I stubbed my little toe. Hard. Heavy, stationery objects are not meant to be accidently kicked when you are wearing sandals. Not to worry, though. As soon as I noticed the baby toe was pointed west instead of north, I pushed it quickly back into position, with hardly a thought. Clearly, aerobic-cleaning my daughter's new place is not my sport. Today, my toe is swollen, hot and changing from red to purple & black. Not fun.
Swelling of a baby toe or any body part can be a good thing. The inflammation brings healing fluids filled with infection fighters, including white blood cells. As the healing progresses, inflammation goes down. My toe will eventually fit into a shoe and look normal again. It's temporary, or acute inflammation.
The type of inflammation that's making the news lately is chronic, or a type that is inside the body and won't simply reduce or go away over time. Researchers have considered the fact that obesity has reached epidemic levels in the United States and that two-thirds of all Americans are now overweight or obese and the similar rise in type-2 diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, and metabolic syndrome. Some researchers theorize that obesity causes low grade inflammation that in turn triggers the development of disease, along with other causes such as injury, illness, stress, lack of sleep, trans- and saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates.
Anti-inflammatory medications help reduce swelling caused by both acute and chronic inflammation. The current question is: Can some foods also reduce inflammation? Amazon lists 7 books about Anti-Inflammatory Diets that say they do! The jury's not in yet. So far, the research looks encouraging though much more scientific evidence is needed to prove their usefulness.
The Anti-Inflammatory Diets seem to mimic the Mediterranean Diet: whole grains, dried beans, peas, legumes, fruits, vegetables, fatty fish (salmon, herring, trout, anchovies, sardines,) flaxseed, walnuts, olives, olive oil, nuts, canola oil, soy, tea (green & black), soy, red wine, dark chocolate and many herbs ands spices (cinnamon, garlic, ginger, tumeric, red pepper/cayenne, curry, rosemary, basil, oregano, paprika, and chili peppers.) The anti-inflammatory diets recommend focusing on eating plenty of these foods, but also require minimizing refined carbohydrates, added sugars and processed foods. Great advice here.
Until all the research is in, should we consider following the anti-inflammatory diet suggestions? Whether or not science proves a link between eating these foods and lowering chronic inflammation, most of these foods are nutritional powerhouses. Eating nine or more servings of fruits and veggies everyday as some of the plans suggest would supply a wonderful sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. And minimizing refined carbs, sugars, and processed foods should be part of any healthy lifestyle change, including weight loss.
I try to focus on eating all of these Anti-Infammatory foods, and minimize processed foods. Eating this way didn't prevent the acute inflammation of my toe, nor should it for healing purposes. I guess it's possible the swelling is going down faster than if I was on a Twinkie diet. While I can't guarantee that eating this way will prevent you from ever developing metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, cardio-vascular disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, or auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease...it certainly can't hurt!!