How Diet Affects Inflammation
Arthritis is one of many common chronic pain conditions affecting more than 60 million people in North America. The swelling and tenderness of joints can cause pain, stiffness, and a decreased range of motion, all symptoms that tend to worsen with age. Many people may not consider diet as a form of treatment.
Several studies have shown that certain components of food may have anti-inflammatory effects (less pain), just as certain components of foods may also have inflammatory effects (more pain).
Sugar consumption in North Americans is around 20 teaspoons of added sugar per day. The body needs 5 teaspoons per day or less. Research shows that consuming too much added sugar does lead to chronic inflammation, which can worsen arthritis and chronic pain. The body stores excess sugar into fat. Over time, this process can lead to weight gain which also worsens inflammation and joint health.
Trans Fats are another cause of increased inflammation in the body. Trans fats are added to increase the shelf life of processed food items. Researchers have found no safe level of trans fats consumption. Trans fats raise bad cholesterol LDL levels and lower good cholesterol HDL levels in the body. Trans fats can be disguised on food labels being listed as hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredients list.
Saturated fats also cause inflammation. Saturated fat is typically high in red and processed meats including bacon, hot dogs, deli meats, sausage, and jerky.
Refined carbs have become another mainstay in the standard American diet. These types of carbohydrates are highly processed and affect the body very similarly to high amounts of added sugars. Refined carbohydrates hit the bloodstream quickly causing a spike in blood sugar. This spike creates an inflammatory response. Refined carbs come from primarily white flour products such as bread, crackers, and sugary cereals.
What Foods Reduce Arthritis Pain and Inflammation
Foods that naturally reduce inflammation also reduce chronic diseases such as diabetes, metabolic disorders, and cardiovascular disease. In order to reap these benefits individuals should focus on consuming foods that are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols. Polyphenols are notable for their anti-inflammatory effects as they regulate the cellular activity of inflammatory cells. Vegetables and Fruits: cruciferous vegetables otherwise known as leafy greens are excellent sources of polyphenols and antioxidants. All forms of barriers as well.
The Whole Food Diet has proven to be very effective in reducing inflammation. This style of eating focuses on consuming fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils. Brightly colored vegetables and fruits contain higher concentrations of carotenoids which aid in decreasing inflammation. The whole food diet incorporates a colorful menu of vegetables and fruits. Oranges, bell peppers, tangerine, papayas, and pumpkin all contain carotenoids. A study found that individuals suffering from arthritis who followed the whole food diet and increased consumption of colorful vegetables and fruits for three months reduced inflammation and enhanced joint function.
Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to arthritis. Additional research shows that osteoarthritis worsens three times faster in individuals that are vitamin D deficient.
Food is often overlooked as a form of medicine despite the fact that it plays such a large role in how our bodies operate. The wrong foods can cause our bodies to work against us and increase symptoms of conditions like arthritis, but the right foods can make all the difference. Vegetables and fruits, minimally processed foods, and healthy fats can all help reduce inflammation and arthritis pain.