Plant-based, Paleo, probiotics, prebiotics, antibiotics, GMO, gluten-free, organic, all-natural, cleanses, detoxification, supplement, don’t supplement. Pretty confusing right? What is truly healthy and what is not? What is missing in the healthcare system that can treat your pain safely and effectively? Weekly articles explore trending topics, dig into the science, and debunk myths while giving you a sustainable approach to eliminate pain and improve your long-term health, function and vitality.
By: Jonathan Tait, D.O.
The other day I introduced the topic of what food groups, eaten by most people on a daily basis, cause the most inflammation.
So what was #1 inflammatory food substance ?
Refined sugar of any type is highly inflammatory. Doesn’t matter if it is sugar in the raw, pure cane sugar, agave, or the powdered variety dusted across your pancakes.
So, what is the #2 component in food that increases inflammation in the body?
Now, we can debate the “good fats” such as coconut oil, butter from grass fed cows, red palm oil, olive oil, nuts
On the other hand, there should be no debate about the “bad fats” – all vegetable oils – canola, safflower, sunflower, vegetable, etc.
But what about those healthy omega-3 or -6 fatty acids? Good question.
Let’s take a look at whether those are healthy or hurting.
Essential fatty acid make up
the average American diet is about 20-30:1 omega-6 to omega-3, and ideally the ratio should be 1:1, or no more than 4:1, for optimal health. 1,2,3 It is easy to see from that scenario, that overconsumption of omega-6 fatty acids can be pro-inflammatory.
Supplementation with fish, krill, or flaxseed oil is probably necessary for most people to establish a better balance of omega-3 in the diet and shift the body back towards an anti-inflammatory state.
Also, an omega-6, gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) obtained from healthy plant sources (borage oil, black currant oil, evening primrose, or hemp) breaks down to become inflammation neutral, and will offset high arachidonic acid levels from bad omega-6 sources.
Antioxidant profile – The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) unit or “ORAC score”, developed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
is a method of measuring the antioxidant capacity of different foods and supplements.4 It is believed that foods with a higher ORAC value offset free radical damage, and are therefore theorized to minimize some aspect of age-related changes within the body, including joint tissue.
In the The Pain Free Diet supplement, we outline the most potent anti-inflammatory herbs and spices that you should be incorporating into your meals on a regular basis. I also give you some “prescription” tea recipes to combat the fatigue, sore muscles and joints that come with hard-training.
For a strategic approach to determine what foods may be promoting systemic inflammation, decreasing your performance, and limiting your recovery, and to learn one class of healthy fruits and vegetables that can increase inflammation in 1 out of 3 people, check out my next article.
1. Kashiyama T et al. Relationship between coronary plaque vulnerability and serum n-3/n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio. Circ J. 2011; 75:2432-2438.
2. Simopoulus AP. The importance of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Exp Biol Med. 2008; 233:674-688.
3. Sierra S, et al. Dietary fish oil n-3 fatty acids increase regulatory cytokine production and exert anti-inflammatory effects in two murine models of inflammation. Lipids. 2006; 41:1115-1125.
4. USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods.
Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); 2010.