6 posts in the category “lupus”

From tomatoes to turmeric: Can foods fight inflammation?

Posted October 26th, 2017 by

Inflammation is a hot topic. What’s it all about? And what’s the scoop on certain diets, foods and supplements, such as turmeric, when it comes to fighting inflammation?

What is inflammation?

Not all inflammation is “bad.” Acute inflammation is part of the body’s natural way of defending itself from foreign substances like viruses, bacteria, cuts and splinters. It may cause redness, swelling, heat and/or pain. The upside is, these symptoms are a sign that the body is responding after an injury or infection by triggering white blood cells and disease-fighting chemicals.

But some “other” kinds of inflammation — like chronic inflammation (which may include constant low-grade or systemic inflammation) and inflammation from autoimmune disorders (where the body attacks its own healthy cells as if they’re foreign) — doesn’t always show visible or obvious symptoms and can play a more long-term and complex role, according to Mayo Clinic.

Which diseases or conditions does it affect?

Mounting research shows that inflammation is a common underlying factor (and possibly a cause) in many — perhaps even all — diseases.

You’ve probably heard about the role of inflammation in arthritis or heart health. But researchers and doctors have also studied inflammation’s link to a wide range of other diseases and conditions, including cancerdiabetesAlzheimer’s diseasemultiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease (PD), major depressive disorder (MDD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and ALS (note: in the case of ALS and some other conditions, researchers are still determining whether some inflammation may be protective rather than harmful, so more research is needed).

Over the past decade, scientists have also started to identify certain genes associated with inflammation, and research on that front continues.

What can food do?

Some people follow an “anti-inflammatory diet,” but the science behind these particular diets does not clearly support the theory that they thwart inflammation, and doctors advise being wary of the health claims they make.

That said, taking steps to maintain a healthy weight and eat a variety of foods with anti-inflammatory properties (rather than follow a certain “Diet” with a capital “D”) may benefit your health.

“Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The team at Harvard says these foods have anti-inflammatory properties:

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and collards
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines
  • Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries and oranges

On the flip side, they say, some foods promote inflammation — so try to avoid or limit these (hint: they’re already foods with a pretty bad rap):

  • Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • Margarine, shortening and lard

Talk with your doctor or a registered dietician about a healthy eating plan with your health condition(s) in mind.

What’s the deal with turmeric?

There’s currently a lot of buzz around turmeric and some other supplements believed to help fight inflammation. Turmeric, a plant related to ginger, is a common spice known for its gold color and use in curry powder.

On top of being used as spice, it can be taken as a supplement. The main anti-inflammatory ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is available as a supplement on its own (the content of curcumin in turmeric spice is only around 3%, so curcumin supplements may pack more of an anti-inflammatory punch). One study found that curcumin may have the same anti-inflammatory effects as NSAID pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofin, (Advil/Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).

Preliminary studies have shown promise for curcumin’s use in people with ulcerative colitismultiple myelomalupus and depression. However, there’s still a lack of conclusive research on the effects of turmeric or curcumin in people with many other conditions, so these supplements typically aren’t recommended as part of a treatment plan at this point. Additional studies on curcumin are currently underway for people with some forms of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, MS and PD.

Talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new vitamin, supplement or treatment.

What about other supplements?

Overall, the potential role of dietary supplements is “largely uncharted when it comes to carefully done clinical trials for safety and effectiveness,” according to Brent Bauer, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and effectiveness. Keeping that in mind, here are some other supplements with possible anti-inflammatory effects that researchers have studied to some extent, the Mayo Clinic says:

  • Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) — This could ease rheumatoid arthritis joint pain and osteoarthritis knee pain during activity, but more research is needed.
  • Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) — It’s commonly used in Europe and may be effective in the short-term treatment of osteoarthritic pain.
  • Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) — Made from the mangosteen fruit, this supplement may have anti-allergy, antibacterial, antifungal, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory qualities, but more research in humans is needed.
  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) — This may help improve organ function in people with cirrhosis, a chronic liver disease. It may also be helpful in treating chronic hepatitis. But more research is needed before it can be recommended.

“My best advice concerning chronic inflammation is to stay tuned,” says Dr. Bauer. “This is a huge area of interest in the medical world and there are bound to be discoveries down the road that can improve well-being and the quality of health.”

On PatientsLikeMe

Hundreds of patients report using turmeric for a wide variety of health reasons — see what they have to say. Join the community for even more details on the treatments patients have tried and to learn and share about nutrition with your condition.

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GF + DF recipe from LupusChick: Berry Bliss Smoothie Bowl

Posted August 24th, 2017 by

Our partner Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana, founder of LupusChick, blogs about healthy cooking and living with lupus and other chronic conditions. Check out this gluten-free, dairy-free recipe she wanted to share with the lupus community (or anyone who’d like to try it) before berry season winds down!

One of my favorite aspects about summer is seeing berries and dragon fruit line the shelves at my local grocer. Berries are incredibly versatile, landing in everything in my kitchen from galettes and pancakes to focaccia and of course, smoothies. But not every smoothie is meant to be consumed in a glass. Cue the smoothie bowl…

My berry bliss smoothie bowl is one of my top breakfast choices. Raspberries and pineapple deliver vitamin C and potassium, while almond milk, flax and collagen powder add necessary fiber and protein. Plus, the addition of coconut oil supplies the body with healthy fats in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (which are a terrific fuel and energy source).

I topped this smoothie bowl off with fresh dragon fruit and blueberries, but feel free to add toppings such as: sliced almonds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, yogurt or even edible flowers. No matter what combination you come up with, this smoothie bowl is sure to be as healthy as it is beautiful.

Enjoy!

XOXO Marisa, Founder of LupusChick

Photo courtesy of Marisa, LupusChick

BERRY BLISS SMOOTHIE BOWL (Gluten-free, dairy-free)

Start to finish: 10 minutes

Servings: 1 bowl

Ingredients

1 frozen banana

¾ cup fresh pineapple chunks

½ cup fresh raspberries

1 tsp. ground flax seeds

¼ cup almond or coconut milk

½ tsp. coconut oil

1 scoop collagen powder (I used Further Food brand)

Directions

Place the frozen banana, pineapple, raspberries, ground flax seeds, milk substitute and coconut oil into a high-power blender (such as a Ninja Professional Blender). Blend for 15 to 30 seconds or until smooth and creamy. Stir in collagen powder at the end. Collagen powder is extremely fine and dissolves completely with a quick stir by hand. Transfer into your bowl and decorate with toppings of your choice.

Tips for Your Berry Bliss Smoothie Bowl

  • If you prefer a thicker smoothie, add less milk substitute when blending.
  • Collagen powder, such as Further Food’s product, dissolves completely in any liquid and has no taste. If you prefer to use a heavier protein powder such as rice or hemp, add this to your blender instead of stirring in by hand.

On PatientsLikeMe

More than 27,000 members are sharing about their experiences with lupus. Join the community today to get more ideas like this for living better with your condition.

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