by: Lisa Garber
July 18, 2012
Glancing through the channels of news media and pharmaceutical ads, the overriding impression we have about health is that cancer, dementia, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes are things that simply happen to us. We are simply genetically pre-programmed to get sick at some point past age 40, but this just isn’t true. While genes may play a role in our health quality, many experts agree that chronic inflammation causes virtually all leading diseases due to a poor diet and lack of exercise.
Inflammation in the Body
When we experience an injury, our bodies’ natural response is inflammation. Wendy Weber, a program director at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, explains: “You need to have inflammation when you have a wound and the immune system goes in to heal it. Yet we don’t want too much inflammation in our system causing damage to our arteries” and the body.
Cat scratches swell on our arms because our bodies are fighting bacteria. Our glands swell when we’re experiencing allergies or a sniffle because it’s fighting irritants or infection. The problem is when the irritants and infection don’t go away—smoking, excess fat in the diet, lack of detoxification of the body through sweat and exercise.
Reducing Inflammation and Risk of Disease
“We’ve learned that abdominal fat tissue is a hotbed of inflammation that pours out all kinds of inflammatory molecules,” says Dr. Peter Libby of Harvard Medical School. Losing excess weight lowers levels of C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation. This can be achieved in a matter of weeks.
Another Harvard medical professor, Christopher Cannon, advocates an anti-inflammatory diet—high in whole grains, unsaturated fats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, poultry, eggs, and some dairy.
As The Daily Show faithfuls will remember, Dr. David B. Agus touted other ways to reduce inflammation earlier this year with his book, The End of Illness. They include:
- Avoiding vitamins and supplements and obtaining nutrients from whole foods wherever possible.
- Exercising regularly and moving during the day.
- Attaining a lean body mass.
- Minimizing use of tobacco products.
- Avoiding sources of inflammation (including foods like butter, sugar, red meats, and white foods like pasta and rice).
We’ve already celebrated how turmeric is fantastic at preventing chronic disease and reducing inflammation. In numerous studies, researchers have attributed turmeric with preventing Alzheimer’s, slowing the spread of breast cancer into lungs, and reducing pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis patients. Turmeric even exhibits cancer-blocking properties according to a UCLA study – allowing many individuals to realize that beating cancer with nutrition is indeed possible.
To harness the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric, try:
- Brewing turmeric tea.
- Sprinkling turmeric over deviled eggs, egg salad, or over grilled meat.
- Add turmeric to almost any lentil or cauliflower recipe.
- Mix turmeric into party dips and serve with raw vegetables.
- Try this healthy smoothie: blend or juice half an apple, a teaspoon of local honey, and ¼ teaspoon of turmeric with milk or an unsweetened alternative.
- Or, purchase a high quality organic turmeric supplement.