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How does Whole Food Plant Based eating prevent and treat inflammation – why is that so important?

Is all inflammation bad?

Plant based eating is key to staying healthy, in general, and during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Our White Blood Cells actually use inflammation to fight infections.

White Cell “multi pronged” attack on bacteria. Photo by Genetic Engineering Biotechnology

During acute inflammation, chemicals known as cytokines are released by the damaged tissue. The cytokines act as “emergency signals” that bring in your body’s immune cells (white blood cells),  hormones and nutrients to fix the problem   This process occurs in response to infection and injury.  During these days of Covid 19, (as during other infections) our defenses are key. Plant based eating supports a healthy micro biome which is an important point of defense.  The micro biome also is important in gut health; this is key because many of our white blood cells are made in the gut wall.

It’s been noted that an  excessive acute inflammatory response can result in more severe, overwhelming illness, rather than resolution of the infection.  Interestingly,  the most serious illness in response to Covid 19 is in people who have underlying conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, both which are associated with/caused by abnormal inflammation.  So the thought is that people with a already heightened inflammatory system, might be producing  an excessive and harmful response to the virus.

What does chronic inflammation do?

Chronic inflammation can have long-term and whole-body effects.  Chronic inflammation  produces a steady, low-level of “misdirected” inflammation throughout the body,  a  rise in immune system markers can be found in blood or tissue.  This type of systemic inflammation can contribute to the development of disease, notably  vascular disease, arthritis, skin and inflammatory bowel disorders.  .

A Case “Study” shows the benefit of a whole food plant based diet in resolving chronic inflammatory conditions.

Dr. Mike Gaudiose referred Ms. S. to a Wilson College HEA to help treat an inflammatory condition. Ms S. had years of lower back and hip pain and stiffness, and a variety of other joint symptoms as well as IBS. Finally,  she was diagnosed with a condition known as Ankylosing Spondylitis with positive tests for inflammation and  “HLA B27 testing”. Methotrexate was recommended, but she wanted to try  dietary changes first, a recommendation by her family physician,  Dr. Gaudiose. Within 3 weeks of whole foods plant-based eating, she announced to the HEA potluck groups,  “I  no longer have the chronic back and hip pain, my energy is so much improved and, I’m amazed, my  IBS has resolved.  Amazing what plants can do!!”

Plants have 64 times the antioxidant power as animal based foods

There are many clues as to how a whole foods plant-based lifestyle reduces inflammation. Plants are dense with polyphenols – i.e. phenolic acids, flavonoids, stilbenes, lignans which research has shown to have antioxidant, anti inflammatory and anti cancer properties. Of course it’s helpful to leave out processed foods and “non-foods” with many additives, which  also contribute to inflammation.  Anti oxidants are crucial to our body’s functioning and repair because they balance the “free radicals” that are produced in our body’s daily routine of making energy – the Krebs’s Cycle, as well as other biochemical processes.  Sadly, the current Standard American Diet is very low in antioxidants because it is low in plants; plants contain on average 64 times as much antioxidants as animals.

A Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)article  adds another clue. The July 24/31, 2018 issue reported a study which found that 26% of participants had antibodies to“alpha-Gal” a complex sugar that is an allergen in red meat.  They were found to have more arterial plaque build up than those without the antibodies, and those plaques were likely to be less structurally sound; that is, they could rupture more easily and block an artery. An inflammatory component to heart disease has long been suspected, and this may be one of them.  Researches found that, while a small percentage of individuals have florid allergic reactions to red meat, 20% might develop alpha-Gal antibodies without allergy symptoms, which could contribute to chronic smoldering inflammation.

TMAO and Inflammation.


Cleveland Clinic researchers studied TMAO production.

They showed that the omnivore (include animal products in their diet)  microbiome converts carnitine from animal protein to TMA, which the liver converts to the inflammatory molecule TMAO. TMAO is damaging to our blood vessels, contributing to plaque build up as well as inflammation. This inflammation also contributes to chronic kidney disease and diabetes  The good news is when you switch to plant based your micro biome quickly changes, and no longer makes TMA from Carnitine and choline.   READ MORE ABOUT our MICRO BIOME

Whole foods plant based eating reduces the inflammatory molecule CRP

A 2015 study by Sutliffe et al, showed that a vegan diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, have significantly lower CRP!  CRP (C- Reactive Protein) is another molecule produced as a part of the inflammatory response. Higher levels of CRP in the body reflect the presence of inflammation.  A study by Macknin et al in February 2015 Journal of Pediatrics also showed the lowering of CRP in parents and their children who were placed on a plant-based diet; persons in the other arm of the study were placed on an American Heart Association diet ,and that did not lower CRP.   

In the past  almost 10  years (since Oct. 2010 ) HEA has had over 600 participants. With our Adventures  almost all participants,  lose weight, cholesterol drops for many (even by 50 points), those with hypertension experience improvement and, not surprisingly,  diabetics note improved glucose control and less need for medication. In addition toMs. S., at almost every adventure we hear from folks who have experienced marked improvement in joint pains and also in inflammatory rashes such as chronic acne, psoriasis, eczema and seborrhea. As always, plant-based eating is certainly worth a try before trying some of the newer advertised drugs.

It really is no wonder a Plant-based lifestyle reverses inflammation and so many chronic conditions (i.e. diabetes, hypertension, heart disease). Plant based eating is key to a balanced immune system, and to staying healthy in general and during the Covid 19 pandemic.  This way of eating is “simply” adding back the 1,000’s of helpful molecules that our body needs to function, grow and repair, and it’s leaving out the damaging animal and processed foods.

Read more about fantastic results and why plant- based eating makes this difference.



An Adventure is a community-based 28-day program that can kick-start you on a lifetime of healthier eating with a whole foods, plant based lifestyle.

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