Foto Simone Fiorini – Melloblocco 2015
This year at Melloblocco nutrition will become functional!
Inflammation is the innate immune system response to an attack on the body, so it is a sign your immune system is working! The inflammation process protects the body by isolating the damaged area, attracting immune cells and molecules to the site and, in later stages, promoting the healing of affected tissues: in fact, without inflammation, wounds or infections would never heal and could become deadly.
There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic (sometimes called systemic) inflammation.
Acute inflammation arises within minutes of an injury such as a cut or insect bite, or it can take several hours to become fully activated in cases of bacterial infection, a sprained ankle, acute bronchitis, a sore throat, tonsillitis (..): it is a comparatively sudden, rapid, short-term response to infection, injury, or toxic exposure, and the effects subside after a few days.
Chronic inflammation is long-term and occurs in “wear and tear” conditions: in some cases, the body can sustain a long-term inflammatory state in response to a lingering, low-grade infection that is never fully knocked out by the rest of the immune response; at other times, the immune system may mistakenly identify normal healthy tissue as foreign and launch an inflammatory attack against them! These types of aberrant immune responses can lead to chronic inflammation in the body that can seriously damage healthy tissues; over the past few decades, inflammation has been recognized as a major risk factor for various human diseases:
– heart disease
– autoimmune diseases (IBS, Crohn)
– lung issues (asthma, COPD, chronic bronchitis..)
– bone health
– anger disorders and aggressive behavior
In addiction oftentimes, the knee-jerk reaction of the medical community to inflammation is to dole out drugs to reduce it (NaturalNews). In fact, there is a whole classification of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, available by prescription and over-the-counter. They work by blocking the enzyme cyclooxygenase, which produces prostaglandins, BUT NSAIDs (except aspirin) are associated with a variety of risks, according to new labeling by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including an increased risk for cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.
Whether acute or chronic, inflammation “is the body’s natural response to a problem, so it makes us aware of issues that we might not otherwise acknowledge”, so we can’t say one is good and the other is bad. BUT we can manage chronic inflammation, sometimes called persistent, low-grade inflammation by changing some environmental or habitual factors, such as excess weight, pollution, lack of exercise, stress, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or POOR DIET.
So when we speak of an “anti-inflammatory diet” this kind of low-grade, chronic inflammation is what we typically hope to help, since this conditions often does not have symptoms (e.g doctors can test for C-reactive protein levels or similar markers); an anti-inflammatory diet may also be helpful for those suffering from arthritis and autoimmune diseases.
The recommended foods typically are:
– Cold-water fish: these are among the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil, make sure to get a reputable source of fish oil that is free of mercury) balancing over consumption of omega-6 fatty acids from red meat and vegetables oils from bakery products.
– Berries: their polyphenol compounds, particularly anthocyanins, moderate inflammation and bring blood flow to the skin, which is great for moving lymph.
– Certain spices: ginger (suppressing pro-inflammatory molecules known as prostaglandins with little to no side effects compared to NSAIDs), rosemary, turmeric (curcumin blocks several inflammatory chemicals in the body), oregano, cayenne, cloves, nutmeg (..) as possessing anti-inflammatory compounds that inhibit the biochemical process of inflammation
– Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprout, kale and cauliflower and other green leafy veggies contain sulforaphane, which is associated with blocking enzymes that are linked to joint deterioration and, consequently, chronic inflammation. Sulforaphane also may be able to prevent or reverse damage to blood vessel linings caused by chronic blood sugar problems and inflammation.
– Walnuts and other nuts: provides both mono- and poly- unsaturated fats, vitamin E, sterols, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory ingredients that not only are heart healthy but also stabilize blood sugar and have an overall positive effect on the skin
– Green Tea: the constituent EGCG, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, is known to suppress inflammatory chemicals in the body
– Avocados: contain phytosterols, carotenoid antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and polyhydroxolated fatty alcohols that lower CRP
– Onions: are a good source of quercetin, which inhibits histamines, this made them a popular home remedy for asthma for centuries
– Olive oil: the monounsaturated fats in olive oil are turned into anti-inflammatory agents
– Watermelon: contains lycopene, a cellular inhibitor for various inflammatory processes; it also works as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals. Additionally, watermelon contains choline, which helps keep chronic inflammation down
– Organic eggs: produced by chickens that eat a traditional diet of greens, seeds, and insects
– Fiber and organic whole (gluten free) grains: help mediate inflammatory processes by helping with weight loss and feeding beneficial gut bacteria associated with lower levels of inflammation
– Vegetables: beside purple/deep red foods also green vegetables are source of magnesium from chlorophyll
– Probiotics: from either supplements or fermented food help to build immunity (gut-brain connection)
– Pineapple: packed with vitamin C, they also contains bromelain that helps to break down proteins and aids in digestion.
Beside this precious list there’s an opposite one of food to avoid e.g. hydrogenated and trans fats, meat from feedlots, fried foods and AGEs sources (advanced glycation end products), dairy non fermented products, sugar, alcohol and probably wheat products for gluten intolerant.
Be aware: any athlete who pounds his or her body with sprints, long weekend runs and most sport activity is inflamed in some way: not only sport will have a profound impact on the body, but the increase amount of inflammation is at the base for improving strength, muscle growth and endurance!!! As a matter of fact micro-traumas (DOMS) affecting muscles, connective tissue, joints and bone are what allow your body to adapt and withstand a similar workout in the future. That is why regular exercise can even help an athlete adapt enough to lower the level of inflammation in the body, so once again good or bad ratio is really subtle: an excess in inflammation could be from stress and the subsequent cortisol release into the body, the swelling of joints, or the breaking down and building back up of muscle protein and without the proper level of nutritional support or knowledge of the foods that could cause you inflammation issues, you could be fighting an uphill battle.