The new buzz word is “Inflammation” and how this causes lasting damage to your heart, brain and other organs. Starbucks has even jumped on the bandwagon touting their new drink called a Chile Mocha as “anti-inflammatory” – so, does this now mean inflammation is something we should be taking seriously? Actually, it does. Research is starting to show that inflammation is directly involved with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and depression. Chronic inflammation or whole-body inflammation is a low level immune response that is thought to cause disease over time. Think it’s a crock? It’s well known that inflammation causes plaque in your heart and carotid arteries to become unstable and break off causing heart attacks and strokes. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the USA – it kills more people each year than cancer and lung diseases combined. Alzheimer’s patients with higher levels of inflammatory markers show a greater cognitive decline. Inflammation plays a direct role in non-alcoholic liver disease which causes cirrhosis and liver cancer. Inflammation causes problems with insulin regulation and leads to insulin resistance and diabetes. Inflammation also causes DNA damage leading to many types of cancer – the chronic inflammation from Crohn’s disease puts these patients at a much higher risk for colon cancer. Chronic inflammation comes from pollution, toxins, secondary tobacco smoke, stress, a sedentary lifestyle and diet. It’s difficult to control your environment and stress, but you can control your activity level and your diet. Foods that cause inflammation are refined carbohydrates (white bread), fried foods, soda, red meat, pork, processed meats, margarine and chicken. Foods that combat inflammation are tomatoes, olive oil, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish like salmon, nuts, berries, cherries and oranges. Your diet should include minimal processed foods (foods from a box), less animal products, less refined sugars, lots of fruit and lots of fresh vegetables. You’re going to be seeing a lot more information about inflammation and your health but choosing the right foods may reduce your risk of chronic illness while the wrong ones accelerate inflammation and disease. You fill your car’s gas tank with the proper fuel so think about treating your body as well as you treat your car. Then get out of your car and start walking more! Call me for a meet and greet in my medical practice (www.bralowmedicalgroup.com) where we focus on health and wellness with hour-long patient visits and direct contact through my cell phone and email.