Not only in winter, but constantly, our immune system fights off intruders such as bacteria, viruses or hazardous substances by a process called inflammation. It also uses this process chronically when there is no foreign invader and harms our own body. This can lead to coronary heart disease, diabetes and dementia. The right supporting foods can help keeping our body healthy for longer.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the immune system’s response to foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses, and foreign substances, such as cigarette smoke or splinters. However, the immune system also triggers this response when there are no apparent foreign intruders and the normally protective system causes harm to its own tissues. This is known to happen in so-called autoimmune diseases such as allergies, asthma, coeliac disease, hepatitis and inflammatory bowel disease. Research now shows furthermore, that this abnormal response also lays the groundwork for diabetes, heart disease, dementia and some cancers (1).
How can food help?
More and more, research shows that not only traditionally known antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods are significantly helping in reducing and preventing this inflammatory process that harms our bodies chronically (2). Foods that are especially helpful are rich in anti-oxidants, omega-3 fats, pro- and prebiotics while are limited in processed and refined foods, cholesterol and trans-fats. The following (not complete) foods are great sources of these properties.
Foods Rich in Anti-Oxidants, Omega-3, BCDE Vitamins, Pre- & Probiotics
apple cider vinegar
Limit Inflammatory Foods, Cholesterol, Trans-Fat
Limit Processed/refined food: focus on fresh ingredients
Limit Sugar: all added sweeteners such as sugar, syrup, molasses, fruit juice from concentrate, honey, brown sugar, etc have inflammatory properties; natural sugar in fruit and milk is fine
Limit Flour: every flour is refined and should be limited but whole grain flour is the least harming
Limit Animal Products: especially red meat and non-fermented dairy such as milk (any fat content and from any animal) should be limited; poultry, fish, omega-3 eggs and fermented dairy (yogurt, cheese, buttermilk) is advisable
No Trans-Fat: limit the use of margarine, shortening, bakery, fried & processed foods, non-dairy cream; check the nutrition facts label for trans-fats
(1) Harvard Health Publication: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Inflammation_A_unifying_theory_of_disease
(2) Nancy B. Emerson Lombardo, Ph.D., Boston University School of Medicine on Memory Preservation Nutrition: http://brainwellness.com/