If you suffer from chronic inflammation, you might be able to adjust your diet to control or prevent it.
Inflammation, which has been linked to a variety of serious illnesses, is yet another reason to eat the oily fish, dark leafy greens, walnuts, blueberries and sweet potatoes frequently recommended by health experts.
All are anti-inflammatory foods and many of them are rich in antioxidants, which can also help prevent disease, said Karen Lamphere, a certified nutritionist.
Though inflammation is a natural process in the body, it can be destructive if it becomes chronic, said Lamphere, who owns Whole Health Nutrition, a private practice in Edmonds.
Acute inflammation, such as redness that appears around a wound, helps the body heal. It’s a good thing.
“Chronic inflammation is not,” Lamphere said. “That is a low-lying, constant inflammation in the body.”
It can be present in different areas of the body with or without symptoms.
Research has connected chronic inflammation to allergies, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and skin conditions such as eczema,
“Diet has a lot to do with it,” Lamphere said.
In her classes, Lamphere will help participants learn which foods can aggravate inflammation and which fight it.
She won’t lecture, however. Instead, she’ll share information and demonstrate how to cook quick and easy recipes.
Students will sample four dishes, including wild salmon with curried greens, edamame-basil dip (an alternative to hummus), roasted winter vegetables with balsamic drizzle and baked cinnamon-maple apples with almond-butter filling.
Salmon, especially wild salmon, contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can help decrease inflammation and help fight heart disease, Lamphere said. “Omega-3 fats are the most anti-inflammatory fat,” she said. “The problem is we don’t get much of it in our diet. If you’re not going to eat fish two to three times a week, you can take fish oil supplements.”
Turmeric, a neon-yellow spice found in many curry powders, also has anti-inflammatory effects, Lamphere said.
Kale, a leafy green that can be used in the salmon recipe, contains easy-to-absorb calcium and magnesium, plus antioxidants.
Anti-inflammatory dieting isn’t just about consuming superfoods, such as almonds, flaxseed and green tea, though all three are considered anti-inflammatory, Lamphere said.
It’s also about cutting back on foods that aggravate inflammation such as heavily refined sugars and oils.
When consumed in large amounts, refined vegetable oils such as sunflower, soybean and corn oils that contain omega-6 fatty acids can exacerbate inflammation throughout the body, Lamphere said.
Though people need omega-6 fats to function, most get way too much of it from cookies and other packaged snacks. “It’s not only what you include; it’s what you exclude,” she said.
Sugar-rich food isn’t good for inflammation, either, Lamphere said. “It elevates your insulin and your glucose and that contributes to inflammation,” she said.
Lamphere also recommends eating meat from grass-fed animals and eggs from pastured chickens, which typically contain higher levels of omega-3s than their grain-fed counterparts.
She also tells people who are fighting inflammation to consume dairy and wheat or gluten-rich products in moderation.
Lamphere isn’t the only one espousing an anti-inflammation gospel.
In recent years, anti-inflammation diet books have multiplied, including “The Anti-Inflammation Zone: Reversing the Silent Epidemic That’s Destroying Our Health” by “The Zone” author Barry Sears, and “The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan” by Monica Reinagel, who created an “IF” rating system for more than 1,500 foods.
Nutritionist Jack Challem claims in his book, “The Inflammation Syndrome,” that every disease process is either caused by or strongly influenced by inflammation.
Though research on the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory diets is still developing, Lamphere and many other nutritionists believe eating foods rich in healthful fats, and plants full of vitamins and nutrients, is good for better overall health no matter how you slice it.
“It’s a healthy diet for everyone,” Lamphere said.
Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037, email@example.com.
Take a class
What: In “Cooling Inflammation with Food,” certified nutritionist Karen Lamphere with Whole Health Nutrition of Edmonds will show how to minimize or reverse chronic inflammation through simple dietary changes, cooking techniques and lifestyle adjustments.
When, where, how: 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 23 at J. Matheson Kitchen &Gourmet in Everett (call 425-258-4589 to register); and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at Evergreen Middle School in Everett (see tinyurl.com/inflammationclass to sign up).
Cost: $20 plus a $10 supply fee at the Evergreen Middle School session and $27.50 at the J. Matheson session.
Books: Lamphere will sell recipe booklets “Real Food, Real Fast” and “Cooling Inflammation With Food” for $10 each.
Information: See Lamphere’s full roster of classes, including “Taming Your Sugar Beast,” at www.whole foodsnutrition.com or call 425-218-2310.
Pan-steamed salmon with curried greens
45-ounce wild salmon fillets
2 1/2;teaspoons curry powder
2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1small onion, minced
4cloves garlic, minced
1tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2;cup vegetable stock
1/2;cup coconut milk
1-2teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch, dissolved in water
1bunch kale or other dark leafy green, washed and chopped
1lemon, zest and juice
Salt and red pepper flakes to taste
2tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Sprinkle the salmon with 1 teaspoon curry powder. Steam the salmon in 1 tablespoon of oil over low heat in a skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Turn the fish several times. Reduce the heat if the fish sizzles or browns. After seven to 10 minutes, move the fish to a plate and cover loosely to keep warm.
Cook the onion, carrots, garlic and ginger in the same skillet with the remaining oil until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining curry powder. Add the stock and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and thicken with the arrowroot dissolved in water. Add the greens and cook until wilted. Add the honey and lemon. Adjust the seasoning with salt and red pepper flakes.
Arrange on a deep platter and top with the salmon. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
Serve with quinoa or brown basmati rice and your favorite chutney. For a vegetarian dish, substitute chickpeas for the fish.
Karen Lamphere, Whole Health Nutrition