Saturday, 5 January 2013

Easing Inflammation

When it comes to staying healthy, your body is always in a tug-of-war with detriments like pollution, unhealthy foods, smoke, too much alcohol, excessive sunlight, and even the side effects of fighting infections and digesting high-fat meals. Exposure to these things causes cell damage and inflammation (the body’s response to this damage, such as tissue swelling, redness, and triggering of the immune system). Chronic inflammation, or inflammation that happens over and over again, can lead to problems in many areas of the body, such as the joints, the heart, the colon, and even the skin. 

Your body works hard to fight inflammation and cell damage. You can give your body an edge in this tug-of-war by eating superfoods rich in antioxidants and prostaglandins, which we discuss in the following sections.

The role of antioxidants

Antioxidants are natural substances, such as the compounds that give fruits and vegetables their colors, and vitamins like C and E, which fight cell damage. They work to fight inflammation by neutralizing free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can travel throughout the body trying to take particles from healthy cells — a process that creates more free radicals. Free radicals damage cells, causing inflammation and starting a chain reaction in tissues as more and more cells become affected.

Superfoods are packed with antioxidants that move through the body and stop the free radicals so they don’t damage healthy cells. Many of the superfoods that we discuss in this book have antioxidant properties. Here are some of the most powerful ones.

✓ Acai berries
✓ Blueberries
✓ Broccoli
✓ Cranberries
✓ Green tea
✓ Pomegranate
✓ Spinach 

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