The human body and its immune system excels at fighting foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. Signaling chemicals called interleukins tell cells whether they are needed to fight illness or they should wait in the wings. While these immune defenders are doing their jobs, soreness, fatigue and swelling can occur – the natural side effects of an immune system response – but will soon dissipate.
However, many people deal with immune systems that are consistently revved up. This is the problem with many chronic diseases and immune system dysfunction. The foods they are eating could increase or lessen inflammatory responses.
People with rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Hashimoto’s and other chronic illnesses may find that the right diet can help. Dr. Barry Sears, founder of the Inflammation and Research Foundation and author of the “Zone Diet,” and Dr. Andrew Weil, who offers the Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, have begun to tout certain foods.
As beneficial as some foods can be, it’s important to note that individuals are unique and certain foods may produce a particular response in some but not in others. Systematically isolating certain foods can help paint a picture of foods that can be problematic. Generally speaking, refined carbohydrates, sugar-sweetened beverages, fried foods and processed meats may increase inflammation, advises Harvard Health Publishing.
Conversely, certain foods and beverages have been identified as reducing inflammation. These include tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables, nuts (like almonds and walnuts), fatty fish, berries, avocados, green tea, peppers, grapes, turmeric and dark chocolate.
It is important to speak with a doctor before making any dietary changes. Discuss any inflammation issues you have been having and which foods might help. Generally speaking, a diet full of diverse, antioxidant-rich foods can provide relief for those with inflammation.