Categories
Uncategorized

How to Manage Inflammation with Right Diet

Important Points:

  • Chronic inflammation
  • Mediterranean Diet
  • Processed Foods
  • Refined carbohydrates

How to Manage Inflammation with Right Diet

Redness, hotness, swelling, and pain are the key signs of inflammation. Inflammation is not entirely a bad thing as it alerts us to the presence of an injury or infection, but when it is present long term, it becomes harmful. This chronic inflammation may last for weeks, months, or even years. Recent evidence suggests that the underlying cause of many chronic diseases is linked to chronic inflammation, so an approach that focuses on preventing chronic inflammation may be the best remedy for dealing with the associated chronic diseases. This article sheds light on how diet can be used to prevent chronic inflammation.

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is a defense mechanism that the body employs in order to protect itself from infection, illness, or injury. Acute infection is usually accompanied by pain at the site, redness, hotness, and swelling, but inflammation, especially internal chronic inflammation, may not have these signs. When infection or inflammation occurs, the body increases the production of white blood cells, immune cells, and substances called cytokines that help fight it, and when the inflammation is the long-term internal type, the body may actually be attacking itself in a way. Inflammation may be caused by injury and infection, but chronic inflammation is also linked to an unhealthy diet, high-stress levels, and lifestyle diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Diet-Induced Inflammation

Some foods have been linked to inflammation, and when you consume these foods regularly you are likely to develop inflammation-related diseases.

Refined foods are made from carbohydrates that have been processed, and processed foods have been shown to cause inflammation. Some studies have linked refined carbs with inflammation, insulin resistance, and obesity. Processed and packaged foods are also likely to contain trans fats that have been linked to inflammation and destruction of endothelial cells that line the arteries in the heart. Examples of refined foods include white rice (but not brown rice), bread, pasta (but not whole wheat pasta), cakes, and other pastries made from refined flour. Trans fats are partially hydrogenated fats that are used in the preparation of most processed foods such as pizzas, cookies, and cakes. Processed meat such as bacon and sausages also contain unhealthy fats that may trigger chronic inflammation.

Numerous studies have linked chronic inflammation to an unhealthy diet. If you want to reduce inflammation, eat fewer inflammatory foods and more anti-inflammatory foods by adopting a fiber-rich and nutrient-dense diet with minimal amounts of processed foods. Diets that contain antioxidants can minimize your chances of developing chronic inflammation as antioxidants fight off free radicals created as a natural part of your metabolism; these free radicals can lead to inflammation when they’re not held in check.

An ideal anti-inflammatory diet should provide enough protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fat in the required proportions and contain natural foods instead of processed ones. The Mediterranean diet is one kind of diet that has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers.

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet originates from the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Its mainstay is healthy fats, and it is centered on locally sourced animal products, seafood, vegetables, nuts, butter and olive oil. Mediterranean diets omit refined and processed foods. When it comes to alcohol, the Mediterranean diet allows the intake of red wine in moderation. A low carbohydrate diet also reduces inflammation particularly for people who are obese or have metabolic syndrome.  An often overlooked component of the Mediterranean diet is the lifestyle which involves much higher levels of human connectedness as well as periods of intermittent fasting.

The health risks of inflammatory foods

Most foods that have been linked to type 2 diabetes are also associated with inflammation and are also likely to cause weight gain and obesity. It appears that ingredients in these foods have an independent role to play in the development of inflammation.

On the contrary, foods and beverages that reduce inflammation have been linked to reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Foods such as blueberries, apples, and leafy greens are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols, compounds that have cardioprotective effects as well as anti-cancer effects. Whole nuts have also been linked to reduced markers of inflammation as well as a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

  • By altering what you eat you could reduce your chances of chronic inflammation. To wrap this up, here are foods to eat and foods to avoid.
  • Pro-inflammation Foods to Avoid
  • Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, white pasta
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas
  • Sweetened baked treats such as cakes, cookies
  • Processed snacks such as chips and pretzels
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Anti-inflammatory Foods to Eat
  • Real food, including animal products
  • Fatty fish that is rich in omega oils such as salmon, herring, and anchovies
  • Vegetables
  • Dark chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Red wine

References

1.   NCBI (2012): Comparison with ancestral diets suggests dense acellular carbohydrates promote an inflammatory microbiota, and maybe the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22826636

2.   NCBI (2014): The effects of the Mediterranean diet on biomarkers of vascular wall inflammation and plaque vulnerability in subjects with high risk for cardiovascular disease. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24925270

3.   NCBI (2013): Very low carbohydrate diet significantly alters the serum metabolic profiles in obese subjects. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24224694

4.   NCBI (2004): Effects of a long-term vegetarian diet on biomarkers of antioxidant status and cardiovascular disease risk. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15474873

 

Categories
Uncategorized

Foods That Improve Insulin Sensitivity

Important Points:

  • Insulin sensitivity
  • Insulin resistance
  • Fiber
  • Processed foods

Foods That Improve Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin is an essential hormone responsible for regulating levels of blood sugar, and the bodies response to the release of insulin is called insulin sensitivity. When the sensitivity is high, the body will require a small amount of insulin to reduce blood sugar levels. When sensitivity is low, the body may fail to respond to even high levels of insulin, and this labeled as insulin resistance.

Insulin is made by beta cells in the pancreas. When the body’s cells are insulin resistant, they can’t use insulin effectively and the blood sugar level rises as it builds up in the blood. When your pancreas senses high blood sugar, it makes more insulin to overcome the resistance, but this may not improve the situation. Chronic insulin resistance, common in type 2 diabetes, may deplete beta cells in the pancreas. Prolonged high blood sugar can damage nerves and organs, so improving insulin sensitivity to reduce insulin resistance in imperative.

Here are 8 ways to improve insulin sensitivity.

1.   Eat More Soluble Fiber

Eating soluble fiber has many health benefits and has been linked to increased insulin sensitivity

There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber helps in forming stool that can easily move through the bowels, while soluble fiber plays a huge role in promoting insulin sensitivity, as shown in a study published in NCBI. Another study showed that women who ate more soluble fiber had significantly lower levels of insulin resistance. Soluble fiber promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in your gut which has been linked to decreased insulin resistance.

Foods that are rich in soluble fiber include legumes, oatmeal, flaxseeds, Brussels sprouts, and fruits like oranges.

2.   Eat More Colorful Fruit and Vegetables

Colorful fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which rid the body of free radicals causing harmful inflammation and insulin resistance.

3.   Use Herbs and Spices

A number of spices play a role in promoting insulin sensitivity. They include:

  • Fenugreek seeds have high soluble fiber content. A 2001 study concluded that “fenugreek seeds improves glycemic control and decreases insulin resistance in mild type-2 diabetic patients.”
  • Turmeric containsan active component called curcumin which has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which help to reduce insulin resistance.
  • Ginger contains acomponent called gingerol which increases sugar uptake and improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Cinnamon is known for its ability to reduce blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity.

4.   Drink More Green Tea

Green tea is a choice drink for people with diabetes type 2. Green tea has been linked to increased insulin sensitivity and reduced blood sugar levels. Green tea also has antioxidants that help to fight off free radicals and many other health benefits.

5.   Try Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar, a key ingredient in apple cider vinegar, could help increase insulin sensitivity by reducing blood sugar and improving the effectiveness of insulin. Vinegar helps to slow gastric emptying hence allowing time for the body more time to absorb sugar. This gives insulin more time to act. Apple cider vinegar can be added to cold salads or drinks.

6.  Cut Down on Carbs

Carbs are the main stimulus behind high sugar levels and the production of insulin. Carbs release sugar into the bloodstream when they are broken down, and this sugar is an essential source of energy for the body. When the body breaks down carbs into glucose and releases it into the blood, the pancreas releases insulin to move the glucose from the blood into the cells. Consuming excessive carbs could cause insulin resistance because of the excess glucose from those carbs sparks an overproduction of insulin. Reducing your carbohydrate intake could increase insulin sensitivity. There is no need to eliminate carbs as that will cause other problems. Processed carbs that are likely to trigger insulin resistance include white rice, pasta, and white bread.

7.  Avoid Artificial Trans Fats

Trans fats are partially hydrogenated oils that are usually added to processed foods to help them keep for longer and to give them a better taste. Foods that typically contain artificial trans fats include cakes, cookies, pies, doughnuts, and fried fast foods. Artificial trans fats are typically found in more processed foods.  

Trans fats have been shown to cause inflammation and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared trans fats unsafe to eat in 2018, however, this directive is yet to be implemented by manufacturers. It is up to you the consumer to scrutinize the ingredient list before buying any processed foods.

8.   Reduce Your Intake of Artificial Sugars

Artificial sugars are mostly found in processed foods, and they contain two main types of sugar: high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar known as sucrose. Fructose has been linked to insulin resistance even in people with no diabetes.

Can Supplements Help to Improve Insulin Sensitivity?

The idea of taking natural supplements is a controversial one and may require consultation with your physician. If you have been diagnosed with insulin resistance, you may benefit from taking supplements that increase insulin sensitivity. These include chromium, berberine, and magnesium supplements which are linked to increased insulin sensitivity. Another compound, Resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes and other berries also appears to increase insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.

Since supplements can interact with other medication, it is important to consult your doctor before you start taking them.

References

1.   NCBI (2011): Trans Fatty Acids Induce Vascular Inflammation and Reduce Vascular Nitric Oxide Production in Endothelial Cells. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3247279/

2.   NCBI (2013): Adverse metabolic effects of dietary fructose: results from the recent epidemiological, clinical, and mechanistic studies. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23594708

3.   NCBI (2014): The impact of soluble dietary fiber on gastric emptying, postprandial blood glucose and insulin in patients with type 2 diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24901089

4.   NCBI (2013): The Role of Gut Microbiota on Insulin Resistance. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705322/

5.   NCBI (2001): Effect of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) seeds on glycaemic control and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a double blind placebo controlled study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11868855

6.   NCBI (2014): Effect and mechanisms of action of vinegar on glucose metabolism, lipid profile, and body weight. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25168916