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Autoimmune Disease & Top 10 Tips for Combating This With the Food You Eat

dry spice turmeric in a wooden bowl close-up on a vintage background

Inflammation is behind so many diseases today that it really becomes vital to limit as much inflammation as possible and one of the ways this can be done is through the food you eat. Interestingly, there are foods to avoid and foods to take to optimize a healthier way to go.

Food is the best and original medicine

The top 10 foods to avoid if you want to limit inflammation in your system

1. Top of the list is sugar, and a veritable poison to the system being linked to inflammation and many chronic conditions including obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and acne. If you must have sugar, please limit to a maximum of 6 teaspoons per day from any source and make sure that it is not refined white sugar but at least the slightly less toxic natural brown sugar. Sugar hides under the guise of other names such as corn syrup or HFCS, dextrose, fructose, golden syrup, maltose, sorghum syrup, sucrose and more. Instead use fresh fruit, stevia or xylitol but avoiding all artificial sweeteners which have their own long list of dangers.

2. We need a safe balance of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids but too much of omega 6 and not enough of omega 3 are found in common cooking oils like canola and sunflower oils and many processed foods. There are much healthier alternatives like genuine extra virgin olive oil or macadamia oil.

3. Trans fats promote inflammation as well as obesity and resistance to insulin and are found in deep fried and fast foods, store bought baked goods and even peanut butter. As it is easy for trans fats to be hidden, play it safe by assuming they are in all processed and convenience foods.

4. Yet another cause of inflammation is actually dairy products to which a surprisingly high number of people are intolerant. In some people, milk can trigger an inflammatory response with different symptoms such as stomach disorders, rashes, acne, hives or even respiratory problems. Dairy can also be in less likely items such as baked goods, sauces and cereals.

5. Consuming factory farmed meat and poultry is yet another source of inflammation because of what they are fed (including antibiotics), their living conditions and being injected with hormones. Change to pasture raised meat and free range poultry and eggs. It is also safer to cut down on too much red meat when trying to avoid inflammation. It is suggested limiting your red meat meal to once a week.

6. Processed meats are chemically preserved and are never safe to eat – but especially when wanting to avoid inflammation.

7. While it may be difficult for some to cut out or even cut down on alcohol, regular consumption is known to cause irritation and inflammation of the esophagus, larynx and liver, possibly leading to tumors and cancer long term. Try to limit any alcoholic beverages to just one per day.

8. Refined grains have been stripped of any fiber and nutrients plus they have a higher glycemic index than their unprocessed cousins. Repeated consumption of such refined grains is a recipe for inflammation. Avoid all white rice, white flour, white bread, cereals, commercial baked goods and the rest which are frequently enhanced with extra sugar, salt, oils and artificial flavors to make them even more irresistible. Don't be taken in by a label that says “whole grains”.

9. When you use or consume artificial food additives, you are often just adding another cause of inflammation to your diet. Aspartame and MSG are two such examples which are particularly harmful. Be careful to read labels.

10. Just like being dairy intolerant, many people today are gluten sensitive and if they are, and they neglect to change to gluten-free, they are at great risk from developing inflammatory conditions. So now that we have covered the “NOs”, here is another list that will be much easier to stomach because it lists those foods that we encourage you to include in your diet for their anti-inflammatory properties.

True food is the ultimate medicine

The top 10 foods to include in your diet for a healthy anti-inflammatory way of eating

1. Turmeric or curcumin which is probably the number 1 spice for fighting inflammation. Not only a powerful and natural anti-inflammatory, modern research is now finding an astonishing array of antioxidant, anti-cancer, antibiotic, antiviral and other properties. Turmeric is recommended as a cancer fighter for all types of cancer when used in high doses but absorption is complicated so your own research would be necessary. Choose a pure turmeric powder, rather than a curry powder.

2. Yet another spice, and a cousin of turmeric, is ginger. Great for being anti-inflammatory but also used for counteracting the cold and relieving motion and morning sickness. Made into a tea, ginger will treat a whole range of health issues.

3. Omega 3 essential fatty acids are needed to fight inflammation and are found in wild caught salmon from safe, sustainable sources as well flax seed, flax seed oil and chia seeds.

4. Possibly not so readily available to everyone, but high on the list for both the Chinese and the Japanese in their cuisine, the shiitake mushroom is revered for its immune-boosting properties and its mild smoky taste. 5. The flavonoids in green tea are potent natural anti-inflammatory compounds that have been shown in numerous studies to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Equally rich in anti-inflammatory properties is rooibos tea (which is red instead of green).

6. Papayas or paw paws are a delicious fruit with a world wide appreciative audience. Together with other nutrients such as vitamin C and E, they help to reduce inflammation while improving digestion. Pineapples have similar properties.

7. All berries are high in antioxidants that ensure anti-inflammatory properties to fight many conditions. Along with blackberries, cranberries, strawberries and raspberries, the blueberry is delicious to eat and full of health giving goodness. Try to include one type of berry in your diet as often as you can but stick to organic to avoid pesticides.

8. Both extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil are full of monounsaturated fats that our bodies turn into effective anti-inflammatory agents.

9. Cruciferous veggies including broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are highly nutritious eaten lightly steamed with their anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.

10. Sweet potatoes or yams provide plenty of anti-inflammatory properties along with beta-carotene, manganese, vitamins B6 and C. An all round healthy vegetable to add to your diet when fighting inflammation.

Top ten tips to underscore the importance of food as your medicine to deal with and/or prevent inflammation.