Can’t Stand the Heat? Get in Your Kitchen!

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Georgia Cancer SpecialistsInflammation is something we all experience from time to time on the surface of our body as redness, heat, swelling and pain. We cut our finger and it looks red and swollen. Short term inflammation is a good thing – it’s our body’s way of healing.

What we as healthcare professionals are more concerned about – and you should be too – is chronic inflammation that persists and is at the root of many chronic diseases.

What causes chronic inflammation?

Stress, lack of exercise, genetics, exposure to toxins (like secondhand tobacco smoke) and obesity can all contribute to chronic inflammation, but what you eat can play a big role as well.

The good news

Most recently, research has shown that patterns of what we eat and certain foods may help reduce inflammation in our bodies.

What does this mean for you? Whether you are fighting cancer, heart disease, arthritis, or even Alzheimer’s disease, changing your diet may help.

But where do I start?

Making big changes in our diet can be overwhelming. Trust me – I’ve been there. My eating habits since starting to work in cancer care over 10 years ago have morphed tremendously.

Knowledge is power, but it takes trial and error to discover healthy changes that you can live with for the rest of your life.

That being said, be realistic by making one change a week or even one change a month. Even a monthly change in your lifestyle will lead to 12 changes at the end of the year. How great would that feel?

Start with these 5 Strategies to Reduce Inflammation:

  1. Eat more plants. Include at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal. Aim to eventually eat five different fruits and/or vegetables every day. Think it’s too much? Try a smoothie for breakfast with Greek yogurt, skim milk, a banana and some frozen peaches (two servings). Eat a big salad with two cups of vegetables for lunch (two servings), and have grilled fish with two vegetables on the side for dinner (two servings). Voila! You just ate six servings.
  2. Ditch the sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that American women eat no more than 100 calories from added sugars per day, or about 25 grams (6 teaspoons). For men, it’s 150 calories per day, or 37 grams of added sugar (9 teaspoons). Read packaged food labels carefully to track your sugar intake. You’ll be surprised how quickly you reach this limit!
  3. Snack on nuts. Nuts – particularly walnuts that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that may help fight inflammation. Next time you reach for that 3 p.m. salty snack, consider nuts over crackers or chips.
  4. Spice it up. Spices contain essential oils that may have anti-inflammatory properties. Add turmeric or curry powder to dishes. Use more fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, and basil in cooking, and experiment with different spices for more flavor. Be sure your spices are still fragrant before using. If they’ve been in your spice rack for over a year, it may be time to refresh your supply.
  5. Add berries. Strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries all have anti-inflammatory properties. Mix berries into a smoothie, add berries to a cup of vanilla yogurt, or put them in a salad. You can’t go wrong with this versatile fruit!

Want more ideas? Give these recipes a whirl.

Cauliflower Gold

Strawberry Tostada

Image courtesy of stockimages /

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