Inflammation, this is the condition that, more and more often, is called into question to explain many diseases, be they diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer's or cellular degeneration. But what exactly is inflammation? We have always known that inflammation is our defense mechanism, how can it turn against us? And what can we do to protect ourselves? Below we will answer these questions thanks to the most recent scientific research.
What is chronic inflammation and its risks
Inflammation in itself is our salvation as it activates all the resources necessary to cope with threats given, for example, by bacteria, viruses, fungi or toxins. However, the beneficial inflammation, once it has done its job and saved the body, must go away. Here today we are talking about another type of inflammation, more insidious, chronic and at low levels. Precisely because of these characteristics we do not see the classic symptoms of inflammation that could set off the alarm bell that something is wrong, such as redness, pain, swelling or fever. Chronic inflammation remains silent and works over the years, increasing the risk that some disorders may worsen and become chronic, that others may develop and that the body ages prematurely. For example, chronic inflammation is linked to the weakening of the immune system, to the development of rheumatoid arthritis, to the progression of osteoarthritis and the increased risk of cancer, neurodegeneration and cardiovascular disease, the latter especially in the presence of other factors of risk such as diabetes, indeed, it has been observed that inflammation acts as a bridge between diabetes, stroke and heart attack (Charneca et al, Nutrients, 2023 - Zhang et al, Metab Syndr Relat Disord, 2023). Hence the importance of turning off chronic inflammation. But how can we do it? In today's article we will discover, based on the latest scientific research, how chronic inflammation can be fought with diet! Without forgetting, in any case, that lifestyle also has its say. So it is importanto to avoid smoking, drinking alcohol and being sedentary, instead to try to move and to follow an active lifestyle, to guarantee a good restful sleep and keep under control stress and anxiety.
The anti-inflammatory diet
Some foods, more than others, can help counteract chronic inflammation. This is the case of fruit and vegetables, of which at least 5 portions a day should be consumed, fish, 3 portions a week, skinless poultry, 2 to 3 portions a week, seeds, including flax and chia that are a precious source of omega 3, and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts, 30 grams per day, legumes, 3 portions per week, spices, dark chocolate, 3 tablespoons per day of extra virgin olive oil and probiotics, such as supplements, yogurt and drinks that indicate that they contain probiotics (Kamari et al, Food Sci Nutr, 2023 - Sala Climent et al, Front Nutr, 2023). At the same time, a good choice is to limit pro-inflammatory foods, especially highly processed foods, rich in sugars and saturated fats, such as snacks, sweets, salty snacks, industrial drinks, chips, red meat and sausages (Kurowska et al, Nutrients, 2023).
Bitter is better
As a general rule, non-industrial foods and drinks, such as coffee or herbal teas, with a bitter taste are considered valid allies to combat inflammation. Instead, sweetness, particularly if it comes from sugars and fructose added to the food and not contained naturally, is associated with the development of chronic inflammation (Dragos et al, Plants, 2022).
Spices against inflammation
There are many health spices and they are ready to enrich your preparations with taste and colour, while simultaneously helping you to combat chronic inflammation. The best anti-inflammatory spices are cinnamon, turmeric, which, however, to be effective must be combined with extra virgin olive oil and pepper, garlic, ginger and saffron. Spices work in multiple ways to reduce chronic inflammation. In particular, spices modulate the release of pro-inflammatory substances and protect the intestinal microbiota, supporting the proliferation of good intestinal bacteria and strengthening the barrier against pathogens (Charneca et al, Nutrients, 2023).
Tea, both black and green, is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Even coffee, drunk in moderation, is anti-inflammatory thanks to the caffeine and antioxidants it contains (Kurowska et al, Nutrients, 2023). Kombucha tea is also very interesting, obtained from the fermentation of green or black tea. Well, kombucha has been shown to reduce inflammation with an action even superior to that of the infusion from which it is obtained (Sales et al, Foods, 2023).