When it comes to our health, it would appear that we are our own worst enemy. The human body is an intricate machine that is a master at fighting off pathogens, and both protecting and healing itself. However, some of the most debilitating disorders are brought on by our body attacking itself. Inflammatory disease processes account for a majority of the serious chronic disorders that humans face. Some of the more common inflammatory disorders include rheumatoid arthritis, allergies/asthma, Alzheimer's, ulcerative colitis and heart disease.
As the old adage goes, you are what you eat. With the fast-paced lifestyle that Americans have become accustomed to, many do not have the time to fix home cooked meals from scratch anymore. Instead, many gravitate towards grabbing a quick dinner from a box of processed, pre-made food or a quick trip through the drive-through. While this may seem like an easy and cheap alternative, in the end it is costing Americans their health. The good news is that it is relatively simple to adjust your diet to maintain your health.
Foods to Help Reduce Inflammation
The Arthritis Foundation endorses a diet similar to the Mediterranean diet to help reduce the inflammation that is characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis. It is suggested that those suffering from inflammatory processes reduce the amount of processed foods and saturated fats, while increasing the amount of fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans in their diet.
Fish is such an important addition to your diet because it is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is very important in brain and heart health and is an important anti-inflammatory. A study of 727 post-menopausal women published in the Journal of Nutrition showed a correlation between increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and decreased levels of inflammatory markers in the body. Both levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 were drastically reduced in those women taking omega-3 fatty acids.
Nuts, when eaten in moderation, can also help fight inflammatory diseases. They are a good source of vitamin B-6, which decreases the level of CRP in the body. It is also high in monounsaturated fats that help lessen inflammation. The recommended daily allowance is 1.5 ounces. Walnuts, pistachios and almonds are among those with the greatest benefits. Almond milk is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber, and encompass many antioxidants that help counteract free radicals in the body that can further damage cells. It is important to consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to receive the full benefits. Cherries are particularly valuable in combating inflammation. They contain anthocyanins, which are believed to work as well as NSAIDs without the adverse side effects. Green leafy vegetables contain a high amount of vitamin K, and thus are also an important addition to your diet. Other excellent sources include blueberries, blackberries, bell peppers and strawberries.
Some of the most overlooked additions to a healthy diet include beans and olive oil. Beans are essential because they are both high in fiber and decrease the inflammatory marker, CRP. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat and is rich in polyphenols, an antioxidant that has a similar mechanism of action to ibuprofen.
Vitamins and Supplements to Combat Inflammation
There are many vitamins that offer anti-inflammatory properties; they can either be added to your diet or taken as a supplement. Among some of the more beneficial vitamins are vitamin E, vitamin D and the vitamin B complex. Turmeric has also become widely accepted as an excellent source to battle inflammation, and decrease the risk of many deadly disorders.
An increase in vitamin E is thought to reduce the risk of inflammatory heart disease, arthritis and Alzheimer's. It has also been shown to benefit sufferers of ulcerative colitis. A study performed on lab rats at the Istanbul University found that increased vitamin E helped decrease the signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis. The lab rats that were given vitamin E showed suppression of mucosal injury to the colon, which is indicative of this disorder.
Vitamin D can be found in fish, eggs and dairy; it is naturally processed in the body with exposure to sunlight. It has proven to be helpful in reducing rheumatoid arthritis, and when combined with vitamin C it improves the efficacy of asthma medications in children. A recent study also provides evidence that vitamin D may reduce inflammatory damage to patients with congestive heart failure. Those patients who took 2000 IU of vitamin D daily for nine months, had a 43% increase of the anti-inflammatory, interleukin-10, in the blood. The control group also showed a 12% increase of inflammatory markers, while those taking vitamin D showed no increase.
The vitamin B complex, particularly B6, B9 and B12, show important anti-inflammatory properties. A correlation between a B12 deficiency and Alzheimer's has been noted; an increase of this vitamin is imperative for brain health. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition has also found vitamin B6 to be of possible benefit to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Thirty-five adults with rheumatoid arthritis were given 100 mg of vitamin B6 for twelve weeks. Initial results show a reduction of inflammatory markers, interleukin-6 and TNF-a. It is believed that with a prolonged increase of B6, symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis will diminish over time.
Turmeric is a plant closely related to ginger, and can be used as a spice in foods such as curry, or taken as a supplement. The active ingredient, curcumin, has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Initial studies show great promise in reducing the risk of cancer and inflammatory disorders such as arthritis. It also reduces the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries that can lead to both a heart attack and stroke.
A majority of people lack a healthy diet because they feel proper nutrition takes too much time and money. However, most nutrients can be introduced with minimal dietary changes, or even with dietary supplements. While healthy food options can appear to cost more initially, it is important for you to realize just how important your health really is. With healthcare costs on the rise and insurance benefits at an all-time low, one cannot afford to not incorporate preventative health into their lifestyle.
For more information about vitamins, contact Corner Drugs or a similar company.