Can Food Fight Inflammation?

Can Food Fight Inflammation?

The internet is blazen with content about inflammation, and how it can be reduced through the diet, namely through anti-inflammatory foods.

To understand how anti-inflammatory foods can be effective, we first need to have a basic understanding of how inflammation itself arises, and what the consequences are.

Inflammation (also known as the inflammatory response) occurs when our tissues are injured by things like bacteria, trauma, toxins, heat, and so on.

When the tissue cells are damaged, they release chemicals into the bloodstream (for example, histamine and prostaglandins), that cause blood vessels to secrete fluid into the tissues, which causes swelling (also known as oedema).

Additionally, when consumed, some foods can lead to the production of something called free radicals – these are unstable molecules (caused by an unstable single electron) that are made during cell metabolism. This is a normal biological process and can be unavoidable, but if there is a build-up of free radicals (which can be caused by certain lifestyle factors and food choices), it can lead to our protein, DNA, lipids and other structural components being altered, which can trigger diseases such as cancer, inflammatory joint disease, diabetes, amongst others. This is through an overall process known as oxidative stress, which is depicted below;

What is Oxidative Stress and How to Analyze it

Both pathogens and oxidative stress can cause inflammation.

How do anti-inflammatory foods work?

Oxidative stress and free radicals can be combated by consuming what’s known as antioxidants. These are foods that donate an electron to free radicals to make them stable, without then becoming unstable themselves, reducing cell damage. Antioxidant foods have also been found to be involved in mechanisms that repair DNA and aid with maintaining cell health.

What are anti-inflammatory foods?

Foods that have high antioxidant activity are mostly fruit and vegetable-based, with lean protein sources like fish, poultry and beef. This is largely in line with what is known as the Mediterranean diet, which is highly appraised for having health-promoting benefits already. 

So, can food fight inflammation?

While we always preach that there is room for ‘fun’ foods in our diets, and in moderation, having a well-balanced plate that is mostly made up of lean proteins, mono and polyunsaturated fats, fruit and vegetables and complex carbohydrates can be helpful when it comes to warding off inflammation and is always the blueprint for a healthy lifestyle!

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Meghan Foulsham
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Published by Meghan Foulsham

Meghan's fascination with metabolism and the effect of diet on the body covered in her BSc Biochemistry, paired with being a passionate mental health advocate, led her to a Master's degree in Eating Disorders and Clinical Nutrition. Using this, Meghan works with clients to help them reach their goals in the most sustainable way, without sacrificing or risking their mental health.

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