Most polyunsaturated vegetable oils like safflower, sunflower, corn, peanut and soy, are high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid that the body converts into arachidonic acid, another omega-6 fatty acid that has a predominantly pro-inflammatory influence. These same oils contain almost no omega-3’s (found in rich supply in coldwater fish, phytoplankton, and flaxseed), which soothe inflammation. Our prehistoric ancestors ate a diet with an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 1:1. Our current ratio is anywhere between 10:1 and 25:1!
For most people, high-carb, low-protein diets are inflammatory. We’ve seen repeatedly that low-carb diets reduce inflammation for most people. But you will need to listen to your own body and carefully observe which foods fuel inflammation for you. You may also want to consider following an anti-inflammatory diet.
Refined sugar and other foods with high glycemic values jack up insulin levels and put the immune system on high alert. (The glycemic index measures the immediate impact of a food on blood sugar levels; surges of blood sugar trigger the release of insulin).
Common allergens like casein and gluten (proteins found in dairy and wheat) are quick to spark the inflammatory cascade. Anyone suffering from coeliac disease knows how inflammatory wheat can be. Foods high in trans fats create LDL’s, or “bad cholesterol”, which feeds inflammation in the arteries. Trans fats also create renegade cells called free radicals that damage healthy cells and trigger inflammation.
So the first step in cooling inflammation on a cellular level is to pay attention to your diet, in particular your glycemic load (a measure of the glycemic index and portion of a food), essential fatty acid intake, and food sensitivities. As we get older, foods that never bothered us before, like dairy and wheat, may trigger chronic low-grade indigestion or other seemingly minor symptoms that put our immune system on guard — with additional inflammatory concerns to follow. Probiotics (supplements containing the “good” bacteria that support healthy digestion) have been proven to be as effective in treating symptoms of irritable bowel as medication.
Going on a low-carbohydrate or very low glycemic diet can soothe inflammation in the body and allow healing to take place. If you are interested I can provide low-carb, paleo and low-glycemic food combining plans as well as weight-loss guides that fit into an anti-inflammatory way of eating for improved health. Just email me! – Kim