Inflammation is a very important part of the body’s natural immune response, intended to fight toxins, pathogens, and damaged cells. In fact, acute inflammation helps to protect the body from harm.
Where we get into trouble with inflammation is when we develop chronic inflammation. Numerous factors can cause this chronic inflammation and in turn this inflammation has been linked to numerous health issues including obesity, heart disease, auto-immune disease, joint pain, intestinal issues, acne, dermatitis, mood changes, and degenerative diseases like malnutrition, bone loss, and muscle wasting.
Join us for this 2-part blog series regarding inflammation and how to combat it.
One of your best weapons against inflammation is the food you take in. The Anti-Inflammatory Diet is designed to fight inflammation by replacing inflammatory foods with foods that heal the body and fight inflammation.
Inflammatory Foods List
Foods that are highly processed, high in sugar, or other simple starches will all increase systemic inflammation. When seeking to reduce chronic inflammation try to limit your intake of the following inflammatory foods:
- Unhealthy Fats. Avoid foods high in saturated fats or trans fats as well as hydrogenated oils. Saturated fats are typically found in animal products, but also include coconut and palm oil. These fats are usually solid at room temperature.
- Refined Foods. The chemicals and processes used to create and preserve highly processed foods increase the presence of inflammatory compounds in the foods.
- Simple Starches. Limit sugar and white-flour-based foods such as soda, candy, sweets, pizza, white bread, crackers, and pasta.
- Fried Foods, such as french fries, chicken tenders, onion rings.
Foods With Healing Properties
An Anti-Inflammatory diet incorporates foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, lean proteins, and a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables to provide antioxidants and other inflammation-fighting compounds.
- Fruits & Vegetables. The more natural color variety the better. Most fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients that combat inflammation and fight oxidative stress. Orange foods such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe, and carrots, are all good sources of carotenoids and vitamins. Dark leafy greens such as kale, arugula, bok choy, and broccoli are rich in sulfur. This means they force your body to go through two detox cycles instead of one, which reduces your toxic load. It’s recommended that you include at least 1 serving of fruits or vegetables at each meal. One serving is ½ cup fruits or cooked vegetables, or 1 cup raw vegetables.
- Spices. In addition to adding flavor and variety to your meals, many herbs and spices are rich in antioxidants and other inflammatory fighting compounds. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has been nicknamed “nature’s ibuprofen” for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to Turmeric, Ginger, Devils Claw, cinnamon, basil, and chili pepper are other common herbs/spices that are able to fight post-exercise inflammation as well as joint pain.
- Healthy Fats. Replace vegetable oil with avocado, grapeseed, or extra virgin olive oil which have been shown to minimize inflammation, and improve heart and brain health. Other examples of healthy fats include nuts, chia seeds, fatty fish, and full-fat yogurt. Avoid hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and saturated fats.
- Fish. Fish such as salmon, tuna, snapper, cod, sardines, mackerel, lake trout, and herring contain omega 3 fatty acids which are great fighters of inflammation. It is recommended you eat 1 serving, approximately 3.5oz of fatty fish twice a week.
- Nuts. Nuts are another great source of those important omega 3 fatty acids. Walnuts are particularly persistent in fighting inflammation.
- Green Tea. Green tea is the best tea for anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have also shown it helps reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
- Beans. In addition to being a great source of protein, beans provide fiber, folic, acid, and important minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc, and potassium making them another good choice for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection.
- Chocolate. Any diet that’s going to have you completely eliminate your favorite treats is significantly harder to maintain longterm. Instead, look for healthier ways to incorporate the things you love. Dark chocolate, at least greater than 70% cocoa, will help reduce inflammation and provide important antioxidants.
- Red Wine. While it is important to limit your alcohol intake for an anti-inflammatory diet, if you do choose to drink, choose red wine in moderation. Resveratrol is a compound found in red wine that has anti-inflammatory properties.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Action Plan
Lifestyle and nutrition are the key factors in preventing the inflammatory process and decreasing chronic inflammation. In Part 2 of this series, we will discuss lifestyle changes and other steps you can take to decrease chronic inflammation.