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    Archive for the ‘inflammation’ Category

    Numbers Game: Answer

    nurse taking blood pressureCardiovascular disease risk doubles for every 10-point increase in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) and every 20-point increase in systolic blood pressure (the top number).

    This serves as a perfect reminder of the domino effect of poor health.

    It also illustrates why maintaining a healthy weight is important.  It deeply frustrates me when people argue that weight gain should not be demonized, and that all body shapes should be accepted.

    I certainly back up that argument from a social and body-image standpoint.  No one should be made to feel inferior — by others as well as themselves — because of their waist size.  The fact that you’re ten or fifteen pounds overweight doesn’t negate the fact that you can be — and feel — sexy.

    From a health standpoint, however, getting rid of excess weight is crucial.

    Not only does excess weight increase cellular inflammation (THE most important factor behind the development of a number of degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease), it also sets off a chain of symptoms and conditions.

    Excess weight increases blood pressure, lowers HDL cholesterol levels, and increase LDL cholesterol levels, thereby increasing cardiovascular disease risk.

    It also increases arthritis risk and puts excessive force on joints, often making exercise painful and difficult (thereby creating a powerful barrier against regular exercise).

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    You Ask, I Answer: Inflammation

    My mum asked me to look into foods that increase or decrease inflammation and related chronic pain conditions.

    I don’t know if such a thing is even possible, and Google leads me to thousands of quacks and charlatans. Can you help?

    — Rachelle T.
    Location Unknown

    Nutrition plays an important role in promoting — and reducing — inflammation.

    Before we even get to actual foods, though, it’s important to address weight.

    Excess body fat heightens inflammation, so working towards shedding any extra pounds is the first step in my book.

    Foods that I suggest your mother eat sparingly include refined carbohydrates (mainly white flour and added sugars), trans fats, and Omega-6 fatty acids (found in most processed plant oils)

    A point of clarity regarding Omega-6 fatty acids: although they absolutely serve a purpose (and are essential, meaning we can only get them from our diet), the traditional U.S. diet is overly abundant in them.

    Moving on, then. There are also many foods that help manage — and even decrease — inflammation.

    These include whole grains, monounsaturated fats (think avocados, olive oil, peanut butter, and almond butter), Omega-3 fatty acids (walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, tofu, wheat germ, and some legumes) and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

    In the case of fruits and vegetables, the more variety the better.

    Why? Research suggests that different compounds (i.e.: anthocyanins in blueberries, carotenoids in sweet potatoes, and phenolics in tart cherries) can aid in the reduction of inflammation.

    Keep in mind, though, that for optimal results, these foods should be consumed on a daily basis for a prolonged period.

    Additionally, the above mentioned foods should not be consumed with excess calories or sugars (putting a spoonful of walnuts into a Coldstone ice cream bowl or having a Reese’s peanut butter cup are not effective ways to manage inflammation.)

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