Anti-Inflammation: healing through diet.

January 16, 2013

Brentwood, CA Farmers's Market. by Kajal DhabaliaThere are so many diseases these days where the underlying symptom is inflammation. Conditions like arthritis, Hashimotos, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, allergies, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes can be made worse or better depending on a person’s diet.

In the past two years, both my sister and I have been diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditus.

The Mayo Clinic’s definition of Hashimotos is:

Hashimoto’s disease is a disorder that affects your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck, below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s activities. In Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. The resulting inflammation often leads to an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. It primarily affects middle-aged women, but also can occur in men and women of any age and in children.

When I went to go see an endocronolist, I was told that I would just have to increase my thyroid medication and that there was nothing else we could do for this autoimmune disease. I had a hard time digesting that there was nothing I could do to address the root issue. I found out through Ayurveda that all root causes of autoimmune diseases have to do with a low self-esteem. So self-care has been a top priority for me.

In addition, both my sister and I chose to get help from Naturopath doctor’s who have showed both of us that through our diet we can greatly impact the severity of symptoms  that are a direct result of the inflammation caused by the Hashimotos; we both can feel the difference our change in diet has made for us.

An anti-inflammatory diet consists of using lots of herbs and spices, fresh veggies and fruit and adding essential fatty acids and proteins.

Also what I’ve learned is that as much as you need to add healing, anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, you also need to avoid eating foods that promote inflammation. A simple rule of thumb follows: If it contains flour, and/or sugar or other sweetener, it will be pro-inflammatory. Sugary, starchy foods are not the best choices for reducing inflammation.

I found this great article on She Knows: Health & Wellness Blog called The Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Eating Foods to Heal Your Body by Michele Borboa, MS. In this article she highlights the benefits of an an anti-inflammatory diet and also explains more on pro-flammatory foods. In the article she references the research of Karen Lamphere, MS, CN. I found the below excerpt on pro-inflammatory foods especially helpful. To read the whole article, click here. 

What foods are pro-inflammatory?

The standard American diet is a culprit in inflammatory conditions. Unhealthy fats promote inflammation.”Most people eating a Western diet high in processed food or fast food consume a lot of omega-6 fats – and not enough of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats – and it is this imbalance between the two that promotes inflammation [in the body].” Omega-6 fats are found in corn, safflower, sunflower, peanut and soybean oils. “[These fats] are inflammatory because they are metabolized into hormone-like compounds that actually promote inflammation,” says Lamphere. Have you ever wondered why trans fat is unhealthy? Lamphere explains, “Another fat that is highly inflammatory in trans fat. This fat is found in processed or fast foods, especially those that are fried.” She warns, “It is best to avoid trans fat entirely.” Refined carbohydrates are pro-inflammatory. Refined flour, sugar and foods high on the glycemic index exacerbate inflammatory conditions. Lamphere warns, “These foods elevate insulin and glucose levels, which raise levels of pro-inflammatory messengers.” Food allergies or sensitivities can play a role in inflammation. “Many people are intolerant to the proteins in wheat and dairy, and this can initiate an inflammatory cascade that starts in the gut but can have far-reaching [systemic] effects,” says Lamphere.

So, here’s a basic guide to healing inflammatory diseases through diet:

[column col=”1/3″]Herbs & Spices – that calm irritated tissues and relieve swelling.

  • Basil
  • Chamomile
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Mustard Seeds
  • Nutmeg
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric[/column]

[column col=”1/3″]Fruits and Vegetables – more color really means higher vitamin content

Fruits:

  • Blueberries
  • Blood Oranges
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Purple Plums
  • Purple Grapes
  • Red Pears
  • Strawberries

Vegetables:

  • Broccoli Florets, Kale
  • Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Purple Cabbage, Spinach and Dark Leafy Greens
  • Purple Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes
  • Purple Peppers, Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Radicchio
  • Radishes
  • Red Peppers
  • Rhubarb

[/column]

[column col=”1/3″]Omega-3 Rich Foods – essential fatty acids that your body needs

  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Grape seed Oil
  • Linseed Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Walnut Oil
  • Almonds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Wheat Germ

[/column]

 



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