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Inflammation & Nutrition

Image: Shutterstock. Description: Selection of healthy food reducing chronic inflammation salmon fish avocado seeds nuts leafy green vegetables berries on a white rustic wooden table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is inflammation & why does it matter?

Inflammation is a natural and protective response by the body’s immune system to an injury, infection or harmful substances.  Symptoms of inflammation include redness, heat, swelling and pain.

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Imagine cutting your finger or scraping your knee. What happens? The area turns red, is painful and perhaps starts swelling. This is acute inflammation – your immune system is sending white blood cells to your injured finger or knee to protect it. In this way, inflammation is helpful and essential and speeds up the healing process.

In contrast, chronic inflammation happens when the body continues to respond for a long time as if it was under attack by a foreign or unwanted substance. Chronic inflammation does not help the body because it fights against its own cells by mistake. Some diseases or medical conditions associated with inflammation are rheumatoid arthritis, where many joints throughout the body are permanently inflamed, psoriasis – a chronic skin disease, and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.  These chronic inflammatory diseases can last for years or even a lifetime. Chronic inflammation also contributes to heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and some allergic conditions.

What you can do about managing inflammation?

With all the conditions that involve inflammation, no wonder people are interested in food choices to help reduce ongoing harmful chronic inflammation. Overall good nutrition is key to enhancing immunity and providing antioxidants that lower the stress of inflammation. You may be wondering about specific foods that have been called out as part of the ‘anti-inflammatory diet’.   Here are FIVE types of foods to keep on top of your list that may help reduce chronic inflammation:

  1. Foods rich in omega- 3 fats
    • Eat oily fish 2 – 3 times / week (salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, trout)
    • Replace regular eggs with omega-3 eggs
    • Choose plant-based sources of omega-3 fats including flax oil, ground flax seeds and walnuts
  2. Antioxidant rich vegetables and fruit
    • Look for colour – dark green, red, orange, yellow, purple and blue – they are chock full of antioxidants
    • Enjoy a variety of vegetables and fruit everyday – make them half your plate at each meal
  3. Fibre
    • Choose fibre rich foods such as vegetables, fruit, pulses (beans, chickpeas, lentils) and whole grains. High fibre foods help support your gut health and nourish the beneficial bacteria that help fight inflammation and disease.
  4. Herbs and spices
    • Add flavour with cinnamon, ginger and turmeric which seem to supress inflammation, but evidence is unclear about how often and how much to eat. Have fun exploring some dietitian approved recipes that enhance flavour with these herbs and spices.
  5. Protein
    • Eat protein foods to build antibodies which play a role in supporting a healthy immune system. Include fatty fish (see tip #1 above) and lean white meat in your diet. Use cooking methods that do not char meat such as poaching, stewing, and steaming. Try acidic marinades such as lemon, lime vinegar or yogurt for a health and flavour boost. Acid ingredients tenderize meat and studies show that marinating meats may reduce harmful compounds that can form on meat exposed to high cooking temperatures.
    • Choose plant proteins including tofu, tempeh, edamame, beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts and seeds.

 Bottom line

There is no single anti-inflammatory or miracle food!  However, eating an overall healthy diet is an important way to help manage inflammation.  In addition,  getting enough sleep , engaging in regular physical activity as well as other lifestyle factors (such as NOT smoking)  have a direct impact on lowering inflammation.

A registered dietitian can break down the anti-inflammatory diet for you into easy-to-follow steps and provide you with a variety of enjoyable ways to eat well.  Contact us to find out more about our personalized nutrition counselling sessions.

 

International Year of Fruits & Vegetables 2021

 

colourful fruits and veggies arranged in a circle to create an image of a person's face. This is the logo for the IYFV 2021.

 

IYFV 2021. It stands for the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021, declared by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).

IYFV 2021 is dedicated to raising global awareness about the important role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security and health as well as in achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.

Here’s a summary of the key messages:

Harness the goodness

Fruits and vegetables have multiple health benefits, including the strengthening of the immune system, that are essential for combating malnutrition in all its forms and overall prevention of non-communicable diseases. This is becoming increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Live by it, a diverse diet

Fruits and vegetables should be consumed in adequate amounts daily as part of a diversified and healthy diet. The FAO recommends eating 400 grams (about 5 servings) of fruits and vegetables every day.

Respect food from farm to table

The high perishability of fruits and vegetables needs special attention to maintain their quality and safety through appropriate treatment and handling across the supply chain from production to consumption in order to minimize loss and waste.

Innovate, cultivate, reduce food loss and waste

Innovation, improved technologies and infrastructure are critical to increase the efficiency and productivity within fruits and vegetables supply chains to reduce loss and waste.

Foster sustainability

Sustainable and inclusive value chains can help increase production, help to enhance the availability, safety, affordability and equitable access to fruits and vegetables to foster economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Growing prosperity

Cultivating fruits and vegetables can contribute to a better quality of life for family farmers and their communities. It generates income, creates livelihoods, improves food security and nutrition, and enhances resilience through sustainably managed local resources and increased agrobiodiversity.

 

As business dietitians, we are skilled in translating the science of nutrition into practical advice for consumers and businesses. Contact us to discuss how you can leverage IYFV 2021 for your product marketing and communications.