Inflammation and how to manage it

27 Sep
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Have you ever wondered if you have inflammation? Do you know what it is? Do you know about anti-inflammatory diets? I would like to share with you some medical articles and research-based information to clarify misunderstood conceptions about inflammation.

In medical terms, inflammation is the response of our immune system to common injuries, such as cuts or burns. The affected area becomes red, warm, and puffy, accompanied by an increased blood flow in the affected area, as well as production of body chemical products to cure the injury. 

However, too little inflammation that persists over time is thought to be the root of most chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, autoimmune disorders, and even clinical depression. Research has called this concept ‘The inflammation theory of disease,’ in which inflammation is the common underlying factor among the leading causes of death.

There are medical studies that measure too little inflammation or chronic, low-grade immune response. However, research shows that modifiable factors such as diet and behavior can activate the key to inflammatory pathways.

An anti-inflammatory diet may help control excessive oxidative stress, altered glucose, and lipid metabolism in fat (adipose) cells, muscle, and liver. Many studies have demonstrated that the Mediterranean Diet, a diet  that incorporates olive oil, fish, modest lean meat consumption, and abundant fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, shows more anti-inflammatory effects when compared to a typical American dietary pattern. 

Besides diet, exercise and avoiding stress are also important to avoid inflammation. Make time for 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise and 10 to 25 minutes of weight or resistance training at least four to five times per week. It is difficult to change many of the stressful situations we encounter in life; however, we can change the way we respond to it by learning how to manage stress better.

Reducing inflammation is important, and it will improve our health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Mediterranean Couscous Salad with Chickpeas

Grapes add sweetness to this easy, no-cook dish that works easily for a packed lunch to work or for dinner.

Recipe from the American Heart Association

4 Serving. Per serving: Calories 466, Protein 17g, Fiber 14g, Cost $3.03


1 3/4 cups water

1 cup whole-wheat couscous

2 medium cucumbers (cut into quarters)

1 1/2 cups green or purple grapes (halved)

3 green onions

15.5 oz. canned, low-sodium chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed

1/3 cup chopped, pit removed black or Kalamata olives

2 Tbsp. dried parsley OR 1/2 cup chopped, fresh parsley

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

4 Tbsp. reduced-fat feta cheese crumbles (divided)


Using the microwave or a teapot, bring 1 ¼ cups water to a boil. Add into a medium-sized heatproof container, along with couscous. Stir together and cover with a lid or very tightly with plastic wrap. Let couscous sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel cucumbers. Quarter each cucumber and then cut into 1-inch chunks. Add into a large bowl. If desired, halve the grapes or add them whole into the bowl. Chop the scallions, about ¼ cup, and add into the bowl.

When couscous is finished, use a fork to fluff it and then add into the bowl along with the olives, chickpeas, parsley, oil, and lemon juice. Use a large spoon or spatula to stir to combine. Serve, topping each portion with 1 tablespoon feta cheese.

Cooking Tip: When using naturally salty food like feta cheese and olives, you don’t need to add extra salt into a dish.

Keep it Healthy: Canned items, like beans and vegetables, should be drained and rinsed with water in a colander to remove some of the salt added during the canning process.

Tip: English cucumber can be substituted for 2 medium regular cucumbers—English cucumbers, however, are often more expensive so only substitute if they are on sale.

Article adapted from the article by Sarah Dimitratos “Inflammation: What Is It, and how can my diet and behavior affect it?” from the American Society for Nutrition website.

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