It is not surprising if you have heard that food can can be your worst poison or best medicine. The fact of the matter is that statement is as true as the day is long. What we eat impacts our entire body, every system within, every process, every organ, muscle group, joint, and overall functionality. In the industrialized farming and food industry that dominates North America today, it is no surprise that chronic illness and inflammatory diseases are on the rise. Whether, you are suffering from one of these issues, have an acute injury, feel bloated, depleted of energy, or just off your game, an anti-inflammatory diet can help you.
How does inflammation work in the body?
Inflammation is part of the body’s defensive strategy for protecting itself. Initially, the body releases the immune response. There are two types of inflammation - chronic and acute. Chronic is a slow onset that can last up to years, while acute is sudden and rapid. Part of the immune response utilizes white blood cells and white blood cell substances to destroy foreign invaders. White blood cells will also move to an injured part of the body along with fluid and blood to essentially increase pain in that area in hopes of stopping the person from using that part of the body, preventing further injury.
In some instances inflammation does more damage than protection. One common way this occurs is with autoimmune diseases. Many times it is a response to inflammatory issues throughout the body (i.e leaky gut) and the immune system starts attacking healthy tissues and crucial parts of the body in response. This in return creates more harm to the body and a laundry list of horrible, symptomatic issues. In other situations, prolonged inflammation to an injured part of the body can lead to atrophy of the muscles.
What are some common conditions that cause or are caused by inflammation?
Common diseases we work with at our clinic include OA (Osteoarthritis) and RA (Rheumatoid arthritis). OA is a degenerative joint disease and RA is an autoimmune disease; both clearly dealing with inflammation that is harming the body. There is actually a lot of questions about whether or not inflammation is the cause of OA because inflammation is present, but officially it was classified as a noninflammatory arthritis.
As mentioned previously, autoimmune diseases are a very common inflammatory problem for people. From Hashimoto's, lupus, type 1 diabetes, MS (multiple sclerosis), Addison’s disease, Crohn's disease, Graves’ disease, celiac disease, and more, there are a lot more questions, than answers for medical professionals. Unfortunately, these diseases are on the rise and there are a lot of theories and some studies linking inflammation due to toxins, chemicals, and inflammatory substances that could be triggering the immune system to attack itself.
Bursitis is another common condition we help patients with in our clinic. Bursitis is a painful condition that develops when the bursae (small, fluid-filled sacs that cushions the bones, tendons and muscles near the joints) become inflamed. Usually, repetitive motions, or positions that pressure the bursae cause this inflammatory response. Simple things like scrubbing the floors, lifting weights, throwing a ball, gardening, playing an instrument and more could create this bursae pressure and lead to bursitis.
Tendonitis occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed. The tendon is a fibrous cord that attaches the muscle to bone. As you can imagine, when someone has tendonitis it is painful and tender. Typically, we see patients who have tennis/golfer's elbow, jumper’s knee, swimmer’s/pitcher's shoulder, and tendonitis of the wrist, or heels. It is possible for tendonitis to be caused by a sudden injury. More often than not, tendonitis is caused by a repetition of a specific movement over time.
How an anti-inflammatory diet can help you.
An anti-inflammatory diet can help anyone, no matter how severe, minor, or even nonexistent one’s symptoms might be. Simply feeling exhausted? Dealing with an inflammatory disease? Ha
ve an autoimmune disease? Going to PT for OA? Suffering from allergies? An anti- inflammatory diet can not only reduce inflammation, but feed the body the nutrients it needs to prevent further damage, and reduce symptoms. For people that are not health conscious eaters, these diet changes could be challenging. But, once a person gets going on an anti-inflammatory diet and personally experiences health improvements and sees symptoms start to dissipate it is hard to go back to an inflammatory diet.
Common foods that cause inflammation.
It is smart to avoid foods that are high in omega-6 fatty acids.
Vegetable and Seed Oils
Common anti-Inflammatory foods.
It is smart to focus on nutrient dense foods, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
The above listed anti-inflammatory foods and inflammatory foods are not limited to these lists. There are many other foods that fall under these categories and can easily be found online, or by speaking with your physician. It is also, important to note that not every person responds to every type of food the same. Obviously, someone with an allergy to say garlic, should avoid garlic. This is why elimination diets are incredibly helpful in determining what your body responds best and worst to.
If you are dealing with inflammation and in physical therapy, you can definitely try to speed up your healing process and improve your inflammation management by incorporating an anti-inflammatory diet. Weight management also, plays a role into your recovery and maintaining your health. An anti-inflammatory diet can definitely help in this regard as well. If you are struggling with aches, pains, an injury, inflammatory disease and physical hindrance, and want to see what physical therapy can do for you, please give us a call to schedule an appointment.