-Dr.Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC
I read an interesting article in the LA Times talks about the association between living longer and chronic inflammation in the body. It discusses the many changes that people can make to their diet to stop, or decrease, what doctors refer to as “silent inflammation.”
The point of this diet is not to lose weight, but instead, to calm down an over-active immune system. According to research, after invading bacteria and viruses are gone, the body’s defenses remain active. In other words, the body turns on itself and damages tissues. It is a silent process since the individual does not feel it occurring at the time, but it has later side effects that can turn into Alzheimer’s, heart disease or cancer.
When tested on mice, many different foods proved to reduce inflammation. Resveratrol, found in grape skin and red wine, has been shown to improve blood vessel function. Pomegranate juice, garlic and curcumin are other foods that were found to improve the health of mice as well.
Fish oil, rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, has been found to reduce the amount of triglycerides in blood and reduce blood pressure to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Population studies have shown that taking non-steroidal anti- inflammatory meds for other conditions can reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer’s.
Changing one’s diet is the best way to achieve these results. The Mediterranean diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, whole grains, alcohol and fats like olive and canola oil, has many anti-inflammatory features. Patients with autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and gastrointestinal problems see fewer flare-ups when they stick to the diet.
In general, keeping with a healthy lifestyle that includes a well- balanced diet and plenty of exercise will reduce inflammation and help you to live longer.