Inflammation comes into play in our bodies when bacteria, viruses or other invaders are recognized and attacked by our immune system.
This system defends our health and is made up of white blood cells, “lymphocyte cells”, “natural killer cells” and others – many of which originate in the bone marrow and then travel in the blood to organs and tissues.
In a healthy body, inflammation smooths the healing process but for some people, the body can become confused and begin to mount a defense against its own tissues. This can lead to arthritis, celiac disease, irritable bowel disease and others. In fact, inflammation has been shown to be at the root of the majority of health conditions we face such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, inflammatory bowel disease and more.
Eating naturally anti-inflammatory foods can reduce the symptoms of inflammation and disease and help to repair and heal the body. Here are the top three food-based inflammation fighters.
Vitamin D has been the subject of many studies for its potent anti-inflammation properties. The foods highest in vitamin D include eggs, sardines, salmon, mackerel, herring, raw maitake mushrooms, cod liver oil, and organic vitamin D fortified milk and yogurt.
A study from the Journal of Investigative Medicine found that vitamin D has important functions beyond those of supporting calcium and bones in the body. It concluded that vitamin D is a boost to immunity and a deficiency is common in autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake.
Vitamin D has also been studied for its benefits for sleeplessness and insomnia. The results of a vitamin D study was published in a recent issue of the journal “Medical Hypothesis”. The researchers followed 1500 patients over a 2 year period. A consistent level of vitamin D was maintained in their blood over many months.
This produced normal sleep in most of the participants, regardless of their type of sleep disorder, which suggests that many types of insomnia may share the same cause. During the research, the authors discovered the presence of high concentrations of vitamin D “receiving sites” or “receptors” in those areas of the brain that are related to the onset and maintenance of sleep.
A recent research study in the journal “Nutrients” has a lot of good things to say about the benefits of walnuts. The authors say: “Walnuts could be predicted to be more anti-inflammatory than other nuts for two reasons. First, walnuts are the only nuts that contain substantial amounts of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid is a kind of omega-3 fatty acid found in plants). ALA is described as one of the more anti-inflammatory fatty acids. And second, walnuts are also particularly rich in ellagic acid (a natural plant chemical found in fruits and vegetables), which has shown potent anti-inflammatory properties in experimental studies.”
Eating a handful of walnuts before bedtime may also be a good way to soothe sleeplessness and insomnia due to the melatonin they contain. Russel Reiter, Ph.D., a professor of cellular biology at the University of Texas says: “Relatively few foods have been examined for their melatonin content. Our studies demonstrate that walnuts contain melatonin, that it is absorbed when it is eaten, and that it improves our ability to resist the stress caused by toxic molecules. Walnuts also contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to inhibit certain types of cancer and to keep the heart healthy.”
Oleic acid is the main fatty acid found in olive oil. This substance has been shown to greatly reduce levels of inflammation in the body. A study from the “Current Pharmaceutical Design” journal writes that “Chronic inflammation is a critical factor in the development of many inflammatory disease states including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, degenerative joint diseases and neurodegenerative diseases. Popular methods to deal with inflammation and its associated symptoms involve the use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, however the use of these drugs are associated with severe side effects.”
“Therefore, investigations concerned with natural methods of inflammatory control are warranted. A traditional Mediterranean diet has been shown to confer some protection against chronic diseases through the reduction of pro-inflammatory foods and this has been partially attributed to the high intake of virgin olive oil in this diet. Virgin olive oil contains numerous compounds that exert potent anti-inflammatory actions.”
The anti-inflammatory effects of olive oil also extend to brain health and it’s known to help with depression and insomnia. Olive oil can help balance hormones and keep the neurotransmitters in the brain functioning well.
Other top anti-inflammation foods include broccoli, green leafy vegetables, blueberries, bok choi, pineapple, coconut oil, turmeric, salmon, ginger, wild salmon, beets, garlic, oysters, yogurt, and other probiotic dairy foods. Enjoy a wide variety of them to reduce inflammation, increase overall health, and ensure a good, sound sleep.