The Alternative Medicine Holy Trinity consists of boosting the immune system, detoxing, and decreasing inflammation.
As to the first point, except in extreme cases like late stage cancer or treating AIDS patients, boosting the immune system is neither possible nor desirable. An elevated immune system is characterized by autoimmune conditions such as lupus, celiac, and multiple sclerosis.
Meanwhile, detoxing is only genuine if a known toxin is being removed by a medically-understood process. An example would be a person exposed to a dangerous level of arsenic being treated by a toxicologist. Of all the “natural detoxing regimens” being touted, the only legitimate one is having a working liver and kidneys. And if those are shutting down, you need the ER, not an acai smoothie or mineral salt footbath.
Now onto the idea of reducing inflammation, which will be the bulk of this post. The usual idea is to avoid foods that will cause inflammation and subsequent unpleasant conditions, though exactly how they are doing that and what is being inflamed is often unexplained.
Indeed, there is no science suggesting that disease is caused by inflammation, that inflammation needs to be avoided, or the food avoidance would accomplish that.
While alt-medics wish to boost the immune system, which would be harmful were it possible, they wish to decrease inflammation, which could likewise be detrimental. One manifestation of inflammation is redness and swelling, which results when the body heals from injury or battles an infection. As Skeptoid’s Brian Dunning explained, “The capillaries dilate, allowing more blood to flow through, and also stretching open their pores, allowing white blood cells to escape the capillaries and inundate the damaged area. Inflammation is your body’s natural, healthy immune response to some problem.”
In most instances, alt-med proponents would welcome an all-natural, immune system-based response, but here such a solution is dreaded.
It should be noted that inflammation is not always the body’s way repairing tissue or fending off infection. It cases like rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, it can worsen the conditions. But this does not mean that there are specific foods that can help the patient reduce the inflaming.
Dunning cited the SkepDoc, Harriett Hall, who informs us that inflammation is a complex response involving many different physiological processes and is not a single phenomenon that could be addressed by a uniform response.
In those instances when inflammation is detrimental, there are anti-inflammatory medicines that can help with this, but are there any food that would do the same? Not according to anything that food scientists have uncovered. However, it should be noted that many alt-med websites focus more on what foods to avoid rather than ingest to combat inflammation. And here, they may be right, but nor for the reasons they think. That’s because avoiding all foods through fasting may have some impact.
Dunning explains: “When you fast, there’s a slight increase of lactic acid in your blood, along with beta-Hydroxybutyric acid, which is associated with ketones. These trigger some chemical reactions that turn off inflammasomes.”
Adopting the other extreme, gorging, will likewise increase inflammation. “If your gigantic meal is high in saturated fats, this effect is greater,” Dunning wrote. “The increased inflammation is associated with your body’s overdrive effort to metabolize this giant meal, and it subsides once the food has been digested.”
In summary, inflammation in a healthy person is the immune system’s way of fending off disease or tissue damage. Trying to fight that is both counterintuitive and futile.