Without inflammation we die, and yet, with too much inflammation we are miserable. The immune system causes inflammation in order to kill germs.
The temperature goes up, because heat is a killer, and capillaries enlarge, to allow the immune system to send in cells and chemicals that deal with infection. However, like a car which has an engine to increase speed, and brakes to reduce speed, we have various ways to increase inflammation and to reduce it.
Many degenerative diseases involve inflammation, from heart disease to arthritis. Anything with –itis on the end is to do with inflammation. Just think of the number of people who take non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Nurofen, that can cause ulcers, heart disease and cancer. People who have taken a lot of these drugs find they cannot come off them, as their pain is worse than ever when they try to stop them.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Others take steroids because of their inflammation, like hydrocortisone. Taking these too long can lead to failure to make your body’s own cortisol. Then there are opioid drugs used to dull the pain of inflammation, that resemble heroin, and also cause addiction.
Foods that decrease inflammation: fish and flax
In order to make inflammation happen, we need omega six fats. These come in nuts and seeds, and in oils that come from them, like sunflower, safflower and corn oil. It takes various processes for the body to make inflammatory chemicals from these oils. If we eat fish, we eat omega three oils, which reduce inflammation.
During evolution, we ate plenty of omega threes from shellfish, but fish is now expensive, and some people don’t like it. Factories started bottling omega six oils. Doctors, who had studied little nutrition, told people they should eat these instead of solid fats. So the balance between omega six and omega three changed, and inflammation grew out of control.
To restore the balance, have less omega six oils, and eat fish. Coconut oil is a healthy cooking fat. Nuts and seeds are more nutritious than the oils. So it is the oils that need to be cut down or cut out. If you don’t like fish, have fish oil capsules. This does not mean cod liver oil. If you have enough omega three fat from cod liver oil, you will be having too much vitamin A.
The oil you want comes from the flesh of the fish, not the liver. Without fish or fish oil, then use flax seed oil. Keep it in the freezer until you open it, and then in the fridge. It is fragile. So don’t cook it. You need more than you would need of fish oil, say about two dessertspoons a day. You also need lots of vitamins and minerals from your diet or supplements, in order to process the flax oil the way the fish processes the oil it consumes.
Natural anti-inflammatory foods: green leafy vegetables, beansprouts, lentils and bananas
Our bodies are very sophisticated, and have other methods for reducing inflammation. One is called methylation. Magnesium helps with this, and comes in green vegetables, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds. Official figures show that many people have an inadequate intake of magnesium, but this information lies on library shelves, instead of being used to prevent and treat disease. Beetroot also helps with methylation.
Folic acid, which comes in foliage, and so in green leafy vegetables, as well as beansprouts, lentils and bananas, is involved, as is vitamin B12, which is in animal products like meat, fish, eggs and cheese.
Avocados, chicken, and eggs are natural anti-inflammatory foods
We need enough cortisol, but not too much. This involves vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, which comes in avocado, chicken, egg and lentils.
Foods that decrease inflammation include red cabbage and buckwheat
Sulphation is another method for reducing inflammation. One way of helping this process is putting a cup of Epsom salts in the bath one day in three. Useful foods to enhance sulphation are red cabbage and buckwheat, which give us molybdenum, and lentils, avocado, eggs and nuts, which give us vitamin B2.
Because radish, spinach and orange reduce sulphation, they can increase inflammation. Foods like tomato, chilli and soya are rich in boron, which can also increase inflammation by making us excrete vitamin B2.
Allergies cause inflammation. Babies are born with their immune systems in allergy mode. They should mature into systems for fighting infections and cancers. Normal birth through the birth canal provides the baby with bacteria for the gut, which mature the immune system. Caesareans are of course sometimes necessary, but should be avoided if possible, as the bacteria are not provided.
Vitamin D also helps the baby’s immune system mature. Vitamin D from the sun is best. Of course sunburn is not a good idea, but moderate exposure of the skin to sun regularly from Spring to Autumn is important. Sunscreens may perhaps be necessary if you are to be acutely exposed to strong sunshine for too long, but be careful about the ingredients, and wear protective clothing instead of using sunscreens when possible.
Babies’ immune systems need to be taught what substances are acceptable, including which foods. Ideally the mother eats a broad diet, including nuts, and she breastfeeds, so that the baby is exposed to traces of many foods in her milk. Then the same diet can be liquidised for the growing baby, as the immune system has been prepared for it.
There is a window of opportunity for introducing the baby to different foods. If foods are avoided at this time, the immune system will consider them alien when they are later introduced, which may lead to allergy.
We need a nutrient rich diet. Sugar does not provide the vitamins and minerals needed to process it in the body. So these are taken away from other processes, like preventing inflammation. So sugar encourages inflammation. In particular, sugar feeds harmful bacteria in ulcerative colitis. The first thing to do if diagnosed with this condition is to avoid sugar, honey and fruit juice.
Two doctors in Uganda realised that the fibre in cooked green bananas protected the population there from western gut diseases. Unfortunately doctors here thought wheat fibre would do as well, and advocated wheat bran and wholemeal bread.
Bran is quite different from green banana fibre, and chemicals in it called lectins cause a lot of trouble. I wonder how many people developed arthritis, and in particular rheumatoid arthritis, because of this advice. Many who do not tolerate wholemeal bread do cope with white sourdough bread.
One way of reducing inflammation is to reduce infection. Many of the vitamins and minerals are involved in this, including vitamin C from vegetables, and zinc from meat, nuts and seeds.
Inflammation is essential at times, but using the diet to prevent or control chronic inflammation is much safer than using drugs.