This month I want to focus your attention to food choices that affect your body’s response to injury and infection. Inflammation is a common ailment to many people suffering from temporomandibular disorders. Inflammation has its place in the homeostasis of human health, but it can become a difficult burden if not well controlled. Chronic inflammatory conditions can lead to discomfort, deformation, and delayed healing. Levels of inflammation may fluctuate from time to time. There are certain foods which tend to upregulate inflammatory reactions, and other foods which tend to limit levels of inflammation. When we are in an active inflammatory state, it may benefit us to modify our diet towards those foods which can limit inflammation, and to avoid those foods which tend to stimulate inflammation.
Common foods that tend to increase inflammatory reactions include: fried foods, white flour, margarine, and foods that are high in sugar (particularly high fructose corn syrup). Even some healthy foods can encourage inflammation, including fruits of nightshade plants such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, tomatillos, eggplant, and chili peppers. These fruits have many nutritional benefits, but during an acute flare up of inflammation, choosing alternative vegetables may be beneficial. Foods which tend to lower inflammation include apples, berries, cauliflower, ginger, curry, cinnamon, fatty fish, olive oil, and whole grains. In addition, vitamin C and vitamin D are helpful in reducing inflammation. High quality vitamin supplements and time in the sun can help boost these vitamin levels.
Every time we put something in our mouth to eat, we are making a decision. We decide that whatever food we have chosen to eat is acceptable for our bodies. We frequently go for what is convenient, fast, or easy. I suggest we make a conscientious effort to choose foods of high quality and natural sourcing to support our bodies adaptive and protective ability. TMJ problems are best managed
Nathan J. Pettit, DMD, MSD
Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics