. For more details on the anti-inflammatory diet check out Dr. Andrew Weil’s website and this helpful graphic. For help finding food that conforms to the anti-inflammatory diet be sure to utilize the search feature at



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