“We can eliminate health disparities if we understand the underlying cause of the disease along with root causes such as poverty and racism. With breakthroughs in medicine and with changes in social science and politics, we can achieve health equity. Certain people have had to suffer or endure more assault and injury. The body’s reaction to injury is inflammation. Combining the biology of disease and compassionate policies can lead to reaching the objectives of Healthy People 2020 and health equity,” says Elaine Hart-Brothers, MD, a retired internist affiliated with Duke Health Community Medicine.
Inflammation as a link to disease
Inflammation is the body’s response to outside threats like stress, infection, or toxic chemicals. When the immune system senses one of these dangers, it responds by activating proteins meant to protect cells and tissues. In a healthy situation, inflammation serves as a good friend to our body but, if immune cells start to overreact, that inflammation can be totally directed against us.
Harmful or chronic inflammation can have a number of triggers, including virus, bacteria, autoimmune disorders, sugary and fatty foods, or our body’s response to STRESS. Chronic inflammation can trigger disease processes such as, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even depression. While medication and other treatments are important, many experts say that adopting an anti-inflammatory diet may help, too.
For a healthy MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT avoid chronic inflammation. “In a nutshell” eat healthy nuts and learn about anti-inflammatory foods because controlling inflammation is crucial to human health and a key future preventative and therapeutic target. (British Journal of Nutrition)
What can you do?
Focus on lifestyle choices that reduce your risk of chronic inflammation (the kind that leads to disease). Many lifestyle factors have been shown to play a part in cellular inflammation: smoking, obesity, chronic stress and drinking alcohol excessively, for example. Fortunately, you can control these factors. And if you need help from a medical professional to do so, it’s available.
- Avoid stress and chronic anxiet
- Avoid tobacco
- Exercise helps fight inflammation
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods and avoid food additives
What should you eat?
Plant based diet – include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (like beans and nuts), and fresh herbs and spices like turmeric.
Fruits and veggies: Go for variety and lots of color. Research has shown that vitamin K-rich leafy greens like spinach and kale curb inflammation, as does broccoli and cabbage. And the substance that gives fruits like cherries, raspberries, and blackberries their color is a type of pigment that also helps fight inflammation.
Whole grains: Oatmeal, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and other unrefined grains tend to be high in fiber, and fiber also may help with inflammation.
Beans: They’re high in fiber, plus they’re loaded with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory substances.
Antioxidants destroy free radicals that cause cancer and cardiovascular disease. Green teas, pineapple turmeric olive oil, ginger beet, carrot, avocado, quinoa, cabbage, and sauerkraut
Racial Health Disparities need to be addressed because African Americans die at higher rates from chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes. Remember homicide is one of the largest disparities noted in Healthy People 2020.
Remember your ABCs to decrease inflammation
Always address avoidable inequities,
Be active and exercise regularly, and
Control inflammation through “colorful foods”
For More Information
OMH Office of minority health. Phone: 240-453-2882