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HeadWay, Issue #147 -- The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
October 21, 2016

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In this issue:

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Say what?! Inflammation

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The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Most people are aware that inflammation plays a huge role in headache disorders. But actually, inflammation is being studied in relation to many other disorders as well, such as cardiovascular diseases, depression, and diabetes.

Inflammation and immunity are related, since inflammation is used to stop foreign attackers in the body. But this is not a simple matter of this food causes inflammation in this way and so leads to this disease. There's actually a complex web of cause and effect that we don't have time to get into here. For now, just remember that there are a variety of reasons why a certain food could promote inflammation and related problems, or not.

And while a lot of research tells us that various foods and "ingredients" in those foods may lead to inflammation, it's very hard to study a diet as a whole. So although you'll read online about certain diets being "anti-inflammatory diets", it's hard to nail down exactly what foods are best for what people in what situation.

That being said, there are some well-studied foods that may help keep away that achy feeling, that joint pain, or that headache, based on their anti-inflammatory properties. And, as you'll see, many, many popular diets have a highly anti-inflammatory component. Coincidence?

So what should I eat?

Most migraine and headache diets will remind you to try to avoid processed foods. Canned stews, soup in a cup, sauce mixes, refined flours and sugars - additives and "bad fats" are wise to avoid as much as possible.

Good foods? Interestingly enough, we're back on a topic we covered last time - fish (as a source of vitamin D). Fish are the animal super-stars of fighting inflammation. Salmon, tuna, and other fresh-water fish two or three times a week will give you several types of vitamin B, plus vitamin D.

Next, think green. Cooked, raw, in a smoothie (hmmmm... we talked about this recently too - see Juices and Smoothies - Headache Fighters?, however you want to do it, you probably need more. Start with leafy greens, like spinach, kale, and swiss chard. Next, move on to other green veggies, such as broccoli and celery.

While you're at it, grab an avocado and make some guacamole. It's green too, so that will help you remember. Don't be afraid to throw in some tomatoes.

Time for dessert? Start with blueberries, and add some strawberries for variety. A nice fresh pineapple would be great too. But remember, don't overdo it on any one thing - go with variety.

Certain spices are excellent as well, such as turmeric and ginger. We've talked about ginger many times as a migraine-symptom-fighter (see Easy ways to get Nausea-Fighting Ginger). But watch out for "spices" in processed food - a vague ingredient on the list that often hides chemicals that you'll want to avoid.

Small changes can make a big difference. For most people, increasing the percentage of fruits and vegetables while decreasing processed foods is going to make a difference.

For more research, and if you are ready to go more hard-core, check out these resources:

Say what?! Inflammation

But wait - what actually is inflammation? Inflammation is an immune response of the body, which leads to the redness, heat, and swelling that we're familiar with (when we can see the inflammation). These symptoms are important. For example, the "swelling" of a blood vessel allows more blood to get to the location, thus helping with the healing process.

Sometimes, however, the body starts fighting against healthy cells. This can lead to chronic problems.

Did you know? Many diseases that cause inflammation end with "itis"!

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