Anti inflammatory foods Part 3, the anti-inflammatory diet
the best foods to counteract inflammations according to scientific studies
Inflammation is a beneficial process to our health if it is precise, lasts a short period of time and removes the threats that can be toxins, bacteria, damaged cells. The inflammatory process destroys the aggressor and then goes away. A perfect mechanism. However, this mechanism may not work properly and inflammation keeps on acting silent in the body, in a chronic way, for years, and then blows up with aging and illnesses such as arthritis, Alzheimer, allergies, cardiovascular problems and cancers. With diet and lifestyle you can do a lot to keep under control the chronic inflammations. For example, certain omega 6 fatty acids are used by the body to produce pro inflammatory substances while other substances, in general omega 3 fatty acids, are the basis for anti inflammatory substances. For the health it would be a good choice to introduce omega 6 and omega 3 in a balanced way, according to scientific studies the ratio omega 6/omega 3 that is 4:1 may be helpful to protect the heart and 2-3:1 may be beneficial against cancers, allergies and arthritis. However, Western diet tends to favorite omega 6 and the ratio omega 6/ omega 3 can reach 17:1 (Simopoulos et al, Biomed Pharmacother, 2002), that is just too inflammatory. Don’t forget also the role of the vitamins and their type. For example, everybody knows the anti inflammatory role of vitamin C and E, but also group B is able to reduce a substance, the homocysteine, that, if present in a high amount in blood, can increase the risk of problems related to heart, Alzheimer and arthritis, or also vitamin K, that has an anti inflammatory action and protects bones and heart (Monica Reinagel, The Inflammation-free diet plan, McGraw Hill, 2006). Also mineral salts, such as zinc and selenium, plays a pivotal role in counteracting inflammations as well as antioxidants and the presence of fibers. According to Harvard Medical School in an anti inflammatory diet should always be present tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale, but also nuts and almonds, some types of fishes such as sardine or salmon and fruits such as oranges, apples, blueberries, strawberries and cherries characterized by the high intake of polyphenols. Perfect also the omega 3 rich foods such as flaxseed and oil and chia seeds. Don’t forget garlic that, on the basis of scientific studies is able to counteract Helicobacter pylori (SIvam et al, J Nutr, 2001), the bacterium that causes ulcers, gastritis and, as a consequence, stomach cancer. And what about Swiss chards? Thanks to an Italian study we know that, together with green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, scarole, they have a protective action against the breast cancer, that is always connected to inflammatory processes (Masala et al, Breast Cancer Res Treat, 2012 and Age isn’t the same for everyone, Eliana Liotta). Again, according to Harvard Medical School, to counteract inflammations you should avoid, or at least limit, fried foods, sugar rich drinks, refined carbohydrates, lard, margarine and processed meats.