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When our immune systems spring into action in response to the environmental triggers such as allergens or pathogens, including bacteria and viruses – our bodies are prompted to recruit white blood cells and other immunological agents to come to our defense. With this response come other changes to the tissues that include redness, swelling, fluid changes, increased heat, pain and discomfort.
This is the process that took place, for example, the last time you got a cut or infection. This is the cycle of healing and recovery, a normal and healthy inflammatory response.
Although this autonomic response is necessary to bring our bodies back to a state of balance, the inflammation that results comes with consequences that are not all good. In certain cases, the response is too severe, and depending on which tissues it affects it can be categorized as a disease. In these cases, the immune system overreacts and goes too far, attacking our healthy tissue. We categorize these diseases as autoimmune disorders.
Autoimmune disorders include:
Immune disorders are all characterized by overactive responses by the immune system. For instance, in Type I Diabetes our immune system attacks the cells of the pancreas that creates insulin, leaving the body unable to properly use sugars as we eat them – which we have discussed in multiple blogs in the past.
In most of the population, the inflammation we experience on a day-to-day basis is not extreme enough to fall under any of these clinical categories. However, research has shown many times that prolonged elevated levels of inflammation can cause detrimental effects on our health.
The foods we choose to eat on a daily basis can help keep the immune system in a healthy, functional balance. Those foods especially helpful to healthy immune response are:
Other changes we can make in our diets are portion control, limiting red meat and pork, reducing salt and saturated fats, monitoring nitrates such as found in cold cuts, and generally relying on fresh fruits and vegetables.
The standard American diet is good at providing sufficient nutrients and overall calories, but it is not especially effective at managing inflammation, avoiding infection, cancer, or allergic and auto inflammatory disease. When thinking about which foods we should be eating to fight unwanted inflammation, medical experts advise that we avoid processed foods and instead choose to follow the foods and practices listed above.
The evidence shows that certain foods can regulate the immune system, which can cause better outcomes for our health and ultimately our lives.