Q. I have heard a lot about inflammation lately… what can I do to prevent it?
A. Believe it or not, inflammation can be a good thing for the body; for this conversation’s sake, we will focus on the negative, chronic effects of prolonged inflammation. Diet controls a large portion (no pun intended) of how our body deals with and reacts to inflammation. If we load our bodies up with processed foods and fast foods, our bodies do not know how to handle- much less digest- these foreign toxins.
This constant battle causes our bodies to eventually break down and we get some noticeable (and not so noticeable) symptoms: brittle nails, bad breath, achy joints, acne, excess weight, trouble sleeping, fatigue and lethargy, just to name a few. Sometimes you can even trigger inflammation by eating a healthy diet- if you have an allergy to gluten, nuts, or nightshade veggies (like eggplant), for example, your body will react with bloating, pain, or gas.
If you find that this is the case with you, try eliminating the particular trigger foods and see if your symptoms disappear. Yet another cause of inflammation can be an acid-alkaline imbalance in the body. Most people these days are highly acidic from eating processed foods, consuming lots of sugars (fruit juices included), alcohol, coffee, and even black tea; too much acid in the body creates a toxic environment that is the perfect breeding ground for inflammation. I could go into much more depth (for pages and pages) if space allowed, but for now I will focus on a few beneficial foods that are known to fight inflammation (provided that you do not have a negative reaction to consuming them).
The capsaicin found in hot peppers (like jalapenos) isknown to break down the damaging enzymes responsible for inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. Quercetin, found in apple skins and onions is a natural histamine inhibitor that protects against certain environmental allergens. Pineapple contains a beneficial enzyme called bromelain, which is known to decrease inflammation and pain in the body- especially after an injury or surgery; it will not take the place of Advil or ibuprofen, but is a good idea to regularly consume if you want to prevent or stave off inflammation.
Just make sure not to cook pineapple, for heat will destroy the valuable enzymes. Dark leafy greens may seem like a no-brainer, but did you know that they contain an omega-3 that has similar anti-inflammatory benefits as those found in fish? Seeds, such as pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds (and walnuts) also contain valuable omega-3 fatty acids, but are best when consumed raw- heating will also destroy their natural enzymes.
Wild salmon, sardines, and even mackerel are known to boast high omega-3 levels; to decrease their mercury level, make sure to purchase them organically and farm-raised. Last, and certainly not least is the olive; olives and olive oil are high is omega-9 fatty acids- the more unrefined the oil, the better. Once again, raw consumption allows for the biggest nutritional boost. Foods are powerful- use them to give your body the cleanest source of energy possible; if you need help, email me!
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a certified personal trainer and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “Empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email Crystal@101FIT.com. She can also be reached at www.101FIT.com and (239) 333-5771.