The following is the first half of a two-part article on nutrition that addresses chronic inflammation.
One of the hallmarks of many chronic diseases and disorders is unresolved inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can develop when the immune system’s normal inflammatory response to an implied threat continues unabated rather than turning off once the threat is gone.1
Chronic inflammation is a common link among autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis; in cardiovascular disorders that lead to heart attacks and strokes; in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and epilepsy; and in mental disorders such as depression and schizophrenia.1 Vaccination has been reported to trigger the development of autoimmune disorders associated with chronic inflammation. 2
Infections and Vaccination: Two Different Kinds of Inflammatory Responses and Immunity
Infections and vaccines stimulate different kinds of inflammatory responses in the body. to produce antibodies that confer two different kinds of immunity. Naturally acquired active immunity is attained after a person experiences a viral or bacterial infection and the body mounts an inflammatory response to stimulate the production of antibodies and confers long lasting natural immunity. Artificially acquired immunity, which is not identical to naturally acquired immunity, is attained when a person receives a vaccine and the body mounts an inflammatory response to produce antibodies and confers temporary immunity. Booster doses of vaccines to re-stimulate inflammatory responses are often given to lengthen artificial vaccine acquired immunity. 3
Depending upon various genetic, biological and environmental risk factors, some people do not resolve inflammation either after an infection or vaccination and can develop chronic inflammation in the body that leads to chronic health problems.4 5 In addition to lab altered viruses and bacteria, there are many recognized toxins in childhood vaccines that either singly or in combination cause inflammation in the brain and other parts of the body, including mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, MSG, antibiotics, polyethylene glycol (antifreeze), squalene, virus like particles and adventitious agents.6 7
Acute inflammation is easy to recognize: heat, swelling, pain and redness at the site of injury or infection. Chronic inflammation is not quite so obvious, but there are common symptoms that indicate its presence. Some of the most frequently reported include headaches and brain fog, bloating and other digestive problems, joint pain, rashes, fatigue, weight gain, gum disease and mood issues8—many signs familiar to parents of autistic and/or vaccine-injured children.9
Diets Address Chronic Inflammation in Vaccine-Injured Children
The childhood vaccine schedule used in the U.S. has been questioned as a potential factor in the development of inflammatory chronic brain and immune system disorders in children.10
It is an unfortunate fact that those who question the safety of vaccines often “come to the table” following a firsthand experience with a vaccine reaction… in other words, too late to avoid the potentially devastating impact such a reaction can have on their own life or the life of their child. Since conventional medicine rarely acknowledges the connection between vaccination and chronic brain and immune disorders in children, it can be difficult to know where to turn after a vaccine reaction has occurred and there is often lag time before parents find a supportive network. In the search for healing, one of the first avenues explored by parents and doctors specializing in biomedical and holistic health interventions involves nutrition therapy.
Diet is among the most basic of approaches to addressing chronic inflammation. The connection between diet and the risk for developing inflammatory disorders has been recognized for at least 50 years, though studies have been inconclusive about the role played by specific foods and nutrients.11 Nevertheless, harnessing the power of food often can help counteract a chronic inflammatory process and improve some of the related symptoms.
Dietary Fundamentals for Reducing Inflammation
With all the “named” diets available, it can be daunting to decide which direction to turn. Most anti-inflammatory diets share certain basic tenets: avoid sugar and processed foods; stay away from refined flour, wheat, white foods like pasta, rice and bread; and eliminate unhealthy fats. Foods that are often recommended to reduce inflammation in the body are fresh fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, high-quality proteins like cold-water fish, and healthy fats. Some nutritionists suggest that the so-called nightshade foods, which include tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, goji berries and white potatoes, may trigger inflammation in some people,9 and commercial milk products may also cause inflammation in people who are sensitive to lactose or milk proteins.11
Food additives, including dyes, preservatives and artificial flavorings and sweeteners, and high-fructose corn syrup have been pinpointed as problematic for many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)12 and some nutritionists suggest avoiding them when trying to reduce systematic inflammation through dietary changes.
The Difference Is in the Details
Some of the most well known diets that surface in an online search for foods that fight inflammation include: the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), Paleo, Mediterranean, Atkins, DASH, TLC, Mayo Clinic, Weight Watchers, Raw Food, Keto, The Zone, Whole30, Autoimmune Protocol, Dr. Hyman’s Detox and Dukan…to name just a few. The annual U.S. News & World Report review of dietary rankings13 and other reviews14 of current diet trends can provide an overview for understanding different dietary approaches.
What Do the Experts Say?
The choice of an “anti-inflammatory” diet that limits foods, which have been identified as “pro-inflammatory,” depends on consideration of individual factors, such as specific food sensitivities, personal taste preferences, or the simple desire to try a dietary regimen that sounds interesting.
According to Harvard University’s HealthWatch, “Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.”15 Included in the HealthWatch list of pro-inflammatory foods that should be avoided to reduce inflammation include:
- Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
- French fries and other fried foods
- Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
- Red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
- Margarine, shortening, and lard
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Olive oil
- Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
- Nuts like almonds and walnuts
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
- Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
Note: NVIC would like to hear from readers who may have had experiences—good or bad—with these or other diets that address chronic inflammation in the body.
2 Orbach H, Agmon-Levin N, Zandman-Goddard G. Vaccines and Autoimmune Diseases of the Adult. Discovery Magazine Feb. 4, 2010.
3 Eberly College of Science. Elementary Microbiology: Categories of Specific Immunity. University of Pennsylvania 2017.
4 Blaylock RL. Chronic Microglial Activation and Excitotoxicity Secondary to Excessive Immune Stimulation: Possible Factors in Gulf War Syndrome and Autism. American Journal of Phyisicians and Surgeons 2004; 9(2): 46-51.
5 Institute of Medicine Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines. Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality: Evaluating Biological Mechanisms of Adverse Events (p. 57-102), Increased Susceptibility (p. 82). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press 2012.
6 Kaplan G. 11 Food Rules For The Ultimate Anti-Inflammatory Diet. MBG Health Nov. 19, 2015.
7 Bennie M. Gluten Free / Dairy Free Diet for Autism : My Experience. Autism Awareness Center Feb. 9, 2017.
8 Manzel A, et al. Role of “Western Diet” in Inflammatory Autoimmune Diseases. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports [PubMed, NCBI] January 2014.
9 Fletcher J. Anti-inflammatory Diet: What to Know. Medical News Today Dec. 3, 2017.
10 Parpia R, Fisher BL. Childhood Vaccine Schedule: Where is the Science? The Vaccine Reaction Oct. 6, 2016.
11 Tarantino O. 14 Inflammatory Foods Making You Fat. Eat This May 5, 2016.
12 Privett D. Autism Spectrum Disorder — Research Suggests Good Nutrition May Manage Symptoms. Today’s Dietition January 2013.
13 U.S. News Reveals Best Diets Rankings for 2018. U.S. News & World Report Jan. 3, 2018
14 Schupmann M. From DASH to Paleo: The Best and Worst Diets of 2015. Kansas City Star Jan. 7, 2015.
15 Foods That Fight Inflammation. Harvard Women’s Health Watch June 2014 (updated Aug. 13, 2017).