Anti-Inflammatory Diet

An anti-inflammatory diet helps to reduce chronic inflammation which is one of the contributing causes of macular degeneration. 

"AMD is an ocular disease with inflammation strongly interwoven into its pathogenesis."

Inflammation and its role in age-related macular degeneration: Cell Mol Life Sci. 2016; 73:1765-1786

anti inflammatory foods

At a recent opthalmology conference, Dr. Kameran Lashkari, from Harvard Medical School’s Schepens Eye Research Institute, provided "highlights into research at Harvard involving blood factors surrounding chronic inflammation in the back of the eye that induces drusen, a yellowish deposit that is a sign of age-related macular degeneration."

Most of us are aware of an acute inflammation, like a sprained ankle, an infection or the flu. But most people are not aware that chronic inflammation is a process that is linked to diseases like heart disease, Alzheimers, cancer and diabetes.

Dr. Michael A. Samuel, the author of Macular Degeneration: A Complete Guide for Patients and Their Families, states that "Chronic inflammation ... can and should be modified with diet and supplements."

Gluten and Inflammation

What is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye and barley but it is also a hidden ingredient in many sauces, prepared foods, sausages, ice cream and even lotions and shampoos.

The most common foods with gluten are of course breads, pancakes, waffles, cereals, crackers, cakes, cookies, and pies. Other foods/drinks include beer, sauces, and packaged foods.

Other less common foods are barley, bran, orzo, and bulgur. This is by no means a complete list. Be aware that there are many foods containing gluten that will surprise you - like salad dressings, ice cream, and canned soups.

"When inflammation goes awry, a variety of chemical are produced that are directly toxic to our cells. This leads to a reduction of cellular function followed by cellular destruction. Unbridled inflammation is rampant in Western cultures, with leading scientific research showing that it is a fundamental cause of the morbidity and mortality associated with coronary artery disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and virtually every other chronic disease you can imagine."

Dr. David Perlmutter

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers

Saturated and Unsaturated Fats

One significant aspect of an anti-inflammatory diet involves the amount and the type of fats we include in our diet. It is important to:

√ Increase the amount of good fats in your diet

√ Eliminate the bad fats from your diet - eating fried or processed foods and transfats

anti inflammation foods

Another retina specialist, Dr. Lylas Mogk, writes about this in her book, Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight, "one of the main risk factors for developing age related macular degeneration is a diet too high in omega-6 fatty acids and too low in omega-3 fatty acids."

Salmon Fish Oil

anti inflammation foods

Salmon fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties that benefit our bodies as well as our eyes. Studies link a lower risk of developing AMD in those who include this fish in their regular diet.

Wild caught salmon fights inflammation better than farm raised salmon.

Farm raised salmon is higher in omega-6's and wild caught is higher in omega 3 fatty acids. Cold water fish, like salmon, is one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

Find out what you should know about farm raised salmon and how eating this type of fish may actually prevent you from getting the benefits of omega-3s:

Salmon Fish Oil

Coconut Oil Benefits

Coconut oil benefits all of us as a powerful antioxidant. For years we were told to stay away from this fat that turns white and hard in cooler temperatures.

However, virgin coconut oil is one of the best oils to cook with at high temperatures because this oil does not oxidize (which means less free radicals to do damage to our eyes).  Unlike many other oils, it remains stable even when used with high heat.

The benefits of coconut oil are the result of this saturated fat consisting primarily of medium chained fatty acids.

Virgin coconut oil benefits are found in virgin coconut oil which uses fresh coconut meat.

No chemicals or high heat are used in the processing method.

Look for a product that is certified organic and made from fresh, organic coconuts.

Coconut oil is NOT hydrogenated, and contains NO trans fatty acids. Although it is a saturated fat, it is a medium chain fatty acid. This means that the body uses it more efficiently and it can be used quickly for energy.

Neurologist and author, Dr. David Perlmutter, the author of Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers, writes, "...coconut oil can help prevent and treat neurodegenerative disease states. It's a superfuel for the brain and also reduces inflammation."

Low Glycemic Carbs

Low glycemic carbs are an important part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Understanding that foods are either low or high in glycemic index may be a new concept for you.

anti inflammation foods

Basically, you want to include foods that are slower to digest - foods like lentils, sweet potatoes and apples to name a few.

To learn what foods are in the good carbs list and which ones aren't click here: Low Glycemic Carbs

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Macular degeneration is caused by many different factors such as family genetics, lifestyle, nutrition and our environment. However, according to another ophthalmologist, Dr. James C. Folk, author of Protect Your Sight,

anti inflammation foods
"Other studies also support that AMD is associated with over active inflammation... The Age Related Eye Disease Study found than an elevation of C-reactive protein in the blood was associated with advanced AMD. C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation in the body.."

Is it possible to influence this inflammation through lifestyle, diet and nutrition? Many specialists think so, including Dr. Michael A. Samuel. He makes two main diet suggestions:

1. Eat an Anti-inflammatory Diet

2. Eat a Diet Rich in Anti-Oxidants 

If you are looking for an anti-inflammatory diet book that includes recipes and lists specific foods, fats, herbs, and spices that are anti-inflammatory then choose The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book, Second Edition: Protect Yourself and Your Family from Heart Disease, Arthritis, Diabetes, Allergies, and MoreIt has some great recipes and contains lists of anti-inflammatory foods.

Include Digestive Enzymes

Dr. Susan Lark, the author of Enzymes: The Missing Link to Health explains that digestive enzymes also play a role in inflammation.

anti-inflammatory diet

She writes, “A second important function of these enzymes is to break up inflammation caused by trauma, infections, allergens and toxins to initiate the repair of tissue. Thus, abundant production of digestive enzymes can greatly limit the severity and scope of inflammation diseases …”.

As we age our ability to secrete and produce digestive enzymes, simply slows down. For most people it begins in their 50's and 60's. With age there are more digestive problems including bloating, constipation, gas, belching, heartburn or acid reflux. Foods that were once enjoyed now cause problems and people either stay away from them or suffer the consequences.

While digestive enzymes are not license to eat any foods you want, they indeed are an important aspect of supporting your health.

Without digestive enzymes our food cannot be broken down and assimilated into the cell walls. These enzymes play a very vital role in absorbing nutrients to support our health and to give us energy.

While there are lots of good options out there, we have chosen to take Nature's Sunshine Food Enzymes. Take them just before each meal. You may be surprised like we were how many of our digestive issues have diminished because of this one small change. If you are interested you can get them at Amazon here:

Nature's Sunshine Food Enzymes Supports Digestive System 120 Capsules (Pack of 2)


To have a healthy GI system (and a healthy immune system) you need a balance of healthy or good bacteria living in your gut.

Most people do not have this balance due to the food and water we eat and drink. Almost every American has taken antibiotics at sometime in their life. This of course kills the bad bacteria, but it also kills the good bacteria residing in our gut or GI system.

Most of the meat we eat is from cows, chickens or fish that have been fed antiobiotics and so we ingest antiobiotics when we eat them. 

The chlorine in our water also kills some of the good bacteria. Some foods, like those that are high in sugar, encourage the growth of bad bacteria.

Dr. Huffnagle writes about inflammation and probiotics in his book The Probiotics Revolution: The Definitive Guide to Safe, Natural Health Solutions Using Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods and Supplements:

"Probiotics are vital for our immune system as well. They actually send signals to the immune system that reduce destructive overreactions, including inflammation."

Probiotics protect us by keeping the "bad bacteria" population under control."

Drink More Filtered Water

According to Damon Miller, M.D., and author of Stem Cells Heal Your Eyes: Prevent and Help: Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Stargardt, Retinal Distrophy, and Retinopathy., "increasing your intake of water and decreasing your stress is essential to reducing inflammation."

"It may sound simple-minded, but inflammation is essentially a fiery problem - adequate water helps 'put that fire out.'"

Drinking more water throughout the day is good for many body systems, like our kidneys, liver and circulatory system. As you can see there are lots of ways to reduce chronic inflammation. Start practicing some of these tips now.

"While AMD pathogenesis is undoubtedly multifactorial, including the effects of aging and oxidative stress as well as genetic and environmental factors, significant evidence has emerged implicating inflammation and the immune system. "

Int Ophthalmol Clin. 2015 Summer; 55(3): 63–78.

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