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Trouble with inflammation? Food might be to blame!

Do you have pain in your shoulders or other joints. Do you have an inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis? This might be because of high chronic levels of inflammation. Basically inflammation is a needed and necessary part of your immune system. It helps your body fight infections. But high levels of inflammation can actually cause a host of health issues. There is evidence that links high levels of inflammation to a number of health problems. Perhaps most famously to rheumatoid arthritis but also to higher risk of depression and to higher risk for cancer. But most seriously inflammation is linked to heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics, and whites.

So what is the cause of elevated levels the inflammation response from your immune system?
A paper named “The Effects of Diet on Inflammation” claims that your food might be to blame: “Reducing the incidence of coronary heart disease with diet is possible.” The study examines the epidemiologic and clinical evidence concerning diet and inflammation.

The researchers says that the inflammation food link is due to the fact that “…dietary patterns high in refined starches, sugar, and saturated and trans-fatty acids, poor in natural antioxidants and fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and poor in omega-3 fatty acids may cause an activation of the innate immune system, most likely by an excessive production of proinflammatory cytokines associated with a reduced production of anti-inflammatory cytokines. The whole diet approach seems particularly promising to reduce the inflammation associated with the metabolic syndrome.”

One of the central features of inflammation is that normally innocuous stimuli will produce pain. The researchers also claimed that our western diet is to blame for much of the effect: “Western dietary patterns warm up inflammation, while prudent dietary patterns cool it down”. Instead they advocate a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and low in refined grains, refined fruits and refined vegetables.

One of the problems with our diet they say is that our eating patterns generate a constant and never ending digestion phase, where food is absorbed into our body. Our consumption of red meat, processed meat, sweets, deserts potatoes and french fries all contribute to this. The effect of this is that a chronic activation of the innate immune system could exist during most parts of the day.

The mediteranian diet offers some measure of protection against elevated inflammation and alcohol – mostly wine – seem to be an important contributing factor to this protection: A study demonstrated a significant reduction in CRP (a marker for inflammation) after 3 weeks of diet-controlled consumption of 4 (men) or 3 (women) glasses of beer. Moreover, a 4-week consumption of 30 g/day of red wine led to a significant decrease in CRP (21%) in healthy adult men.

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