Diet is an underappreciated factor in managing autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The foods you eat regularly can affect the amount of inflammation you have in your body. While some foods can dial down inflammation, other foods can exacerbate it.
At Valerius Medical Group & Research Center in Los Alamitos, California, board-certified rheumatology specialists Nathaniel Neal, MD, and Rebekah Neal-Kraal, MD, provide comprehensive care for inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and osteoarthritis.
When it comes to managing these disorders, diet often plays a key role. In this blog, our expert providers explain why inflammation occurs, how diet is involved, and how you can make changes to improve your health.
When the body detects an infection or injury, it recruits an army of white blood cells. This results in inflammation. If you suffer a cut, the region around it may become red or swollen as the wound heals. However, after the problem resolves, the inflammation normally subsides and your body returns to normal.
In autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, inflammation is ongoing. Chronic inflammation is bad for your health, because it can damage your body over time. And while making dietary changes won’t cure autoimmune or inflammatory disease, eating right can help reduce symptoms.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the United States, affecting more than 30 million adults. Symptoms include joint pain and stiffness. The good news is many people with this condition and other inflammatory and autoimmune diseases have been able to reduce their symptoms by making dietary changes.
One of the big culprits in increasing inflammation is saturated fat. Researchers have found that saturated fat can cause the immune system to malfunction, which, in turn, can trigger an inappropriate inflammatory response.
So a diet high in saturated fat could lead to chronic, low-grade inflammation and worsen your symptoms if you have an autoimmune or inflammatory disease. Furthermore, diets high in salt have been shown to stimulate different cytokines that cause inflammation. Other dietary components and factors that can contribute to inflammation include:
A diet high in sugar has also been shown to promote inflammation.
A balanced diet built around whole foods is a great place to start when it comes to improving your health and managing autoimmune and inflammatory symptoms. And while there isn’t one specific anti-inflammatory diet for everyone, the basic template involves eating plenty of the following:
The DASH diet and Mediterranean diet both fit this eating plan, and both diets have been shown to reduce inflammation. In fact, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce pain and slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
The key to improving your symptoms may be right inside your refrigerator! Our team at Valerius Medical Group & Research Center wants you to feel empowered in managing your condition. You can rely on our team of experts to provide you with the guidance and care you need to thrive. To learn more, call 562-294-6533 or book an appointment online today.