Diet That Lowers Inflammation
Certain foods reduce inflammation, while others raise it. What to eat, what
Inflammation, normally part of a
healthy immune response, is increasingly thought to play a leading role in
encouraging a number of major killers, including cancer, diabetes, heart
disease, stroke, and Alzheimer's. Dangerous chronic inflammation occurs when the
immune system stays turned on and starts attacking healthy cells and
tissues-triggering, say, cancer-causing genetic mutations or the bursting of
artery plaque. What you eat, though, helps determine how much inflammation you
produce. Certain foods promote it, while others are inflammation-fighting
superstars, says nutritionist and family physician Ann Kulze, author of Dr.
Ann's 10-Step Diet.
GO FOR ...
Omega-3 fats. These are among the most
potent anti-inflammatory foods. Best sources: fatty fish like salmon and tuna;
walnuts and other nuts; flaxseed; and canola oil.
Colorful produce. Red onions, tomatoes,
broccoli, red grapes, berries, and oranges all are packed with chemicals called
flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory properties.
Herbs and spices. Ginger and turmeric,
either dried or fresh, are among the most healthful spices. For herbs, sprinkle
on some fresh rosemary.
Chocolate and wine. Red wine has
anti-inflammatory chemicals like resveratrol. Dark chocolate-look for 70 percent
or higher cacao-protects against inflammation, and research suggests that hot
cocoa does too.
CUT BACK ON ...
Omega-6 fats. They trigger the body to
produce pro-inflammatory chemicals. Oils rich in omega-6 fats include corn,
safflower, and vegetable oils; mayonnaise; and many salad dressings.
Trans fats. They're disappearing from
packaged foods as more and more research shows they drive inflammation. And now
they're on nutrition labels, so they're easier to avoid.
Rancid fats. Don't heat oil to the point
that it's smoking, since that oxidizes fats and turns them into inflammation
boosters. Also, avoid old peanut butter and that chocolate bar stashed away for
years in your pantry.
White starches. Flour, sugar, white rice,
and instant mashed potatoes, for example, all cause quick spikes in blood sugar
levels, causing the production of advanced glycation end products that spur
Animal fats. Foods high in this fat-egg
yolks, red meat, poultry skin, whole-milk dairy products-also contain high
amounts of arachidonic acid, a molecule used by the body to create inflammation.
Excess alcohol. Avoid drinking more than one
or two alcoholic beverages a day; too much alcohol can cause changes in the
intestinal lining, allowing bacteria to pass through into the bloodstream,