Factors That Influence Inflammation in breast cancer survivorsA number of lifestyle factors play a role in contributing to chronic inflammation.
Inflammation can be set in motion by your fork and knife. Not surprisingly,
packaged foods that are high in sugar or trans fats are among the most potent of
pro-inflammatory foods. And the type of fat you eat just might play the biggest role
of all in determining levels of systemic inflammation, as you’ll see shortly.
Oxidative StressYour body continually combines the oxygen you breathe with nutrients from the
food you eat to produce energy. One result is oxidation: the stripping of an electron
from each atom or molecule the oxygen combines with, creating what biochemists
call free radicals (which we’ve mentioned a number of times previously). Since
electrons come in pairs, when molecules lose an electron, they “steal” electrons
from other molecules. These molecules then “steal” electrons from other
molecules, and so on.
Free-radical activity is a normal part of being alive, and when it is under
control, it’s part of the engine that drives metabolism. But heavy metals, toxic food,
smoking, and all sorts of other internal and external assaults—even an imbalance of
nutrients—can rev up this process. This is oxidative stress. Unchecked, oxidation
can behave like an out-of-control fire, damaging cells, tissues, and organs
indiscriminately—the dangerous chain reaction known as free-radical damage. In an
attempt to repair such damage, the body calls for an immune response, which, in
turn, initiates inflammation, and this causes even more free-radical generation. It’s a
One way to keep inflammation and oxidative stress under control is to eat a diet
rich in antioxidants. Eight to twelve servings a day of fruits, vegetables, or both
should do the trick.