Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dietary Advice to Reduce Inflammation

Consider these startling statistics;

70 million Americans are afflicted with arthritis. That number has doubled in just 20 years ago.

64 million Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease.

50 million Americans suffer from allergies. That number has also doubled in 20 years.

10% of American children have allergic dermatitis.

20 million Americans have asthma.

18.2 million Americans had diabetes in 2002, almost a 50% increase in just 10 years.

According to Dr. Floyd H. Chilton, author of a book titled Win The War Within, the principle cause of these debilitating diseases is diet-related inflammation. Dr. Chiton, a professor in the Dept of Physiology and Pharmacology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, also raises suspicions that Alzheimer’s disease and even cancer might be related to inflammation within the body.

In his book, Chilton describes in detail how overproduction of an omega-6 fatty acid called arachidonic acid (AA) is the root of the problem and offers his own Chilton Program as a solution. He cites clinical trials as evidence supporting claims that his diet dramatically reduces “inflammatory messengers” in the body.

Using data from US Dept of Agriculture, Chilton created the Inflammatory Index that ranks commonly eaten foods. He also divides fish, a key component of his program, into categories including best choices, good choices, neutral, and choices you should stay away from.

A summary of his Prevention Prescription for people with moderate risk of overactive inflammation is as follows:

- Eat foods containing no more than a total of 150 on the Inflammatory Index.
- Eat an average of 200 mg of EPA a day. That is 3 servings of Category I or II fish per week, or 4 servings of Category 3 fish per week.
- Take an average of 450-550 mg of gammalinolenic acid (GLA) a day in supplement form.
- DO NOT take GLA without having Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) either in fish or a supplement.
- Choose carbohydrates with a low-to-moderate Glycemic Index value.

So which foods should we avoid? High on the list of foods that increase AA levels are organ meats, some farmed fish, especially farmed salmon, egg yolks, and some poultry products, especially turkey.

High insulin levels promote inflammation, so Chilton recommends limiting intake of carbohydrates that rank high on the glycemic index such as white bread, cereals, instant oatmeal, cookies, cakes, instant rice, corn chips, popcorn, ice cream, jams and jellies, potatoes, turnits, honey, sugar, maple syrup, and some fruits like dates, raisins, canned in syrup, and tropical fresh fruits like kiwi, mango, papaya, watermelon, and pineapple.

What should we eat? The best types of fish include herring, mackerel, and wild sockeye or chino salmon. Pink or coho wild salmon, halibut, shrimp, oysters, and white canned tuna are classified as good. Lentils and kidney beans, most fruits, non-starchy vegetables, nuts, whole wheat pasta, and milk all rank low on the glycemic index and should be eaten often. Surprisingly, lean beef ranks low on the Inflammatory Index and can be used as an alternative to fish as an occasional source of protein.

(c) Dave Elger, 2007 All rights reserved

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