Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Leslie Beck reveals top foods to fight inflammation

A couple of weeks ago, Leslie Beck talked about inflammation. This is something I fight every day and am always looking for more information about it.

Leslie Beck reveals top foods to fight inflammation
Inflammation is the new buzzword among health experts. Canada AM's registered dietician Leslie explains what it is, what foods cause it, and what foods can actually fight inflammation in the body.

Leslie Beck, Canada AM nutrition expert
Date: Wed. Mar. 30 2011 9:09 AM ET

What exactly do we mean by inflammation?
Inflammation is a normal -- and much needed -- body process. It's the response of your immune system working to heal wounds and fight infection. We wouldn't survive without some inflammation. But when that healing process isn't turned off, problems arise.

When we talk about inflammation and disease we're talking about chronic, low grade, ongoing release of inflammatory chemicals in the body that can lead to serious damage. Inflammation is now recognized as a major determinant of many age-related diseases including heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Inflammation is fueled by a number of factors including cigarette smoking, lack of sleep, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abdominal obesity and a poor diet.
What foods cause inflammation?

Steak, sausages, eggs, a loaf of white bread, white bagels, cookies, chocolate bars, a can of regular Coke, a side of French fries.

Most people eat too many foods like these that promote inflammation and not enough foods that suppress it.
In general, a diet high in refined, processed foods and animal products causes the body to generate inflammatory compounds. Too much meat, too much sugar and sweets and too many refined (white) carbohydrates. A steady intake of trans fats, found in many deep fried foods and commercial bakery products, also creates inflammation.

What foods fight inflammation then?
Salmon filet, a can of salmon, kale (for garnish), fish oil capsules (not fish LIVER oil), flax oil, ground flax seed, salba seeds, walnuts and canola oil.

Does fish oil help?
Yes, it does. In fact, there are a number of anti-inflammatory foods that help subdue inflammation in the body by promoting the production of anti-inflammatory immune compounds.

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish, called DHA and EPA, have strong anti-inflammatory effects in the body. To increase your intake aim to eat 6 to 12 ounces of oily fish per week. The best sources of these omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, herring, anchovy, mackerel and sablefish (e.g. black cod). These fish are also low in mercury.

If you don't like fish, consider taking a fish oil supplement. Look for at least 500 or 600 milligrams of DHA and EPA (combined) per capsule. Liquid fish oils provide more per teaspoon.

But there is one other omega-3 fat that has anti-inflammatory effects; it's called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. Women require 1.1 grams of ALA per day and men need 1.6 grams. The best sources include flax oil (1 teaspoon = 2.4 grams ALA), ground flaxseed (1 tablespoon = 1.6 grams), salba seeds (2 tablespoons = 2.5 grams), walnuts (14 halves = 2.5 grams) and canola oil (1 tablespoon = 1.3 grams).

What other foods are anti-inflammatory?
Almonds, cashews, peanuts, blueberries, Brazil nuts, strawberries, cherries, red grapes, oranges x 2, broccoli, red onion, yellow onion, green tea and firm tofu.

You'll also want to add nuts to your diet. The anti-inflammatory properties of nuts are attributed to their polyunsaturated fat, magnesium and antioxidant content. Include one ounce of nuts in your daily diet. Substitute nuts for less healthy snacks like cookies, candy, soft drinks, and refined starchy foods. One ounce of nuts isn't that large -- you'll need to count out 8 Brazil nuts, 18 cashews, 14 walnut halves, 24 almonds or 28 peanuts.

Flavonoid-rich foods also are anti-inflammatory. Flavonoids are natural compounds found in fruit and vegetables. The best sources are berries, cherries, red grapes, apples, citrus fruit, broccoli, kale and onions. Other good sources include green and black tea, dark chocolate, soybeans, edamame and tofu.
Do any supplements help?

Vitamin D supplement, 1000 IU.

Besides a fish oil supplement, vitamin D is a good choice. Among its many roles, vitamin D has anti-inflammatory effects in the body. In fact, research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with higher levels of inflammation in adults.

Current vitamin D recommendations range from 600 to 2000 IU per day. In the fall and winter, when the sun isn't strong enough to produce vitamin D in the skin, Canadians are advised to supplement with 1000 to 2000 IU vitamin D per day. The safe upper daily limit is 4000 IU per day

Leslie Beck Canada AM

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