#47 Fight Inflammation with These 7 Foods
HOST: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell
What do black beans, bing cherries, avocado and nuts have in common? These foods fight inflammation in the body. But isn’t Inflammation a good thing or is it a not so good thing? Let’s talk about the type of inflammation you don’t want in your body and how you can fight it with food.
Hi, I’m registered dietitian nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell. You’re listening to the Bariatric Surgery Success podcast episode number 47. Most of my career I’ve worked in some type of media, particularly radio where I did morning drive nutrition spots for over 18 years. That’s what lead me to start podcasting and ultimately to you. I created Bariatric Surgery Success to provide you with life-changing information based on science along with simple strategies and tools to help you be successful in your transformation and your entire journey. So happy you’ve connected with me. You’re in the right place and I’m glad you’re listening.
I want to give a big shout out and say thank you this week to lilurameshi. I so appreciate your 5 star review on Apple podcasts which says: “Awesome…great podcast for bariatric nutrition. It’s a quick podcast that is packed full of information. Have a pen and paper handy to write down some of the great tips.” Well, I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who takes notes these days and happy you like the quick format. Thank you for taking time to post the review.
210 million! That’s the number of results that came up on Google when I searched the words inflammation and diet.
Inflammation can be good thing or a not so good thing. Inflammation is good if it’s short term such as when cut yourself and your immune system sends in white blood cells to jump start the healing process.
Inflammation is not so good when it becomes chronic or on-going inflammation in your body. This type of inflammation, which is invisible to your eye, gets all the media attention because it’s been implicated as an underlying cause of many common diseases from heart disease and autoimmune illness like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis to some cancers, diabetes, and even stroke.
Chronic inflammation can damage your blood vessels, which increases your risk for heart problems. In cancer, inflammation can damage your genes or increase the development of blood vessels that let’s cancer cells spread and grow.
Did you know that chronic inflammation and obesity are linked too? Recent studies have shown that obesity may be causing chronic inflammation which in-turn causes insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that helps your cells take up sugar. If your body becomes resistant to insulin, your blood glucose or blood sugar remains high. Insulin resistance could be a factor in both diabetes and weight gain. These effects make obesity and inflammation like a case of the chicken and the egg. Which comes first? Obesity causes inflammation and chronic inflammation can eventually lead to obesity.
This inflammation in the body raises the level of a marker known as C-reactive protein or CRP for short. The liver produces this CRP during periods of inflammation so it makes sense that if the body has chronic inflammation going on, the CRP level will be elevated. Doctors measure this level of general inflammation in the body with a blood test called high-sensitivity C-reactive protein or hs-CRP.
Numerous foods are touted to single handedly fight inflammation. But that’s just not how it works. For your diet to have an anti-inflammatory effect the key is not to focus on a single food or food component. The ultimate success of the anti inflammatory diet approach is based on synergy. Think of your favorite team, basketball, soccer, football, whatever it is. To win and to continue to win, the team must work closely together. In the same way, the synergistic effect of nutrients and bioactive compounds consumed together from a variety of healthy foods provides the best anti-inflammatory outcome.
The good news is that inflammation can be reduced with a diet that includes lots of anti-inflammatory foods. Remember these foods are for after surgery when you’ve progressed thru the various diet phases and now eat a regular diet. Let’s talk about seven of these anti inflammatory foods and food components.
1. Garlic, herbs and spices. These contain various anti-inflammatory phytochemicals or naturally occurring plant nutrients. Until exact amounts are determined, you can include garlic, turmeric, ginger, oregano, rosemary, thyme and pepper as part of your daily diet.
Note: Did you try the Golden Turmeric and Ginger Latte that my intern Pitchaya created? It’s great day for a cozy day.
2. This one may surprise you. Fiber ranks as one of the most anti-inflammatory components. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is not absorbed by your body so it helps to keep you full without adding extra calories. Foods rich in fiber include whole grains (oatmeal, quinoa, whole wheat), nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
What about beans such as black, kidney or garbanzo and lentils? Also a good source of fiber and low on the glycemic index, they help keep your blood sugar in check. And when you eat more beans and lentils you tend to crave and eat less processed or foods that have zero nutrition such as cookies, cakes, chips and pastries which by the way can make your blood sugar level spike and have been tied to inflammation.
Science 101: beans and whole grains contain fermentable fiber, which may be particularly helpful to the microbiota of the colon. This fermentable fiber produces butyrate, a fatty acid that assists in maintaining the intestinal wall and protecting from substances that could increase inflammatory reactions.
Bottom line: when you are choosing the carbs for your day, choose smart ones that will make a difference in your health after surgery.
3. Vegetables and fruit. For best benefits, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is the goal due to the powerful assortment of naturally occurring phytochemical or plant nutrients found in them. One easy tip: choose a colorful combination of fruits and vegetables to know you are eating a variety. You still need to limit the portions to the amounts that fit into your plan for the day.
Spinach, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are all good examples. Don’t forget Bing cherries and tart cherries. The Agricultural Research Service has conducted studies on Bing cherries and found that regular consumption lowers the CRP inflammation marker in the body. Anthocyanins are one of the natural phytonutrients in tart cherries that give them their bright red color. These phytonutrients are linked to reduced inflammation.
4. Seafood such as tuna, salmon and sardines which are rich in omega-3 fats that play various beneficial roles in the body such as suppressing inflammation. Eating fish once or twice a week is a smart goal.
5. Flaxseeds, algae, walnuts and pumpkin seeds which are plant sources of omega-3 fats. The plant source is called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA and converts in the body to omega-3 fats but the conversion rate is low, about 10-15%.
6 and 7. Avocados and nuts: both are rich in monounsaturated fats, the more heart healthy type of fat and both contain anti-inflammatory components. Eating these also helps you to cut down on saturated fat as which can raise the lousy LDL cholesterol level and promote inflammation. Bonus: both are filling so help you feel satisfied.
Your big take away today is that the secret to the success of the anti inflammatory diet is the synergistic effect from a variety of foods such as beans and lentils, herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables, nuts, avocado and fish…all rich in various vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and bioactive compounds.
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