Discover the Power of
Healing Foods! Newsletter
Issue #002

Wed 14 November 2012


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Best Healing Foods for
Inflammation and Chronic Pain

Would it surprise you to know that inflammation and chronic pain accompany most conditions and illnesses? Probably not. But what can you do about it (apart from taking anti-inflammatory drugs, that is)?




This article will answer these questions:

What Causes Inflammation and Chronic Pain?

Nuts and Bolts of Inflammation and Chronic Pain

What Foods Am I Eating That Make Inflammation Worse?

What Healing Foods Should I Eat To Reduce Inflammation and Pain?

12 Foods That Can Help Reduce Pain and Inflammation

Action Plan to Beat Inflammation and Chronic Pain

3 Recipes to Help you Fight Inflammation

Supplements That Can Help You Fight Inflammation and Chronic Pain

What Causes Inflammation and Chronic Pain?

While everybody notices if a part of their body aches, inflammation is not always easy to detect. Yet it can be very common, slowly and quietly attacking healthy tissue in the brain, arteries and joints, indeed, every part of the body, leading to a large number of different illnesses and diseases.

In fact, many chronic diseases are basically inflammatory conditions. These include arthritis (inflammation of the joints), eczema (inflammation of the skin), asthma (inflammation of the lungs) and coronary artery disease (inflammation of the arteries).

Nobody likes having inflammation and pain but they are actually natural defence mechanisms and we would be in serious trouble if those mechanisms didn't work properly.

For those of you who like technical details, here is how it works or...

...skip to the Healing Foods section if you want.

Nuts and Bolts of Inflammation
and Chronic Pain

inflammatory response in the body

The body uses inflammatory messengers called leukotrienes and prostaglandins to control major aspects of the immune system's response.

This is how these messengers work:

  • They control the intensity of the attack by requesting that white cells come to the site of the infection or injury.
  • They control the collateral damage done during the attack by concentrating the white blood cell army in certain area of the tissue.
  • They control how long the attack lasts, by helping the white blood cells to stay alive longer than they should on their own.

The problem arises when there are too many of these messengers - our immune system overreacts with devastating consequences.

The question is: Can we block the production of these inflammatory messengers so that we're making enough to defend ourselves against disease and infection, yet not making too many?

We need to understand first how these inflammatory messengers - leukotrines and prostaglandins - come into being.

They are synthesized from an omega-6 fatty acid called arachidonic acid (AA). Obviously, we need a certain amount of AA to support the immune system. But when we have too much AA, we produce too many inflammatory messengers.

In order for AA to turn into prostaglandins, it has to go through a chemical process. This is where some of anti-inflammatory drugs on the market come in. For example, aspirin blocks crucial enzymes involved in this process, called COX-1 and COX-2. In other words, drugs like aspirin cut pain and inflammation off by preventing those inflammatory messengers from being produced.

But they are not without side-effects. As we all know, when taken for long periods of time, they can cause numerous gastro-intestinal complications, from minor stomach upset to potentially life-threatening complications such as stomach bleeding, heart attack and stroke.

Also these drugs don't only block the formation of inflammatory messengers, they also prevent the formation of beneficial messengers, causing devastating cardiovascular problems.

I can hear you asking: Is there a natural alternative to these drugs? Yes, indeed there is. But first, let's consider:



What Foods am i eating that
make inflammation worse?

There's no doubt that the disproportionate intake of saturated fats in our diet plays an important role in the epidemic of chronic inflammatory diseases like heart disease, arthritis and asthma.

All animal fat, found in meat and dairy products, contains a lot of preformed AA that gets converted directly into a huge amount of inflammatory messengers.

Another problem with saturated fats is that they reduce the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids in quenching inflammation.

Also our diet is too rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which also get converted into prostaglandins and increase inflammation.

The right ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet should be between 2:1 and 3:1, but today is more between 6:1 and 20:1.

Omega-6 fatty acids are found mainly in vegetable oils and margarines, which are added to all sorts of processed foods. These oils are very prone to going rancid or oxidizing because they've been stripped of the natural anti-oxidants that normally accompany plant foods.

Also these oils can be hydrogenated to form margarines. These trans-fats disrupt normal cell membrane structure and are even worse that saturated fats in causing inflammation throughout the body.

What Healing Foods should i eat
to Reduce Inflammation and Pain?

One thing is for sure, not all fats are bad. In fact, the polyunsaturated fats of the omega-3 family are essential to good health and vital in reducing inflammation.

These oils are founds primarily in fatty fish, but they're also present in flax, hemp, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

Many studies have proven the anti-inflammatory effects of fish and fish oils - Read my article on Fish Oil Benefits.

But to benefit fully from them, you need to cut down on meat and dairy products, and/or change where possible to genuinely low-fat products.

Phytochemicals present in foods have been known to act as COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitors almost as successfully as drugs, but without the side-effects.

12 foods that can help reduce
pain and inflammation

Aloe Vera - perhaps the most well-studied and best recognized anti-inflammatory substance. It can be taken as a drink and as topical gel.

Turmeric - it's a rich source of curcumin, a strong antioxidants that protects against free radical damage and because of its high levels of COX-2 inhibitors, has been found to be more effective than celecoxib for treating arthritis pain and any type of pain and inflammation, for that matter.

It also reduces inflammation by lowering histamine levels and possibly stimulating the adrenal glands to produce more cortisone, the body's natural painkiller. To help relieve acute pain consider adding turmeric supplements to your diet.

Ginger - has been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory treatment for centuries and with good reasons. It contains at least four natural COX-2 inhibitors.

Celery stalks and seeds - contain high amounts of painkilling apigenin, which can help reduce pain and inflammation from a variety of disorders, including gout.

Onions and garlic - many compounds present in these foods have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties on conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, diabetes, heart disease and more.

Licorice - has been found to have at least 24 anti-inflammatory compounds, 5 of which are natural COX-2 inhibitors - but don't use it for long periods of time if you have high blood pressure.

Berries - blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cherries are all rich in anti-oxidants compounds that are essential in fighting inflammation. Phytochemicals in blueberries help the body repair damage already caused by inflammation.

Chamomile - although best known as a calming herb, chamomile also contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds such as apigenin, luteolin and quercetin. Other herbs with an anti-inflammatory effects are mint and oregano, both can be easily included in your diet.

Green tea - a rich source of anti-inflammatory catechins, can actually slow down cartilage breakdown and decrease chronic inflammation.

Chile peppers - hot peppers contain aspirin-like compounds known as salicylates, as well as capsaicin that triggers the release of opiate-like substances known as endorphins.

When applied topically, capsaicin temporarily depletes substance P, a chemical in nerves that transmits pain sensations. Dozens of studies show that capsaicin can temporarily relieve many painful conditions.

Pineapple - contains bromelain, an enzyme that helps reduce swelling and inflammation in many inflammatory conditions.

Elderberries - studies have found an elderberry extract called Sambucol effective for stimulating the immune system because of its flavonoids and anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

Elderberry jam, juice and wine haven't been studied yet, but I can't imagine them not being full of the same anti-inflammatory compounds.


This list could include many more foods, but these are some of the more powerful ones that anybody can include in their diet.




action plan to beat inflammation
and chronic pain

  • Cut down on red meat and dairy products. Perhaps you could have meat (if you can't do without) 2 or 3 times a week - choose poultry, without the skin, or venison and wild game, which contain less preformed AA - and the rest of the week you could have fish and/or vegetarian proteins like beans, whole grains, nuts and tofu.
  • Eat fish like wild salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines and fresh tuna at least twice a week. Farmed fish is usually fed soybean and corn, which are very high in omega-6. These are turned into AA very efficiently by the fish, so instead of turning down inflammation we would actually increase it.
  • Eliminate processed and refined foods from your diet, they too tend to increase inflammation in the body. Eat only whole grain foods and whole grain cereals - read about them by clicking on the link.
  • Every day include as many of the foods listed above as you can. Try some of my recipes below to help you do just that.
  • Drink chamomile and green tea throughout the day, plus if you have a juicer, try making juice from celery or elderberries, add some fresh ginger too.
  • Supplements you could take are: turmeric and boswellia, evening primrose oil (at least 3,000 mg.) along with good quality fish oil (at least 2-3 1,000 mg. caps per day) or, even better, krill oil - read about the benefits of krill oil.

3 Recipes to Help you Fight Inflammation


Anti-Inflammatory Drink

golden turmeric milk

Ideal for any inflammation and pain, even when you have a sore throat.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

2 cm of fresh ginger root, grated

1/4 cup of water

1 cup of non-dairy milk (like soya, almond or coconut)

1 teaspoon Manuka honey

1 teaspoon good quality raw honey

Method:

Putt the turmeric and ginger in a small saucepan with the water and boil until the liquid has reduced almost completely (about 10-15 mins).

Add most of the milk to the pan but keep some behind, as you want to add it at the end to cool down the liquid. You don't want to add honey to very hot milk as the nutrients would be lost.

Strain the liquid through a sieve and press on the paste to squeeze out all the liquid. Add the cold milk and the honey and stir until dissolved. Sip slowly.

Warm Celery Soup


Ingredients:

4 to 8 celery stalks

1 cup diced cabbage

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

The following to taste:

cayenne pepper, chives, turmeric, basil, ginger, rosemary, sage and/or thyme, and black pepper


Method:

Put all the ingredients in a pot, add water to cover and bring to the boil. Cook until the vegetables are tender.


The Healthiest Cookies in the World


The beauty of these cookies is that they're not too sweet, as they contain only natural sugars, but they're extremely satisfying. And you can eat them with a clear conscience, knowing that they're full of anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Ingredients:

70 g. Brazil nuts

125 g. raw almonds

40 g. coconut flakes

90 g. dried prunes

50 g. dried apricots

40 g. mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkins, sesame, flax)

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

A few drops of apple juice if you need more liquid

Method:

Whiz the nuts in a food processor for a few seconds, then add all the other ingredients and whiz until the mixture comes together, adding a little extra apple juice to help bind the cookies together if necessary.

Divide the mixture into equal pieces, as small or as big as you like, and shape into balls. Flatten to a thickness of 5 mm and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.

Bake for 15 mins or until just firm and golden brown in a medium oven (180 C), then cool on a wire rack. They can keep for several days in an air-tight container.


If you would like to know about what supplements can help in fighting inflammation and chronic pain, have a look at the next page for some helpful advice...

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