Inflammation and cancer go hand in hand. An inflammatory diet can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But if you eat a plant-based diet, you can reduce your inflammation and cancer risk.
This blog post will teach you what inflammation is and why it's dangerous. Then you will discover why animal products can increase your inflammation. And finally, you will find out how to reduce inflammation with a plant-based diet.
The information is presented for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe treat or cure cancer.This information is not intended as medical advice, please refer to a qualified healthcare professional.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the immune system's natural response to injury and illness. There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic.
They have different causes, symptoms, and purposes. Acute inflammation often happens because of external injuries caused by accidents.
The acute inflammation process happens quickly and can be severe. Common signs of inflammation following an injury include:
- Swelling, bumps, or puffiness
- Pain and tenderness
- Warmth at the injury site
- Loss of mobility
Depending on the severity of the wound, acute inflammation can last anywhere from a few days to a few months. During an injury, white blood cells trigger the release of several inflammatory chemicals.
Some acute infections cause local inflammation. Most conditions caused by inflammation tend to end in "itis." Examples include:
- Acute bronchitis
- Acute appendicitis
- Infective meningitis
Acute inflammation is a natural response by the body to heal itself. The problem is when we develop chronic inflammation.
Chronic Inflammation Makes You Sick
Chronic inflammation can last for years or even an entire lifetime. It often begins when there is no injury or illness present. Chronic inflammation is one of several contributing factors to diseases.
The strongest link between chronic inflammation and illnesses is diabetes and heart issues. Other conditions associated with chronic inflammation include:
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- High cholesterol
- Various types of cancer
- Alzheimer's disease
- Fatty liver disease
Chronic inflammation often progresses with few symptoms. It is a significant threat to a large population. Researchers have identified several common causes of chronic systemic inflammation.
People who don't exercise enough have an increased risk of age-related diseases. An anti-inflammatory chemical process occurs in the bloodstream when your muscles move.
There are other ways we can produce inflammation.
Ways Our Bodies Become Inflamed
A deep layer of fat around the abdominal organs produces pro-inflammatory chemicals. Diets high in saturated fat, trans fat, and refined sugar cause increased inflammation, especially in overweight people. Smoking cigarettes lowers the production of anti-inflammatory molecules and increases inflammation.
Sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone suppress inflammation. Lower levels of these hormones increase the risk of inflammatory diseases. Psychological stress can also increase your inflammation.
People with irregular sleep have more inflammation markers than people with regular sleep. Inflammation, whether acute or chronic, can hurt. You may feel pain, stiffness, distress, and discomfort. The pain you feel depends on the severity of the inflammation.
Inflammation causes pain because swelling pushes on sensitive nerve endings. Inflammatory substances may also enter joints, causing irritation and swelling.
There are some ways we can measure inflammation. Let's look at them.
Tests For Inflammation
No single test can diagnose inflammation 100% or the conditions that cause it. They help give your healthcare provider clues on what's going on. Blood tests can look for specific biological markers that show inflammation is present.
One test your healthcare provider may request include C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a protein produced in the liver in response to inflammation. High levels of CRP are typical in people with chronic- and acute inflammation.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is another test identifying whether inflammation occurs. Other inflammation screening methods include:
- MRI with gadolinium enhancement
- FDG PET-CT
- Ultrasound with Power Doppler
- Nuclear imaging
PGE-M is a urinary biomarker of inflammation. It is a promising biomarker for predicting cancer. Researchers carried out a case-cohort analysis of U.S. women.
The women were between 35-74 years old and had a sister with breast cancer. At the time of enrollment, participants completed questionnaires on their lifetime exposures.
They also provided their first-morning urine sample. The study found that PGE-M was a promising biomarker for determining breast cancer risk. It was also an indicator of cancer-related risk factors such as saturated fat intake, obesity, smoking, and aging.
Animal products are one primary source of inflammation from the diet.
Animal Products Cause Most Inflammation
Animal products cause the most inflammation in our diet.
One study looked at the link between dietary patterns and inflammation. The paper said that most dietary inflammation was almost all meat-based.
Or it was part of the modern Western diet. The study also said that vegetable- and fruit-based diets decreased inflammation. In general, the more plant-based, the less inflammation.
The reason meat causes inflammation can be because of both the animal protein and the animal fat. In one study, 96 participants completed an eight-week randomized intervention trial.
The researchers evaluated the effects of vegetable and animal protein on inflammation. They found that animal protein caused higher levels of inflammation.
Obesity can increase inflammation and also cancer.
The Link Between Obesity And Cancer
Obesity is a risk factor for many cancers, including breast cancer. The reason obesity can increase the risk of many cancers can be because of inflammation. Inflammation can cause esophageal, gastric, hepatic, pancreatic, and colorectal cancer.
Overweight or obese women have an increased risk of developing and dying from breast cancer. Inflammation may activate an enzyme that allows breast tumors to create estrogen.
It does it via a compound called prostaglandin. Higher prostaglandin levels in women's urine correlate with breast cancer risk. This compound increases with smoking, a high-saturated fat diet, and obesity.
One thing that increases prostaglandin is arachidonic acid. Learn why you need to avoid it next.
Arachidonic Acid In You Diet Increases Inflammation
A major ingredient in animal fats is arachidonic acid. This acid creates prostaglandin. Prostaglandin and other inflammatory compounds can then stimulate breast cancer growth. They may play a role in colon, lung, and head and neck cancer.
In contrast, whole plant foods have anti-inflammatory effects. People who eat high-antioxidant fruits and vegetables are better at reducing inflammation.
For carnivores like cats, arachidonic acid is an essential nutrient. Since they eat animals, they get it from their diet, so they never need to make any.
Humans need some arachidonic acid. But we don't require it from our diet since our bodies make all we need. It's like cholesterol.
Our bodies need some cholesterol, so they make all we need. But there's no need to take in extra through our diet. Too much cholesterol is a bad thing. The same thing may be true with arachidonic acid.
So how do you reduce arachidonic acid intake? You can do that by avoiding ten food groups.
Top Inflammatory Foods You Need To Avoid
Ten different food groups contain more arachidonic acid(page 43) in the American diet. Chicken and eggs are the worst, followed by beef. Other things you should stay away from include:
- Cold cuts
- Mexican mixed dishes
A single meal high in animal fat elevates inflammation within our bodies. This process peaks at about four hours. You can measure the dilation of people's arteries and blood flow through ultrasound.
Within hours of eating animal fat, our arteries get paralyzed, and you cut their ability to open in half. The lining of our whole vascular tree gets inflamed, stiffened, and crippled from one meal!
Five or six hours later, we may eat a new load of meat, eggs, or dairy. This habit creates inflammatory diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. If we repeat this habit, this dangerous chronic inflammation cycle will persist for most of our lives.
The American diet also causes inflammation of our lungs. A single meal with animal fat causes internal damage right away, not just decades down the road.
It's possible to reduce inflammation by following a specific diet.
How To Stop Inflammation Through A Plant-based-Diet
If you want to stop inflammation in your body, you need to avoid animal products. Eat a whole-food low-fat, plant-based diet.
Consume whole starches, vegetables, and fruit. The diet must be low in fat of all kinds.
Dairy is the most troublesome food, causing the most common and severe reactions. Vegetable oils are strong suppressors of the immune system. Avoid all vegetable oils, including olive-, corn-, safflower-, and flaxseed oil. Corn and wheat can also aggravate symptoms.
Low-fat diets retard the development of inflammation. Fruits and vegetables supply antioxidants and other phytochemicals. They keep the joints strong and repair the damage.
Proper foods keep intestinal barriers strong. It also keeps the immune system in a fighting condition. Unhealthy foods and bad habits increase your problems. That means you need to avoid smoking, alcohol, and processed foods.
The real challenge is in changing lifelong behaviors.
Eat a whole-food, plant-based diet with starchy vegetables and little fat. Avoid oil and processed food, and you will decrease your inflammation.
Berries are excellent at reducing inflammation.
Berries Are Great At Reducing Inflammation
Berries have many health benefits and can help you reduce inflammation. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial found blueberry smoothies could reduce inflammation.
Scientists looked at white blood cells from subjects drinking placebo smoothies. These smoothies contained no blueberries.
Over time the participants got worse. But six weeks of daily blueberry smoothies eased the inflammation. Blueberry consumption was able to decrease free radicals in their bloodstream.
Free radicals are highly reactive and unstable molecules that are a byproduct of our metabolism. Exposure to toxins in the environment can also create them.
Free radicals in the body increase the risk of diseases. You can reduce it by eating food high in antioxidants, such as fruits, berries, or vegetables. For example, six weeks of blueberry smoothies cut free radicals by half.
Strawberries can improve pain and inflammation in osteoarthritis patients. In an osteoarthritis study, patients drank a pint and a half of strawberries a day for 12 weeks.
Subjects that drank strawberries had reductions in constant-, intermittent-, and total pain. Specific inflammatory markers plummeted on the strawberries. Berries reduce pain, inflammation and improve the quality of life in obese adults.
Eating berries, fruits, and vegetables is an excellent way to reduce inflammation. Consuming herbs is another one.
Herbs Are Anti-Inflammatory
Herbs and spices have some of the greatest antioxidant activities known. One study let each participant eat a half-teaspoon a day of various herbs.
They had different groups eating ten types of spices. At the end of the week, researchers drew blood from participants. The researchers then dripped the subjects' blood plasma into a petri dish.
The petri dish had an inflammatory substance called oxidized cholesterol. Tumor necrosis factor(TNF) is a potent inflammatory cytokine. Cytokines are small proteins essential in cell signaling.
Researchers measured how much TNF the subjects produced.
The group eating black pepper didn't lessen the inflammation. But cloves, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric did.
Inflammation is the immune system's natural response to injury and illness.
Acute inflammation often happens because of external injuries caused by accidents.
Chronic inflammation can last for years or even an entire lifetime.
Diets high in saturated fat, trans fat, and refined sugar cause increased inflammation, especially in overweight people.
No single test can diagnose inflammation 100% or the conditions that cause it.
Animal products cause the most inflammation in our diet.
Obesity is a risk factor for many cancers, including breast cancer.
Prostaglandin and other inflammatory compounds can stimulate breast cancer growth.
Ten different food groups contain more arachidonic acid in the American diet.
If you want to stop inflammation in your body, you need to avoid animal products.
Berries can help reduce free radicals in the body and inflammation.
Herbs and spices have some of the greatest antioxidant activities known.
How To Reduce Inflammation And Cancer
1. Avoid animal products and processed foods
2. Eat a low-fat whole-food plant-based diet
3. Consume berries and herbs
Inflammation and cancer go hand in hand. Both are signs of a toxic body caused by what you eat. To avoid inflammation, you should avoid all animal products, including dairy. You should also stop eating processed foods such as vegetable oils.
Eat a whole-food low-fat, plant-based diet to reduce inflammation from your diet. Berries and herbs can help you decrease it even more. They can lessen free radicals in your body and reduce inflammation.
Learn How To Reduce Inflammation With A Plant-Based Diet
Read our free nutrition guide to learn more about eating an anti-inflammatory plant-based diet.
Discover more about macro-and micronutrients and where to find them.
You will also learn how to get enough calories on a plant-based diet.
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