This week, I have chosen to research and look at reducing inflammation through your diet, as it is something I am learning to control at the moment.

This could be of interest to more people than you think- not only people with arthritis, IBS, Crohns Disease, Colitis and cardiovascular diseases are affected by inflammation. An aching back, cough, and headaches can also be signs of inflammation in our bodies. I’m going to look at the possible causes of inflammation, what foods can trigger it reducing inflammation through our diets.

It’s something I am very aware of as it┬ácauses a flare up of my disease and also chronic joint pain as I have arthritis as a result of Crohns Disease.

Having the right TYPES of fats and carbohydrates in your diet is integral to controlling pain and reducing inflammation.

1. OMEGA 3 ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS – Omega 3’s are a very powerful anti inflammatory agent and are found in most cold water fish, walnuts, flaxseed, canola oils, pumpkin seeds and tofu. An imbalance of omega 6 and 3 can cause inflammation.

Olive oil contains high amounts of oleic acid which is another type of anti inflammatory oil. Cold pressed olive oil is the least processed and the better choice, but remember it denatures when it is heated so try and avoid it when cooking if at all possible!

CLA, (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is another anti inflammatory which is naturally occurring but not consumed in high enough amounts to help reduce inflammation through diet. CLA is also said to be good for diabetes and preventing fat accumulation.

2. WHOLE GRAINS – Whole grains are an excellent source of fibre, and a high fibre diet can help to reduce inflammation. Whole grains contain bran and germ as well as the endosperm, in contrast to refined grains which only contain the endosperm. What I must mention at this point, is that IBS and IBD’s are TOTALLY different illnesses. Fibre can actually worsen your symptoms if you suffer from colitis or crohns disease- this is why there are no oats in my breakfast photo from this morning. You know your body best and it’s important you don’t force yourself to eat excessive amounts of fibre because someone else recommends it. Eat what you can deal with, and introduce it slowly.

3. FRUITS AND VEGETABLES – Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals which have anti-inflammatory properties. Umeboshi plums are pickled Japanese plums, which have a highly alkalising effect on the body (also helpful if you suffer with acid reflux!) They also stimulate digestion, reduce fatigue and promote the elimination of toxins. Fruits such as berries and cherries have been proven to be good at reducing inflammation.

4. PROTEIN – Possible animal sources that are shown to best at reducing inflammation are lean poultry, fish and seafood. Plant based sources include soy, tofu, nuts and seeds.

5. TURMERIC – Turmeric is shown to keep the protein which is in our bodies naturally that causes inflammation dormant. It has also proven to improve the symptoms of asthma as well as IBDs.

In addition to all of the above, it’s important to keep hydrated, and green tea has also been shown to reduce inflammation.

    FOODS THAT CAUSE INFLAMMATION

Remember, you know your own body best, and there will always be foods that you’re sensitive too, so listen to your body and rule those out accordingly.

First on the list of inflammatory foods is the one that “got me” at the weekend-

1. DAIRY PRODUCTS – Did you know as much as 60% of the worlds population cannot digest cows milk properly? Being able to digest milk beyond infancy is considered abnormal by awfully clever scientists, not the other way around.

If you are sensitive to milk it can trigger symptoms such as acne, hives, trouble breathing, skin rashes, stomach distress and/or constipation/diarrhea.

Remember to scan the ingredients list of different foods, it’s easy to avoid obvious dairy products but it’s also contained in foods such as bread, crackers and cereals.

Some great alternatives are goats, almond, coconut and hazelnut milk. Most coffee shops offer a dairy free version such as soya milk too.

It’s always worth cutting dairy for a little while to see if it actually benefits you. I know myself it makes me really unwell, and as long as I supplement my diet correctly I’m happy not to have it any more!

2. SUGAR – Culprit number TWO is SUGAR. Sugar has been proven, like it’s naughty sister DAIRY, to cause acne. I think the thing most people don’t account for are the hidden sugars in foods. Do you drink┬áCoke? Drinking a can of that stuff is the equivalent of sucking on 10 sugar cubes.

Sugar also has many different names, so make sure you watch out for corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, golden syrup, maltose and fructose.

If you have a really sweet tooth and you cannot live without some sweetness in your life, natural sweeteners like stevia and honey are better options. And let us not forget fruit, which also contains antioxidants and vitamins, and you can go for some of the inflammation reducing fruits I listed like blueberries and strawberries.

3. OMEGA 6 FATS – If you have an imbalance between the omega 3 fats and omega 6 fats in your diet, then as I said before, inflammation is bound to occur. Omega 6 fats are generally saturated and trans fats. Oils like sunflower, corn, soy, safflower and peanut contain high linoleic acid, which has a pro-inflammatory influence on the body. Also, many vegetable oils contain a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids, and very less of omega-3. Too much of omega-6 and less of omega-3 in body promotes inflammation and increases the risk of chronic diseases.

4. NIGHTSHADE PLANTS – These include tomatoes, white potatoes, tobacco, red and green peppers. They provoke inflammation as they contain a chemical alkaloid known as solanine.

5. COFFEE

6. PROCESSED FOODS – Not only do these foods cause inflammation but they are full of empty calories too. It is the trans fats in the foods that cause the most harm, and foods such as pizza, burgers, hotdogs, potato fries, hot dogs, etc should be avoided.

7. ALCOHOL – Regular intake of alcohol can promote chronic inflammation. Try having non alcoholic fruit juice punch in the hot summer months.

These points may not remove the problem but they should reduce it. Give them time, it took years to do the damage to your body, so if it takes months BE PATIENT!

Elle Mac