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Fighting Chronic Inflammation with Foods

By Larraine Roulston:

As we age, it’s wise to check out helpful foods to reduce aches and pains in our fight against ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis. In recent years society has become more reliant on pills. For long-term sufferers, those painkillers could become addictive and eventually may have unpleasant side effects.

fighting inflamationScott Zashin, MD, a clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, states, “Bad foods cause over-activity in the immune system, which can lead to joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels.” A good beginning, therefore, is to replace unhealthy processed foods with natural whole vegetables and fruits.

Alexis Joseph, M.S., Registered Dietitian and whole foods enthusiast quips, “With a little avocado and a lot of dark chocolate, we can make healthy happen.” Also, author of Hummusapien, Joseph suggests the following anti-inflammatory foods:

* Beets are beneficial in your diet. They help lower blood pressure and boost stamina. Beets’ nutrient, betaine, has shown to decrease risk for inflammation.

  • Most dark leafy greens, like kale, contain Vitamin K. Joseph claims, “Just a single cup of kale provides 10% of the recommended daily amount of anti-inflammatory omega-3s (the kind that can be found in fish) as well.

* Tomatoes are packed with the antioxidant called lycopene, an inflammation fighter. By cooking tomatoes, more lycopene is produced.

* Fatty fish such as salmon provide EPA and DHA, both powerful omega-3 fatty acids. Other fatty fish include mackerel, sardines and tuna. You can also take fish oil supplements. As well as helping to reduce inflammation, these foods help lower the risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, cancer and asthma.

* Soy-based foods such as miso boast olflavones and omega-3s that may help lower levels of inflammation.

* Almonds contain vitamin E, which help lubricate the joints.

* Tart cherries are very high in antioxidants. One study showed that long-distance runners who drank tart cherry juice had less inflammation and recovered faster after the race than those runners who did not drink the juice.

* Cooking garlic increases its anti-inflammatory effects.

There are many whole fruits and vegetables that will ease aching joints. Asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, Fruits-and-Vegetables for inflamationcauliflower, tomatoes, avocados, grapefruit, oranges, peaches and watermelon contain the antioxidant glutathione, which has shown to lower the risk of developing arthritis. Vitamins C and E in citrus fruits, kiwis and berries also contain antioxidants. Nuts and seeds as well as soy products, seafood, whole grains, beans, rice, hummus and lentils contain tryptophan which has been shown to reduce pain. Vanilla, ginger, cayenne, bay, allspice and cloves are known to reduce inflammation. Even compounds that give color to foods (flavonoids) are credited with preventing disease.

When our immune system weakens and chronic inflammation is more apt to set in, taking stock of your daily diet is a good place to begin.

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Larraine authors the children’s illustrated series Pee Wee at Castle Compost. Visit www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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