Cooling Inflammation

          There are over a hundred diseases that are caused by or involve inflammation. These include heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain types of cancer. The most common cancers all have one thing in common-inflammation. Research has shown that most precancerous and cancerous cells show signs of inflammation. There is also evidence that the longer inflammation is present, the higher the risk of getting an associated cancer. Researchers have also identified inflammation as a significant factor in the development of solid tumor malignancies. There are chronic inflammatory conditions that do not have an established cause, infections being ruled out.  This in turn suggests that the process of inflammation provides the prerequisite environment for the development of malignancy.

          While we now have the knowledge that inflammation is understood to be a lead player in many degenerative diseases which cut our lives short, we also have the knowledge to take preventative measures in order to avoid these miseries. First of all, we can have our CRP levels checked. CRP refers to the C-reactive protein which measures inflammation in the blood. If you smoke, have high blood pressure, are overweight, and don’t exercise, there is a good chance your CRP levels are high. In order to lower these levels, we must of course refrain from smoking, reduce stress in our lives, have a healthy exercise routine and follow an anti-inflammation diet.

          Diet, without question influences inflammation. The food choices we make can determine whether we are in a pro-inflammatory state or an anti-inflammatory one. Following an anti-inflammatory diet is simple. The principles include eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of wholesome foods, refraining from saturated fats, processed and refined foods, and eating lots of organic fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as one good source of omega-3 fatty acids each day.

          Omega-3 fatty acids not only decrease inflammation, but they also prevent irregular heartbeats, reduce plaque in artery walls, and decrease blood clotting, blood fats, and blood pressure. They also help reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. There are three omega-3 fatty acids-EPA, DHA, and ALA.  EPA and DHA are derived from marine mammals while ALA is derived from plant oils.  Foods containing ALA are flax oil, flaxseeds, walnuts, walnut oil, canola oil, soybean oil, omega-3 enriched eggs, Atlantic salmon, and sardines canned in oil. Foods with EPA are herring, salmon, mackerel, blue fin tuna, shark, and sea bass. Lastly, DHA is found in salmon, tuna, herring, bass, mackerel, sardines, shark, and omega-3 enriched eggs. 

          Water is also an essential component of reducing inflammation. Drink eight glasses of pure water a day. If you have trouble drinking water, try adding lemon or see if sparkling water with lime or lemon or even cucumber tastes better. 

            Moderate exercise will induce a powerful anti-inflammatory response while rejuvenating the body and relieving stress. Stress is a significant cause of inflammation.  When we are under significant stress, due to bodily injury, excess exercise, chronic disease, lack of sleep, or chronic anxiety, the body produces cortisol in an attempt to shut off the production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. Cortisol acts as an effective response to short-term stress. If however, the body has high levels of stress and inflammation on a long-term basis, cortisol levels will be chronically high too. High cortisol levels are linked to all kinds of stressors, including: prolonged exercise, excess caffeine in the diet, being overweight, low blood sugar form a low-carbohydrate diet, skipping meals, and stuffing yourself at meals. High cortisol levels will predispose you to a host of illnesses-including cancer. 

            Meditation is an excellent way to reduce cortisol levels. Actually any activity that allows you to focus on breathing techniques and alleviate the mind of troubling thoughts will have a positive effect.  Yoga, massage, biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation, exercise, gardening, sitting in a hot tub for twenty minutes-whatever allows you to shut off your mind and just be, will do a world of good in preventing and/or relieving chronic inflammation.


The best way to obtain all of your daily vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients is by eating fresh foods with lots of fruits and vegetables. The following supplements may be added to the diet to decrease inflammation:

Vitamin C, 200 milligrams a day

Vitamin E, 400 IU of natural mixed tocopherols

Selenium, 200 micrograms of an organic (yeast bound) form

Mixed carotenoids 10,000-15,000 IU daily

A daily multivitamin-multimineral supplement that provides at least 400 micrograms of folic acid and at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D. They should contain no iron and no preformed vitamin A. 

Calcium citrate. Women need 1,200-1,500 daily while men should get no more than 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. 

Fish oils-if you only take one supplement for your entire life, take this one, which inhibits the activity of the enzyme delta-5-desaturase that makes AA, arachidonic acid. It is the number one anti-inflammatory supplement you can take. 

Tumeric- the Indian spice contains curcumin, a phytochemical which inhibits the enzyme which makes ararachidonic acid. Turmeric can be used as often as you like in cooking, but taking a supplement will ensure greater inflammation relief. 

Ginger-contains phytochemicals called xanthines, which inhibit both the cyco-oxygenase (COX) enzymes, that make pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, and also the lipo-oxygenase (LOX) enzymes, which make pro-inflammatory leukotrienes. Use fresh ginger in cooking as much as possible or take a capsule.   

Aloe vera- Taking aloe orally will reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. Ingest one tablespoon of organic aloe daily. 

Add CoEnzyme Q-10-60 to 100 miligrams of a softgel form with a large meal. 

Sesame oil- is ripe with lignans which contain sesamin.  This is an inhibitor of the enzyme which makes AA, arachidonic acid.  Take 1-2 teaspoons a day. 

Alcohol- in moderation (one drink per day for women, two for men) reduces inflammation

Extra virgin olive oil- contains a phytochemical called hydroxytyrosol.  This compound appears to inhibit the enzymes that produce pro-inflammatory eicosanoids, just as aspirin does (without the negative side-effects).  Take 2-3 teaspoons a day.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chris
    May 17, 2010 @ 01:42:46

    Very helpful information. Thank you, Aimee!


  2. Sarah
    May 18, 2010 @ 02:11:12

    Thanks Aimee, love the article. I will be forwarding it on! I’m finding one of my biggest struggles to following this kind of diet are all the outside influences. Today, Jeremy and I are starting fresh. I went shopping over the weekend and we’re armed and ready to go!!!

    My family history is full of cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and obesity. I’d really like to get on the right track and prevent as much as I can. As well as teach my kiddos how to eat healthier! This is certainly a journey and I really appreciate your support! I love you and think you are doing great, inspirational work on your blog.

    I’ll let you know how it goes……


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