Please don’t be obstinate about changing foods in your diet in order to improve your health. Why the plea? Well, my mother stubbornly sticks to unhealthy eating and sleeping habits, then wonders why she doesn’t feel really good. My father was the same way! It drives me nuts! Yes, “I’m telling” on my mother! Since she won’t listen to me, I thought I would try to help you instead.
The Nitty Gritty Of Inflammation
If you have broken a bone or sprained an ankle, inflammation isn’t a stranger. After those injuries occur, there is usually a whole bunch of swelling because the body immediately starts trying to repair the damage with the release of chemicals into the blood or the tissue that has been hurt. The chemicals increase the blood flow to the hurt tissue and that is why it often turns red and gets very warm to the touch. The chemicals that have been released also leak fluid to the hurt tissue which is why the area swells. All that swelling messes with the nerves and then there is pain too.
Inflammation can occur in more ways that are less apparent than a huge sprained ankle and some are life threatening. The following are some of the problems that are linked with inflammation in the body:
- Heart disease
- Myocarditis (Inflammation of the heart)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Bronchiolitis (Inflammation of the small tubes that transport air to the lungs)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Nephritis (Inflammation of the kidneys)
- Acne vulgaris (cystic acne or simple acne)
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
- Celiac disease (digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten)
- Polymyositis (Inflammation of the muscles)
- Transplant rejection
- Chronic prostatitis (chronic pelvic pain syndrome)
- Periodontitis (inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth)
- Fibromyalgia (long-term, body-wide pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues)
- Prostate disease
- Vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels)
- Iritis or Uveitis (Inflammation of the eye )
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (inflammation of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or ovaries)
Extended inflammation, also known as chronic inflammation, is destructive to the body. This long term inflammation is the cause of muscle loss that occurs with aging. In chronic inflammation, the body turns on itself and damages good tissue because the body becomes confused as to what is abnormal and what is good. Confused cells are not a good thing!
Long term inflammation can also cause havoc by depositing proteins in the organs and tissues. Too many proteins can lead to problems such as multiple myeloma which is a cancer of plasma cells – a type of white blood cell that is normally responsible for producing antibodies. White blood cells are the good cells that fight the bad stuff. See the catch 22 here?
Feeling like you are in health or science class yet? If so, that’s okay! If you can understand this aspect of YOUR body, you can IMPROVE your health SHORT and LONG TERM. I promise that this post will not be boring.
IF (Inflammation Factor) Rating
The IF Rating is the Inflammation Factor Rating. The IF Rating is a measurement of the inflammatory or anti-inflammatory effects of food on the body. Chronic inflammation is not good and there are some foods that can help reduce inflammation. So if you eat foods that help reduce inflammation, you will improve your health. It is like a permission slip to eat!!! Yay!
The IF Rating was created by Monica Reinagel and was introduced in 2006 in her book, The Inflammation Free Diet Plan. Monica states that:
“Foods with IF Ratings between 1 and 100 are considered to have mild anti-inflammatory effects. Ratings between 101 and 500 indicate increasingly potent anti-inflammatory actions. Foods that have ratings over 500 are strongly anti-inflammatory.”
“On the other end of the scale, foods that have ratings between -1 and -100 are mildly inflammatory. Foods with ratings between -101 and -500 are increasingly inflammatory, and those with ratings of -500 and lower are considered high inflammatory.”
The Inflammation Free Diet Plan book has sample meal plans and recipes using the IF rating system. There are also tables of IF ratings for 1,500 foods.
Using a formula based on 20 variables, each food has been given a IF rating. Interested in comparing some IF ratings?
IF Rated Foods
I will make a public confession that I love food and everything to do with food. There is nothing more pleasurable than playing with food and eating it. Well, there’s almost nothing more pleasurable than food, but food is way up there at the top of the list. However, I want to be healthy, so I’m always looking for ways to improve my eating habits.
Let me show you the IF ratings of several foods. I’ve listed the foods in a 200 calorie serving from good to not very good for your health in terms of reducing inflammation in the body. The food at the top of the list will reduce inflammation and the foods at the bottom of the list will cause inflammation.
Reduce Inflammation (most to least)
- IF Rating: 60860 Pepper, serrano, raw
IF Rating: 43611 Sauce, ready-to-serve, pepper, TABASCO
IF Rating: 18790 Spices, garlic powder
IF Rating: 15889 Spices, ginger, ground
IF Rating: 14079 Ginger root, raw
IF Rating: 12745 Spices, turmeric, ground
IF Rating: 2521 Chives, raw
IF Rating: 2252 Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt
IF Rating: 2000 Turnip greens, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt
IF Rating: 1901 Onions, spring or scallions (includes tops and bulb), raw
IF Rating: 1882 Lettuce, cos or romaine, raw
IF Rating: 1534 Collards, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt
IF Rating: 1490 Basil, fresh
IF Rating: 1453 Coriander (cilantro) leaves, raw
IF Rating: 1210 Fish, salmon, coho (silver), raw (Alaska Native)
IF Rating: 965 Carrots, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
IF Rating: 690 Asparagus, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
IF Rating: 634 Fish, tuna, white, canned in water, drained solids
IF Rating: 600 Vegetables, mixed (corn, lima beans, peas, green beans, carrots) canned, no salt added
IF Rating: 453 Broccoli, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt
IF Rating: 420 Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin, without salt
IF Rating: 340 Spices, parsley, dried
IF Rating: 316 Brussels sprouts, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt
IF Rating: 290 Spices, thyme, dried
IF Rating: 265 Cabbage, common, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt
IF Rating: 254 Melons, cantaloupe, raw
IF Rating: 228 Crustaceans, crab, blue, crab cakes
IF Rating: 217 Pickles, cucumber, sour
IF Rating: 199 Spices, oregano, dried
IF Rating: 163 Celery, raw
IF Rating: 156 Pineapple, raw, all varieties
IF Rating: 143 Cauliflower, raw
IF Rating: 140 Lettuce, iceberg, raw
IF Rating: 120 Papayas, raw
IF Rating: 119 Oil, olive, salad or cooking
IF Rating: 115 Strawberries, raw
IF Rating: 114 Oil, canola for salads, woks and light frying
IF Rating: 113 Seeds, chia seeds, dried IF Rating: 113
IF Rating: 105 Okra, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt
IF Rating: 102 Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average
IF Rating: 102 Peas, edible-podded, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt (Snow peas, Sugar snap peas)
IF Rating: 54 Peanut butter, chunky, vitamin and mineral fortified
IF Rating: 43 Beef, chuck, separable lean only, trimmed to 0″ fat, all grades, cooked, braised
IF Rating: 39 Ham, sliced, extra lean
IF Rating: 37 Grapefruit, raw, pink and red, all areas
IF Rating: 35 Chicken, broilers or fryers, breast, meat only, cooked, rotisserie
Increase Inflammation (least to most)
- IF Rating: -51 Bananas, raw
IF Rating: -64 Yogurt, fruit variety, nonfat
IF Rating: -145 Cereals ready-to-eat, wheat and bran, pre-sweetened with nuts and fruits
IF Rating: -144 Cake, pound, commercially prepared, butter
IF Rating: -144 Cookies, oatmeal, prepared from recipe, without raisins
IF Rating: -143 Crackers, saltines, unsalted tops (includes oyster, soda, soup)
IF Rating: -149 Bagels, cinnamon-raisin
IF Rating: -148 Rice, white, long-grain, regular, cooked, enriched, with salt
IF Rating: -153 Macaroni, protein-fortified, dry, enriched, (n x 5.70)
IF Rating: -151 Soup, wonton, Chinese restaurant
IF Rating: -155 Turkey, young hen, breast, meat and skin, cooked, roasted
IF Rating: -155 Rice, white, short-grain, cooked
IF Rating: -162 Spaghetti, protein-fortified, dry, enriched
IF Rating: -172 Wheat flour, white, bread, enriched IF Rating: -172
IF Rating: -177 Pancakes, plain, dry mix, complete (includes buttermilk)
IF Rating: -191Vegetable oil, coconut
IF Rating: -206 Cake, sponge, prepared from recipe
IF Rating: -212 Cranberries, dried, sweetened
IF Rating: -226 Raisins, seedless
IF Rating: -226 Jams and preserves
IF Rating: -244 Syrups, table blends, pancake, with butter
IF Rating: -268 Sugars, brown
IF Rating: -270 Sugars, powdered
IF Rating: -337 Coffee and cocoa (mocha) powder, with whitener and low calorie sweetener
IF Rating: -365 Chewing gum, sugarless
IF Rating: -370 Chicken, liver, all classes, cooked, simmered
Don’t you think the IF rating is intriguing information?
Eating fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids is important to combat inflammation. Unless you eat at least four servings of fish a week, you should take a fish oil supplement. Spices such as cayenne, ginger and tumeric are also additions to your diet, but like fish oil, they can also be taken in supplement form. Bromelain, an enzyme found in fresh pineapple, can also be taken as a supplement and also aids in healing.
These supplements decrease blood coagulation, so if you take a blood thinner, check with your doctor before starting this supplement regimen. If you don’t take blood thinners and start the supplements and diet rich with high IF (Inflammation Factor) rated foods, you should notice a difference in your health within a few weeks. I’m sure relief from skin allergies, painful joints and asthma sounds like a wonderful thing to many people!
By the way, reducing the inflammation in your body also smooths fine lines and wrinkles while rejuvenating your skin’s appearance. How’s that for a big plus on aging gracefully?!
The Dirty Word – Exercise
Regular physical activity is reported to decrease inflammation. There is just no escaping the need to exercise! Although initially starting an exercise routine while having something like rheumatoid arthritis may be uncomfortable and even painful (depending on your pain tolerance), the long term effects of exercising is worth the effort it takes to exercise through the discomfort.
Think of it like this…When you awaken in the morning, rather than getting up, if you were to stay in the bed for a solid week, how do you think you would feel? Yeah, I know my back would ache and my muscles would feel weak. As we get older, it is necessary to move around often to keep the body (the awesome machine) working properly (oiled and lubricated) and healthy.
My Final Thought
Since it has become abundantly clear that chronic inflammation is the root cause of many illnesses and diseases, it only makes sense that we should pay attention to the foods that can help us stay healthier. Not only will a diet rich in high rated IF foods provide steady energy, but it will also give us the vitamins, minerals and all the other things that will assist us in gaining optimal health.
I wish you good health and raise my glass to say “Cheers!”
Umm…By the way, my healthy water recipe is in our toasting glasses. Soda and alcohol is not good for us!