As a defence mechanism, inflammation is an intrinsic part of our body’s ability to repair itself and deal with stress. It’s basically an intense and short term reaction to external dangers but, like so many other flight and fight responses, when inflammation starts to become chronic, health issues can start to appear.
The list of health problems associated with chronic inflammation is extensive and includes things like arthritis, autoimmunity, diabetes, obesity, migraines and heart disease.
So what can be done?
Well, as 70% of the immune system cells, which regulate inflammation, are found along the lining of our gut, what we eat can have a huge impact. Many inflammatory diseases begin in the gut, and poor diet is a key contributor to most types of inflammation. A regular high intake of things like sugar, white flour, processed foods, trans and saturated fat, vegetable oils as well as numerous toxic chemicals all which add fuel to the fire
What should we eat?
- Eat whole, unprocessed foods and lots of vegetables, especially leafy greens like broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale and cabbage. Add colourful fruit to your diet, especially cherries, pomegranate and berries. Also aim to include pulses where possible, such as beans, chickpeas and lentils.
- Drink water every day
- Limit red meat and dairy. Eat fish and poultry instead (ideally organic)
- Eat healthy fats, especially those high in omega 3 such as salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines. Other healthy fats can be found in avocado, olives and olive oil, flax / hemp / chia seeds and seed oils. Try not to heat the seed oils, just use for drizzling.
- Add healthy herbs and spices to your diet. Ones to try include turmeric, curry powder, ginger and garlic, both fresh and dried. Other herbs to try include basil, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme and parsley
- Increase your nut and seed intake; especially walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, pistachios, chia, flax and hemp seeds
- Aim to reduce stress and try to get moderate exercise every day.
Taken from nutritionist Sharon O’Dwyer for The College of Naturopathic Medicine. CNM offers courses in naturopathic nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture and homeopathy. Join them at their our next open evening. Simply reserve your free place at naturopathy.ie