Have you been told that you have atrial fibrillation? How about sleep apnea? While those labels may fit your symptoms, in all likelihood, you have something that your doctor has not diagnosed. You might be suffering from inflammation.
More often than not, health care providers treat symptoms instead of the underlying cause. While certain treatments might temporarily relieve symptoms, they are often merely a bandaid. Underneath the bandaid is a festering sore that, without proper care, will eventually become unmanageable.
At first glance, atrial fibrillation appears to be a heart condition, and sleep apnea, a lung and airway disease. While it’s true that these diseases manifest themselves in those organs, they are intricately linked. Moreover, the underlying cause of both disorders is often the same. Therefore, it’s entirely possible to cure both diseases by treating the root cause: inflammation.
Food is the best cure for inflammation
The father of medicine, Hippocrates, is best known for saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Food is the best medicine to combat inflammation, with certain foods being more effective than others. Consuming the following nine foods is certain to bring down the heat in your body.
Remember: Always choose organic!
Fatty fish and seafood
Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for their inflammation-fighting ability. Fatty fish is packed with two critical omega-3s, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). According to studies, foods high in these two fatty acids lower inflammation, thus reducing the risk of heart disease and death.
While there are multiple ways that eating fish helps reduce inflammation, recent research finds that omega-3s reduce inflammation by increasing special molecule mediators (SPMs), whose job is to help white blood cells destroy bacteria and rid the body of dead cells.
Unfortunately, the human body can’t manufacture omega-3 fatty acids, so they must be obtained through the diet. While plants contain some omega-3s, those found in fish are already in an active form. Wild-caught herring, mackerel, salmon, and sardines contain the highest levels of omega-3s while having a relatively lower risk of carrying heavy metals such as mercury.
Try this: Making a fish dinner is a quick and easy way to incorporate fish into your diet. However, fish is more than a dinner meal. Consider adding smoked wild-caught salmon to your eggs for a hearty morning breakfast or making a delicious sardine salad for lunch.
The coconut tree, often called the tree of life, is a source of food, medicine, and shelter. Coconut oil, made by pressing coconut meat together, is one such part of this miraculous tree.
Research has demonstrated that coconut oil is one of the best foods to reduce inflammation naturally. For example, a 2010 study found that virgin coconut oil had a pronounced anti-inflammatory effect on chronic and acute inflammation. The same study found that coconut oil reduced pain and fever, which are signs of inflammation. A more recent study concluded that consuming coconut oil decreased inflammation markers and steadier blood glucose levels.
Some people are hesitant to add coconut oil to their diet, given its high saturated fat content. Thankfully, many recent studies have revealed that saturated fat is not the enemy it was once thought to be.
Try this: Coconut oil does well under high heat and therefore is an excellent oil to use when sautéing vegetables, meat, and fish. It’s also delicious when added to smoothies. But perhaps the best way to use raw, virgin coconut oil is to add it to your morning coffee for a delectable creamy texture and flavor.
Herbs and spices
Feeling sick often results in a trip to the pharmacy, but did you know that you already have a pharmacy right in your kitchen cabinet? That’s right! Herbs and spices are more than simple flavor enhancers. They are some of the very best anti-inflammatory products in the world.
Turmeric is the most widely-known anti-inflammatory spice. Curcumin, the polyphenol in turmeric that gives it its yellow color, is a known anti-inflammatory that works to increase the number of antioxidants that the body produces. A 2019 study found that curcumin worked as well as NSAIDs in relieving arthritis pain with fewer side effects.
Try this: Think about adding spices or fresh herbs to all dishes you are cooking, making scrambled eggs for breakfast? Add some fresh cilantro or parsley. Add spices and herbs to soups, stews, meats, and salads. Spices can also be a great addition to drinks! Have you ever tried a turmeric latte? Basil, mint, and cinnamon are also great additions to smoothies.
There is so much to love about avocados, and now you can add anti-inflammatory benefits to the list.
Avocados contain high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids, mainly oleic acid, which research shows have anti-inflammatory properties. For example, a 2013 study found that adding avocado slices to a hamburger significantly reduced inflammation markers. Additionally, a recent study found promise in using avocado seed as an anti-inflammatory food or medication.
Try this: Guacamole is the most obvious avocado pleasure. However, there are many ways to enjoy this anti-inflammatory delight. Adding avocado to a smoothie renders a delicious creamy texture. Avocado pudding is a wonderful way to satisfy a sweet tooth. And, of course, avocado oil is an excellent addition to salads and marinades.
Nuts and seeds
A quick glance at the nutrition facts around nuts and seeds reveals that, with few exceptions, most contain much more omega-6 fatty acids than they do omega-3s. Since the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is already too high in our modern diet, shouldn’t nuts be unhealthy? The quick answer is no. Nuts are incredibly beneficial when it comes to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Nuts and seeds contain numerous health-promoting nutrients that contribute to lower inflammation. These mono-unsaturated fatty acids are packed with vitamin E, vitamin B6, and many other vitamins and antioxidants known to reduce inflammation. Studies have found those who regularly consume nuts and seeds have lower inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein.
Walnuts are the true anti-inflammatory rockstars, with almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and pistachios following closely. Chia, flax, and sesame seeds are also excellent. Although technically a legume, peanuts should be avoided.
Try this: Snacking on nuts or seeds is a fine way to incorporate more healthy anti-inflammatory foods into your diet. However, you can also sneak them in by sprinkling them on salads, making a chia seed pudding, or adding them to smoothies.
Garlic and onions
While you may not want to start this trend right before a date, garlic and onions are excellent additions to your anti-inflammatory diet. Both members of the Allium family, these foods have been shown to protect against cancer, heart disease, and inflammation.
In a 2021 review, scientists concluded that onion consumption is equally effective at treating inflammatory disorders at lower costs with limited side effects compared to chemical drugs. In addition, multiple studies have demonstrated that garlic may be one of the most potent anti-inflammatory foods available to humans.
Try this: Adding more garlic and onions to your diet should be easy. Add mashed garlic to avocado for great guacamole. Alternatively, try your hand at garlic or onion soup. Garlic is also an incredible addition to most homemade salad dressings.
Green leafy vegetables
We all remember our parents telling us “eat your spinach” to grow strong and healthy. Turns out they were on to something.
Green leafy vegetables, specifically dark leafy greens, are packed with vitamins and nutrients that help reduce inflammation in the body. A recent study found that diets rich in leafy greens are associated with lower levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP). Individuals who followed a diet rich in spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, and bok choy saw their C-reactive protein level plummet from 7 before the diet to 1.75 in only a half-year.
Try this: Getting enough dark leafy greens into our diets can be challenging. While you should always sautee up a few or eat them in salads, many people find it easier to juice them or add a handful to smoothies. Adding them to a burrito bowl, or making pesto are other great options.
You might be surprised to see eggs on a list of anti-inflammatory foods. After all, some nutritionists tell people to steer clear of eggs on an anti-inflammatory diet.
Some studies suggest that eggs increase inflammation, while others suggest they lower inflammation. However, very few studies distinguish between healthy pasture-raised eggs and conventional eggs. Hens that produce pasture-raised eggs have regular access to large outdoor spaces, grazing on bugs, grass, and other healthy vegetation. Eggs from pasture-range hens are higher in vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, choline, and omega 3’s.
Try this: Scrambled, fried, or hard-boiled eggs are delicious. However, if eggs aren’t your thing, there are many egg-cellent ways to incorporate them into your diet. For example, you can sneakily blend them into a salad dressing or homemade mayonnaise. You can also hide them in muffins or other baked goods.
Berries have been widely studied for their antioxidant properties, with hundreds of studies revealing that they are incredible inflammation-fighters. Bountiful in anthocyanins, an antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory properties, berries top the list of foods you should add to your diet to reduce inflammation. Studies show that blueberries increase natural killer cells, thus lowering inflammation. Research also shows promise in using blackberries to reduce obesity-induced inflammation.
Try this: Berries may be small, but they pack a nutritional punch. You don’t need many to get the inflammation-reducing benefits. Eat them raw, add them to a smoothie, or jazz up your water with organic, local berries. Remember, berries should be an occasional treat!
We have things so mixed up in conventional medicine. You have a headache: take an aspirin. You have sleep apnea: use this CPAP machine. You have AFib: take this pill. We rarely ask the “why.”
While there are times that medications and interventions are appropriate, they often fail to address the root cause of the symptoms in the first place. The true key to health is getting to the root of the problem. Fill out an application to work with one of the practitioners here at Natural Heart Doctor. We can help you live your best life by unlocking your body’s natural healing capabilities and targeting the inflammatory response.
Eat Well, Live Well, Think Well
Medical Review: Dr. Lauren Lattanza 2022