Arthritis in your knees. Gastritis in your digestive tract. Dermatitis on your skin. Gingivitis in your gums. See the pattern?
“‘Itis’ diseases can set up shop in every part of your body,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Real Cause Real Cure. “Those conditions share the suffix ‘itis’ because they share a single symptom: inflammation.”
Dr. Teitelbaum, an expert in traditional and alternative medicines, says inflammation is an underlying cause of heart disease and many other conditions, including Alzheimer’s, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease. It’s also been implicated in many cancers.
Beat the Heat
Getting plenty of exercise, reducing stress, avoiding toxins such as tobacco smoke, and eating a healthy diet are proven ways to combat inflammation. Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, maintains that what you eat (and what you don’t) will play a significant role in the amount of inflammation in your body. “Learning how specific foods influence the inflammatory process is the best strategy for containing it and reducing long-term disease risks,” he writes.
Dr. Weil advises eating a variety of fresh, healthful foods; minimizing consumption of processed and fast foods; and consuming an abundance of fruits and vegetables. You can read more about his anti-inflammatory diet at Dr.Weil.com
Eat Healthy Fats
Dr. Teitelbaum notes that the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega 3s in our ancestors’ hunter/gatherer diet was once less than 2 to 1. Today, he says, the average American eats about 15 times as many omega 6s as omega 3s. “A diet with the wrong mix of fats—too many inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and too few inflammation-calming omega-3 fatty acids—causes chronic inflammation,” he says. He recommends several ways to improve the balance.
If you eat meat, choose grass-fed and free-range options, which are richer in omega 3s and lower in omega 6s than feedlot animals. This includes chicken.
Snack on nuts instead of chips and sweets.
Opt for olive oil for cooking, and use it instead of butter on bread.
Eat three to four servings of fish each week (not fried). Omega-3 rich varieties include salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, and trout.
Take a fish-oil supplement.
Look for these inflammation-fighting supplements:
Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is one of the few healthful omega-6 fatty acids found in the oils of some plant seeds, including evening primrose, borage, and black currant. It is converted by the body into inflammation-fighting compounds.
Natural eggshell membrane (NEM) relieves the pain and stiffness of joint and connective tissue disorders. Ingesting a daily 500-milligram (mg) supplement led to rapid (within seven days) and ongoing relief in two recent studies.
Botanical inflammation fighters include the spice turmeric and its chemical component curcumin, and herbs such as boswellia (also known as frankincense), ginger, andrographis, devil’s claw, and white willow bark.