What is the anti inflammatory diet? It’s not a diet in the normal sense – this isn’t about restricting calories and weight loss (although by eating this way you will surely lose weight). Instead, an anti inflammation diet is a way of eating based on how foods react in your body.
Why anti-inflammation? Inflammation is a general term for many unhealthy reactions in your body. Very simply, you could think of inflammation in our bodies as rusting is to cars. Inflammation isn’t good for us, and we have to fight against it all the time. Inflammation is considered the root cause of several serious conditions such as cancers, asthma, allergies, heart disease, arthritis, rapid aging, and many other chronic diseases.
A Little Inflammation is Normal
A little inflammation is a good thing – such as the redness, warmth and swelling you see after an injury or infection. This is part of the body’s healing response. However, uncontrolled, long-lasting inflammation inside the body is damaging - it's like a smoldering fire inside your body.
And one of the major causes of chronic inflammation is the diet. Specific foods can influence how your body creates inflammation; by changing the way you eat and adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, you can change your health and reduce the long-term risk of getting sick.
Also, by controlling the amount of inflammation in your body, you will also start seeing improved energy because of all the healthy nutrients you will be consuming such as vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and phytonutrients, which are beneficial nutrients found only in plants.
The Basics of an Anti Inflammatory Diet
Food should only come from two places - an animal or the ground. If you can’t tell where that food came from, then it’s more processed and will promote inflammation in your body.
Eat plenty of fresh foods, namely vegetables and fruits.
Minimize or remove processed foods, fast food, gas station food (if you can call it that!)
Should be unrefined, whole grain, and eaten in minimal amounts. Grains increase acidity, which in turn causes inflammation.
Eat low glycemic load foods. Low glycemic load means the food doesn’t spike your blood sugar. You can read and understand more about the concept of glycemic load here.
Reduce or stop eating white/wheat flour, sugar, pastas, and packaged snack foods.
Do eat whole grains (the grain is intact and not ground into flour). Brown rice is an example of this.
Eat root vegetables, squashes and beans.
Fats & Protein (often come together)
Avoid eating processed meats such as sausage, salami, and lunch meats. These also have a lot of nasty preservatives in them.
Eat healthy oils in moderation. Olive oil goes well on salads. Coconut oil, avocado oil and grapeseed oils can withstand higher heating during cooking.
Don’t eat vegetable shortening or partially hydrogenated oils. You can find these on the labels of processed foods.
Do eat plenty of avocados, and nuts and seeds.
Do eat foods rich in Omega-3 oils such as salmon, sardines, omega-3 eggs, and flaxseeds. Or, take a good fish oil supplement – you need about 3000 mg Omega-3 oil each day.
Eating a large amount of plants – fresh veggies, fruits and anything else that grows – will provide you with plenty of protective phytonutrients.
Darker colored plants have more of these nutrients in them. Think berries, dark leafy greens, carrots, peppers, etc.
A great source of supplemental phytonutrients is Greens First and Greens First Berry. They boost your energy too!
Other Anti Inflammatory Diet Tips:
Minimize sugar and alcohol
Take a multivitamin-mineral supplement to fill in any holes in your nutrition plan.
Omega-3 oil supplements are important if you aren't consuming enough fish.
Vitamin D is super important. Foods may not provide enough on their own, so supplementation is necessary.
Drink clean water or green tea. Most fruit juices are nothing more than sugar and water.
I also consider exercise as part of the anti inflammatory diet & lifestyle. 45 minutes a day will do amazing things for your health, as well as significantly lower your risk for chronic illnesses. Eating an anti inflammatory diet will change your health and energy – you will be amazed at how well you feel!
If you’d like more guidance for an anti inflammatory diet and lifestyle, please come see us in our Fort Collins clinic.