Inflammation and Your Health

Arthritic Hand with Swelling

Inflammation is a protective mechanism produced by the body in response to an injury, and when you stub your toe or scrape your elbow, you see inflammation at work. Certain diseases such as arthritis, allergies, and aging are linked to inflammation, and if you haven’t heard about systemic inflammation, you might want to know how it works because it’s important to good health.

When your body reacts and becomes inflamed certain chemicals increase in your body. One such chemical known to increase is C-reactive protein or CRP. Some physicians believe that normal levels of CRP, and even slight elevations, may be harmful and may increase your risk for stroke, heart disease, and other numerous diseases. Their theory is that to avoid this systemic inflammation in the body, you need to balance the amount of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods. So, let’s look at the following example.

Example of Typical Diet on Any Given Day
Food Source Serving Size Inflammation Factor
Almonds 1/8 cup 39
Apple, raw, w/o skin 1/2 cup -10
Broccoli, boiled w/o salt 1 stalk  222
Canola Harvest Margarine 1 T 45
Carrots, boiled w/o salt 1/4 cup 32
Chicken breast, roasted 1/2 cup -21
Fruit yogurt 8 ounces -163
Garlic 1 T 303
Instant oatmeal 1 package -60
Low-fat Swiss cheese 1 cup -22
Olive oil 1 T 71
Orange juice, concentrate 8 ounces -176
Pasta, cooked 1 1/2 cups -201
Tomato/vegetable juice,
low sodium
8 ounces 64
Turkey, breast meat roasted 8 ounces -69
White Long Grain Rice 1 cup -169
Whole Grain Bread 1 slice -31
    Net Difference    -146

In this example, I have good fats—Canola Harvest Margarine and olive oil—and I have some good protein—chicken, turkey, and almonds. I also have my daily requirement of fruits and vegetables. In addition, I’m eating whole grain bread, low-fat cheese, and low-sodium tomato juice. It looks like a well-balanced, healthy diet. Yet, according to inflammation rating created by Monica Reingal, this is a moderate inflammation diet. That’s because the inflammatory foods are the negative ones, and the higher the negative number the more inflammatory the food. The non-inflammatory foods are the positive ones, and the higher the positive number the greater it’s anti-inflammatory factor. On this list orange juice is the most inflammatory and garlic the greatest anti-inflammatory.

In the example above, our overall inflammatory number is 922 and our overall anti-inflammatory number is 776, which results in an overall inflammation factor for the day of -146. The recommendation is that you be 50+ or higher each day. In this instance, we would have been well below the requirement with our -146, and that would indicate we were eating a moderate inflammatory diet. To reduce our inflammation factor and to be at the required 50+, we would need to remove some negatives, such as the fruit yogurt, apple, and whole grain bread, which would then bring us to 58, just barely above the 50 needed to be considered a non-inflammatory diet.

If you want to learn more about the inflammatory factor or check to see where your diet stands in relation to inflammation and anti-inflammatory foods, visit Nutrition Data. You can also read Reingal’s book, The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan, which provides customized eating plans, recipes, and self-assessment tools.

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