Is Inflammation Your Problem?
If you struggle with pain, chronic illness, excess weight, fatigue, or many other hard-to-shake health issues, then one of your core problems could be inflammation.
The good news is that one of the best ways – if not THE best way – to fight inflammation isn’t expensive medication or huge lifestyle changes. It’s simply a diet of real, whole, healthy foods.
The inflammation diet is all about balance and giving your body just what it needs. This isn’t about strict calorie limits or eating fat free – both of these methods risk doing more harm than good in the long run. But instead, you want to focus on giving your body the healthy fats and nutrients that boost your immune system and help calm whatever inflammatory response might be happening under the surface.
First let’s learn about why inflammation happens, then I’ll share a few of the best inflammation diet tips I’ve found.
Inflammation works a little like sports fans at their team’s championship game. One minute they’re cheering along in the stands, but once the final buzzer goes off to signify their victory, they’re flooding the court in an unstoppable wave—then setting cars ablaze while rioting in the streets.
And just like a harmless movement can balloon into one with disastrous and dangerous outcomes, inflammation’s healing intentions can also get out of hand and ultimately translate into the menacing consequence of sickness and weight gain. Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response. It alerts your body to a wound or injury, like when your ankle will start to throb and swell after a sprain, so your immune system can fix it. It’s not just external injuries that cause inflammation, however. Things like a lack of sleep, excessive stress, genetics, and—what might be worst of all—the wrong diet can all contribute to inflammation.
By “wrong diet,” we’re talking about the typical American diet which is full of inflammation-inducing foods. Think: fried foods, refined flours and sugars, hormone- and antibiotic-laden animal products, synthetic sweeteners, and artificial food additives. So if you’re constantly noshing on these items, your body will begin to transition into a state of chronic inflammation. This inflammatory, high-energy diet builds belly fat, reduces levels of gut-healthy probiotics, induces weight gain, causes joint pain, bloating, and fatigue, and has been connected with a host of diseases, from diabetes and obesity to heart disease and cancer. And it gets worse: Once you get belly fat, just like an active volcano, it can start spewing out dangerous substances through a condition called “leaky gut.” These biochemicals, collectively known as adipokines, include many pro-inflammatory chemicals that will continue to worsen inflammation, sending you into a waist-widening downward spiral.
So, if you’ve been struggling to lose weight, but you’ve continued to eat the same foods (yes, even if you are eating less of them) it’s time for a change. And science has an answer for you. Researchers are proving time and time again that fitting in certain foods into your diet may be all that’s needed to counteract the effects of inflammation-perpetuated weight gain. These healing foods attack inflammation by increasing the concentration of beneficial bacteria in your gut, turning off inflammatory genes, and decreasing levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers—many of which will torch fat in the process. Fit these foods into your diet, and you’ll be on your way to a leaner, happier you.
– via Eat This Not That
The Best Foods For A Better Life
So what should you eat to bring inflammation down and really give your immune system a boost? Check out the 11 tips below and see how you feel about working the inflammation diet into your daily life.
1. Consume at least 25 grams of fiber every day.
A fiber-rich diet helps reduce inflammation by supplying naturally occurring anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods.
To get your fill of fiber, seek out whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The best sources include whole grains such as barley and oatmeal; vegetables like okra, eggplant, and onions; and a variety of fruits like bananas (3 grams of fiber per banana) and blueberries (3.5 grams of fiber per cup).
2. Eat a minimum of nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
One “serving” is half a cup of a cooked fruit or vegetable, or one cup of a raw leafy vegetable.
For an extra punch, add anti-inflammatory herbs and spices — such as turmeric and ginger — to your cooked fruits and vegetables to increase their antioxidant capacity.
3. Eat four servings of both alliums and crucifers every week.
Alliums include garlic, scallions, onions, and leek, while crucifers refer to vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts.
Because of their powerful antioxidant properties, consuming a weekly average of four servings of each can help lower your risk of cancer.
If you like the taste, I recommend eating a clove of garlic a day!
4. Limit saturated fat to 10 percent of your daily calories.
By keeping saturated fat low (that’s about 20 grams per 2,000 calories), you’ll help reduce the risk of heart disease.
You should also limit red meat to once per week and marinate it with herbs, spices, and tart, unsweetened fruit juices to reduce the toxic compounds formed during cooking.
5. Consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis — conditions that often have a high inflammatory process at their root.
Aim to eat lots of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like flax meal, walnuts, and beans such as navy, kidney and soy. I also recommend taking a good-quality omega-3 supplement.
And of course, consume cold-water fish such as salmon, oysters, herring, mackerel, trout, sardines, and anchovies. Speaking of which:
6. Eat fish at least three times a week.
Choose both low-fat fish such as sole and flounder, and cold-water fish that contain healthy fats, like the ones mentioned above.
7. Use oils that contain healthy fats.
The body requires fat, but choose the fats that provide you with benefits.
Virgin and extra-virgin olive oil (organic if possible like this one) and expeller-pressed canola are the best bets for anti-inflammatory benefits. Other options include high-oleic, expeller-pressed versions of sunflower and safflower oil.
8. Eat healthy snacks twice a day.
If you’re a snacker, aim for fruit, plain or unsweetened Greek-style yogurt (it contains more protein per serving), celery sticks, carrots, or nuts like pistachios, almonds, and walnuts.
9. Avoid processed foods and refined sugars.
This includes any food that contains high-fructose corn syrup or is high in sodium, which contribute to inflammation throughout the body.
Avoid refined sugars whenever possible and artificial sweeteners altogether. The dangers of excess fructose have been widely cited and include increased insulin resistance (which can lead to type-2 diabetes), raised uric acid levels, raised blood pressure, increased risk of fatty liver disease, and more.
10. Cut out trans fats.
In 2006, the FDA required food manufacturers to identify trans fats on nutrition labels, and for good reason — studies show that people who eat foods high in trans fats have higher levels of C-reactive protein, a biomarker for inflammation in the body.
A good rule of thumb is to always read labels and steer clear of products that contain the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated oils.” Vegetable shortenings, select margarines, crackers, and cookies are just a few examples of foods that might contain trans fats.
11. Sweeten meals with phytonutrient-rich fruits, and flavor foods with spices.
Most fruits and vegetables are loaded with important phytonutrients. In order to naturally sweeten your meals, try adding apples, apricots, berries, and even carrots.
And for flavoring savory meals, go for spices that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, including cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, rosemary, ginger, sage, and thyme.
– via mindbodygreen
Would you consider trying to inflammation diet to help you feel better and maybe even live longer?