Chronic Inflammation Is The Real Killer (And 6 Foods That Reduce It)

This is one of my articles originally published on Care2. You can view it here.

102915379Obesity greatly increases your risk for disease (such as diabetes and heart  disease). We know that already. But is being overweight truly the direct  cause?

The short answer is, well, no.

In fact, being obese doesn’t directly cause you any health problems  at all.

Obesity (BMI greater than 30) is actually just a marker of disease.  Just as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or sleep apnoea are markers of  disease risk, so is obesity.

Basically, an unhealthy lifestyle will give different symptoms to different  people.

For example “Patient A” may develop high blood pressure but maintain a  healthy weight. Whereas “Patient B” may have normal blood pressure but gain  excessive weight easily. Both patients have increased risk for disease (assuming  they have unhealthy lifestyles), but their body’s show this risk with different  markers.

So if obesity is not the root cause of the problem, then what is?
Inflammation Is The Real Killer
Or metaflammation to be  more exact. It’s a form of long-term, low-grade inflammation of the cells.

As counterintuitive as it sounds, our body’s valuable protection  mechanism – inflammation – may actually be the root cause of many chronic  diseases we normally blame on obesity.

The inflammation we typically recognize and acknowledge is when we have sore  muscles, an injury or a sunburn. Because they ache. We don’t notice  metaflammation because it doesn’t physically hurt. But the signs are there, we  just never realized what they were.

You see inflammation requires a delicate balance. If the body’s inflammatory  response does not switch off or gets too intense, it can harm otherwise healthy  tissues. Then it becomes long-term inflammation- and a health problem.

So just to clarify: yes being overweight or obese does indirectly  increase your risk factor for disease, because it’s a marker, a signal, to  show there’s a problem.

But the actual driver behind the problem, appears to be long-term  inflammation. So we can say that inflammation is the cause of the  cause.

Reducing Internal Inflammation
If we  reduce our body’s internal inflammation, we can better manage blood pressure,  cholesterol levels, weight loss and all other diseases associated with unhealthy  lifestyle habits.

And the best cure for inflammation is of course, food. Real food. And  particularly foods high in anti-oxidants, which help combat inflammation.

Below are the top 6 anti-inflam foods to indulge in  this summer:

Berries: Including blueberries,  raspberries and strawberries. They are one of the most antioxidant-rich foods  available due to their high levels of phytonutrients, in particular a compound  called anthocyanin. These are the best ones.

Mushrooms: New studies continue to find that mushrooms are  in fact nutrient powerhouses, and are home to a very powerful and hard-to-find  antioxidant- ergothioneine. Most other vegetables are  high in anti-oxidants too, but none can compare to mushrooms.

Spices: Turmeric, ginger and garlic are thought to  have strong anti-inflammatory properties. The curcumin in turmeric has often  been found to be more effective than pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs.

Cruciferous vegetables: These veggies are actually flowers,  all nutrient-rich, particularly in antioxidants. They include broccoli, brussel  sprouts, kale and cauliflower.

Salmon or other oily fish: Very rich in omega-3 fatty acids  (known as EPA and DHA), the most effective anti-inflammatory  nutrients. But be mindful that world-wide fish stocks are under threat so  it’s best to choose sustainable fish. Fish oil  supplements make a great alternative, otherwise the vegetarian options mentioned  above definitely suffice.

Green Tea: Natural flavanoids in green tea have potent anti-inflammatory  properties. The effects remain with or without milk.