Everyone knows that healthy eating is essential to your quality of life and longevity. But there are so many diet trends, supplements, and meal plans – with conflicting reports and advice – that it’s challenging to know what’s best. An anti-inflammatory diet isn’t an unproven fad or short-term eating plan for weight loss. It’s a commitment to healthier eating that can help ensure optimal health throughout your lifetime.
The link between inflammation and health problems
Inflammation is one of the body’s natural defense mechanisms when something goes wrong, such as an injury or illness. The immune system sends white blood cells and other substances to the affected area to attack germs or to heal damaged tissue. On the surface, we can see and feel this immune response as swelling, redness, and pain. Normally this is a beneficial process, but when inflammation persists or serves no purpose, it can be damaging and lead to chronic illness.
Ongoing (and sometimes imperceptible) whole body inflammation has been linked to many serious chronic conditions, including certain cancers, asthma, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and depression.
Many factors can induce whole body inflammation, including sedentary lifestyle, stress, genetic pre-disposition, and environmental toxin exposure. The immune system might also improperly attack the body’s tissues, which is the cause of various chronic conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and diabetes. Regardless of whether you’ve been diagnosed with an inflammatory condition, your food selection and preparation methods can greatly impact your long term health.
How can an anti-inflammatory diet help?
If you have a condition that causes chronic inflammation, changing your eating habits can help. Your physician might also recommend medications along with other lifestyle changes.
There are various foods that can help ease inflammation – and there are foods that can make it worse.
- Foods rich in fiber
- Fruits and vegetables – go for color variety and organic produce
- Whole grains, including brown rice, bulgur wheat, and traditional oatmeal
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts, including walnuts and almonds
- Seeds – chia, flax, hemp
- Turmeric and ginger
- Organic low fat dairy, A2 milk (in moderation)
- Choose tea instead of coffee
- If you drink alcohol, choose red wine
- Cook with organic expeller-pressed avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- Small treats of cacao or dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa)
- Refined starches and sugary foods
- Processed and fried foods
- Whole milk, butter, cheese
- Margarine, vegetable shortening, and products made with palm kernel oil
- Coffee creamers or anything else with trans fats or hydrogenated oils
- Beer, white wine, hard liquor
- Artificial ingredients, including sweeteners
- Nightshades, such as tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers (depending on your sensitivity)
- Gluten (if you have Celiac disease or a sensitivity)
Everyone’s body reacts differently to foods, including which can trigger a flare up. Fortunately, there are effective methods, including elimination diets, which can help identify foods that might be problematic for you.
Whether you have an issue with chronic inflammation or not, an anti-inflammatory diet provides healthful and complete nutrition that can improve the way you feel – and it can help prevent many illnesses associated with aging.
Want to learn more about how to best incorporate an anti-inflammatory diet? SCAR’s nutrition consultant, Erin Stone in Orange, CA can customize a plan with you. Call 714-633-7227 to schedule your consultation and begin your path to better eating!
- Dongyang, L et al. Dose-response relation between dietary inflammatory index and human cancer risk: evidence from 44 epidemiologic studies involving 1,082,092 participants. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 107, Issue 3, 1 March 2018, Pages 371–388
- Wood, L.G. et al. Dietary inflammatory index is related to asthma risk, lung function and systemic inflammation in asthma. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2015 (45) 177–183.
- Bodén, Stina et al. Dietary Inflammatory Index and Risk of First Myocardial Infarction; a Prospective Population-Based Study. Nutrition Journal 16 (2017): 21. PMC. Web. 2 Apr. 2018.
- Berti, V. et al. Nutrient Patterns and Brain Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease in Cognitively Normal Individuals. The journal of nutrition, health & aging 19.4 (2015): 413–423. PMC. Web. 2 Apr. 2018.