Updated: Mar 8, 2022
THE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET
That fatigue you feel, those sleepless nights, that nagging pain that you carry around everyday…they can all be traced back to inflammation. Whether it’s the common cold, arthritis, back pain, Crohn’s disease or lupus, lowering your inflammation can play a preventative and sometimes even a curative role in all of these diseases. Inflammation contributes to many conditions, from blocked arteries to depression. The type of inflammation is what determines whether it’s good or bad. Let’s dive into inflammation!
Wait, there are different types of inflammation!?
Acute inflammation is a protective mechanism designed to sound the alarm in case of injury and promotes rapid healing. The injured tissue releases and produces chemicals which recruit your immune system's white blood cells, like soldiers in an army, to fight off infection and clean up cellular debris from injured tissue. Chronic inflammation is a totally different beast, neither beneficial nor healing. Quite the opposite actually. When tissues become chronically inflamed, they keep signaling our immune system to recruit more white blood cells, to fight injury or infection. The presence of white blood cells in chronic inflammation leads to recruitment of more white blood cells and the vicious cycle begins. Your immune system starts to breakdown healthy tissue in a misdirected attempt to heal and repair. Let`s use this simple example. Imagine that the inflammation is caused by your diet. Yes, many chemicals found in your food, are highly inflammatory. We know that saturated fats from animal products are highly pro-inflammatory, as are the industrial chemicals added to ultra-processed foods to preserve them or to add artificial colours or flavours. Now imagine eating a highly inflammatory meal, 3-5 times per day. Is the taste of food really worth risking your health, meal after meal, day after day, year after year. If every single bite of food you take is pro-inflammatory instead of anti-inflammatory, you are setting yourself up for chronic diseases later in life. Some would say that transitioning to a plant-based diet as a means of lowering inflammation is a little extreme, while I’m seeing patients getting their chests cracked open and veins from their legs sewed on their hearts. Having to fight for your life after a crushing diagnosis has a way of making dietary modifications seem not so extreme.