Food as Medicine

ASK THE EXPERT – As seen in the Surprise Independent, March 11, 2015
Inflammation is a hot topic in health circles. There is evidence suggesting it may be a factor in a host of ills ranging from neurological disorders, to allergies, to intestinal problems to heart disease.

Of course, not all inflammation is fire and brimstone. Acute inflammation protects and heals the body after an injury or infection. It is chronic inflammation that is the undesirable “fire bug.” Researchers have found evidence that diet may help us manage chronic inflammation.

Foods that contribute to inflammation can be found in virtually every aisle of the typical grocery store. However, items from the produce section appear to be the most effective in fighting inflammation-triggering free radicals and toxins.

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Add these foods below to your next shopping list.

  • Raisins – Despite its wrinkly appearance, the raisin can smooth away free radicals with its antioxidant properties.
  • Cherries – Berries are well known for their anti-inflammatory qualities. But tart cherries contain an extra-powerful dose of anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • Sweet potatoes – These orange spuds may be sweet in taste but they are not sweet on inflammation. They are chock-full of anti-inflammatory agents.
  • Soy – Beans in general are packed with anti-infl ammatory compounds but soy beans are kings of the hill because of their ability to reduce the inflammation marker C-reactive protein.
  • Walnuts – Almost all nuts are anti-infl ammatory foot soldiers but walnuts are five-star generals due to their abundance of plant-based omega-3s and antioxidants.
  • Basil – Many herbs and spices are rich in antioxidants but we usually just get a pinch of them mixed in with our food. Basil, on the other hand, can be eaten fresh.
  • Ginger – Studies show that ginger can reduce post-exercise inflammation and joint pain caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid
    arthritis.
  • Tea – A daily cup of tea isn’t just good for the soul. Green, white and black teas also are overflowing with antioxidants.

I propose a toast: Let’s raise our tea cups and toast the above-mentioned foods for their invaluable role in fighting chronic inflammation. As a wise person once said, “Where there’s tea, there’s hope.”

Tracy Garrett - Sun Health Center For Health & WellnessTracy Garrett is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Sun Health Center for Health and Wellbeing in Surprise. For more information, or to register for a class, call 623-455-5633 or go to www.sunhealthwellbeing.org.

Information provided in the section is from a multidisciplinary team of Sun Health professionals at the Center for Health and Wellbeing, based in Surprise, Arizona. However, it should not be a substitute for medical advice from your physician. To submit a question for consideration, email besunhealthy@sunhealth.org.

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