Inflammation marks the beginning of the healing process in our bodies; it’s how we remove harmful foreign stimuli. Harmful stimuli such as the common cold or an infection prompt the body to release white blood cells that protect the affected area(s) by fighting the infection, causing the remote tissue to swell.1,2 The same response can be seen in the red, swollen skin around a cut.2 This process, which occurs rapidly and usually lasts for a short period of time, is known as acute inflammation. Acute inflammation occurs when tissue has been damaged by trauma (a cut, banged knee) or with microbial invasions (the common cold, infection).1 Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, lasts for months to years. The mechanism is the same as acute inflammation, but it’s slow moving, active for much longer, and healthy tissue and organs end up in the warpath.1 The body is constantly in defense mode because immunity cells are being signaled by untreated infections, autoimmune diseases/disorders, dietary habits, smoking, aging, and/or long- term exposure to irritants.1,3 Common symptoms include body pain, fatigue and insomnia, weight gain, infections, mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, and gastrointestinal complications.1 Chronic inflammation is painful, draining , and, depending on the
circumstances, can play a large role in some of the diseases that significantly threaten our health. Diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, rheumatoid arthritis and joint diseases, chronic kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, asthma, obesity, cancer, and stroke are linked to chronic inflammation.1
The best way to manage, treat, and prevent chronic inflammation is with a healthy diet and overall lifestyle,1,3 but not many of us realize that certain foods can trigger an inflammatory response
or further agitate pre-existing inflammation. Most of the above conditions tend to develop from unhealthy food choices and a lack of exercise.1,4,5
Saturated and trans-fats and refined sugar contain high levels of proinflammatory markers that cause an inflammatory response or make pre-existing inflammation worse.1,6,7 Main sources include animal products, including meat, cheese, milk, eggs, butter, and lard; coconut and coconut oil; shortening; high-fructose corn syrup; processed foods and oils; refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pastries, and other baked goods; and fried food.1,6 If a nutrition label claims to have 0mg of trans fat but reads, “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil(s),”trans-fat has still been added; it’s another way for food corporations to integrate it into their products.7 Reducing, and eventually eliminating, these sources from your diet can lower your risk of developing most chronic inflammatory diseases or slow down their progression. There are also foods and lifestyle choices that can reduce and treat inflammation.1,4-6
Incorporating more beans/legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables into your diet is the most effective way to reduce and treat inflammation, as well as repair related tissue damage.4,5 Even better, adapting to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle provides the body with what it needs to prevent
or regulate inflammation and associated pain, even in autoimmune disorders.4,5 Breaking down the anti-inflammatory substances, nutrients, and micronutrients found primarily in plants can provide a better understanding the significance of healthy dietary habits.
Along with blood sugar regulation and aiding in digestion, fiber also has anti-inflammatory properties.1,8 Lower levels of tumor necrosis factor- alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6)—proinflammatory immunity
cells (cytokines) that signal immune/ inflammation responses—have been reported in people who maintain a high intake of fiber.1 Beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and raspberries are loaded sources of fiber.
Polyphenolic plant compounds, which are found in fruits, vegetables, and teas, have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties.9,10 Like fiber, flavonoids control the signaling of cells and can moderate inflammation responses.9,10 They also have antioxidant properties that repair the tissue damaged by inflammation and can help with related pain. Though there are many classes of flavonoids, higher intakes of anthocyanins, the class
of flavonoids that provide fruits and vegetables their pigments, is most notable for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.11 Berries are considered the best source of anthocyanins.11-13 Other foods and beverages rich in flavonoids include mung beans, red and purple grapes, kale, broccoli, black, white, green, and oolong tea, soybeans, and legumes.
Omega-3 fatty acids.
These fatty acids regulate the inflammation process and can reduce pain associated with inflammation by lowering levels of TNF-alpha and IL-6. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the main three fatty acids.1,14 ALA comes from plants, and ground flax seed and flaxseed oil are great sources of it.14 Other sources include tofu and other forms of soy, walnuts, pecans, vegetable oils, and leafy vegetables. Algae supplements also contain appropriate doses of EPA and DHA.
One of the most noteworthy anti-inflammatory dietary nutrient is magnesium, due to its ability to moderate levels c-reactive protein (CRP).1,15,16 Elevated CRP levels have been linked to inflammation, as well as the development of certain cancers.1,15,16 Nuts (almonds, cashews, and peanuts), dark, leafy greens, soy milk, edamame, black and kidney beans, avocado, brown rice, bananas, and raisins are the best sources.
Vitamins D and E.
Vitamin D suppresses the inflammatory response; in fact, most autoimmune diseases have been linked to a vitamin D deficiency.1,17 The best way to get the daily recommended amount is with a supplement.1,17 Vitamin E combats the oxidants that trigger inflammation and is found in wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds and oil, almonds, peanuts, collard greens, spinach, pumpkin, red bell pepper, mango, asparagus, and avocado.1,18
Decreases pro-inflammatory immunity cells, reduces risk for infection, and is considered an antioxidant.1,19 Being a trace mineral, the body needs small amounts.19 It’s found in legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole gains.
Found in Brazil nuts or dietary supplements, selenium can regulate excessive immune responses.1,20,21
Along with healthy eating, physical activity (any body movement that results in elevated energy expenditure22) is beneficial for those with acute or chronic inflammation and can serve as a preventative measure for those at risk for chronic inflammation.22-24 Physical activity has been shown to elevate cells and hormones, such as endorphins, that suppress immune responses, decrease antibody secretion, which can shift the balance of immune cells and cell receptors, and release pro-inflammatory signals from muscles.22,23 This is especially beneficial for those with pre-existing chronic inflammation, due to its ability to manage symptoms of pain, enhance mood, decrease fatigue, and prevent or slow the development of certain chronic diseases and related complications.22-24 Integrating a regular exercise regimen into a daily routine can also reduce inflammation and provide mental health benefits to people with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, ankylosing spondylitis, and systemic lupus erythematosus.24 Severity of inflammation, disease, and side effects might pose activity and dietary restrictions. Create exercise regimes and eating plans with a healthcare provider to ensure safety and prosperity.
1. Pahwa R, Singh A, Jialal I. Chronic Inflammation. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing; 2020.
2. Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publishing. Playing with the Fire of Inflammation https://www. health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/playing-with- the-fire-of-inflammation. Published August 2016.
3. Straub RH, Schradin C. Chronic inflammatory systemic diseases: An evolutionary trade-off between acutely beneficial but chronically harmful programs. Evol Med Public Health. 2016;2016(1):37– 51.
4. Craddock JC, Neale EP, Peoples GE, Probst YC, Vegetarian-Based Dietary Patterns and Their Relation with Inflammatory and Immune Biomarkers: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Advances in Nutrition. 2019;(10):433–451.
5. Hruby A, Jacques PF. Dietary Protein and Changes in Biomarkers of Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort. Curr Dev Nutr. 2019;3(5):019.
6. Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publishing. Foods that Fight Inflammation. https://www.health. harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight- inflammation. Published June 2014.
7. American Heart Association. Trans Fats. https://
www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/ eat-smart/fats/trans-fat. Accessed January 27th, 2020.
8. The Mayo Clinic. Nutrition and Healthy Eating. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/ nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/high-fiber- foods/art-20050948. Accessed January 27, 2020.
9. Panche AN, Diwan AD, Chandra SR. Flavonoids: an overview. J Nutr Sci. 2016;5:e47. https://www.ncbi. nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465813/
10. Oregon State University: Linus Pauling Institute. Flavonoids. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary- factors/phytochemicals/flavonoids. Accessed January 27, 2020.
11. Cassidy A, Rogers G, Peterson JJ, et al. Higher dietary anthocyanin and flavonol intakes are associated with anti-inflammatory effects in a population of US adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jul;102(1):172-81.
12. Joseph SV, Edirisinghe I, Burton-Freeman BM. Berries: anti-inflammatory effects in humans. J
Agric Food Chem. 2014;62(18):3886-903. 13. Joseph SV, Edirisinghe I, Burton-Freeman. Fruit Polyphenols: A Review of Anti-
inflammatory Effects in Humans. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2016;56(3):419-44.
14. Cholewski M, Tomczykowa M, Tomczyk M. A Comprehensive Review of Chemistry, Sources and
Bioavailability of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Nutrients.
15. National Institutes of Health: Offices of Dietary
Supplements. Magnesium. https://ods.od.nih. gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/. Accessed January 27, 2020.
16. Huang WQ, Long WQ, Mo XF, et al. Direct and indirect associations between dietary magnesium intake and breast cancer risk. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):5764.
17. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Vitamin D. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/ vitamin-d/. Accessed January 27, 2020.
18. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Vitamin E. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/ vitamin-e/. Accessed January 27, 2020.
19. Gammoh NZ, Rink L. Zinc in Infection and Inflammation. Nutrients. 2017;9(6):624.
20. Huang Z, Rose AH, Hoffmann PR. The role of selenium in inflammation and immunity: from molecular mechanisms to therapeutic opportunities. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2012;16(7):705–743.https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3277928/
21. National Institutes of Health: Offices of Dietary Supplements. Selenium. https://ods.od.nih.gov/ factsheets/Selenium-HealthProfessional/. Accessed January 27, 2020.
22. Sharif K, Watad A, Bragazzi NL, et al. Physical activity and autoimmune diseases: Get moving and manage the disease. Autoimmun Rev. 2018;17(1):53–72
23. Dimitrova S, Hultenga E, Honga S. Inflammation and exercise: Inhibition of monocytic intracellular TNF production by acute exercise via β2-adrenergic activation. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2017 March;61:60-68
24. Sharif K, Watad A, Bragazzi NL, et al. Physical activity and autoimmune diseases: Get moving and manage the disease. Autoimmun Rev. 2018 Jan;17(1):53-72.
Peanuts in the Raw
Acrylamide, a potential carcinogen to humans, forms in peanuts when they’re either deep fried or roasted. Overall, roasting peanuts reduces their monosaturated fatty acids and increases saturated fatty acids content. Boiling peanuts weakens flavonoids, affecting the heart health benefits and anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity peanuts harness. Eating peanuts raw (with no added salt) maintains their nutritional
SOURCE: Guo C, Xie YJ, Zhu MT. Influence of different cooking methods on the nutritional and potentially harmful components of peanuts. Food Chem. 2020;316:126269. NHR