Whenever people hear the word diet, they start to get nervous and sweat wondering how many salads they have to eat or what foods they have to surrender. An anti inflammatory diet (#antiinflammatorydiet) is a bit different and one that people should be nervous about. The intent is to reduce inflammation in the body and give your immune system a chance to relax. The purpose of inflammation is to alert the body to start tissue or cell repair. This is the natural alert system for the immune system to be activated. This response is initiated through injury, infection or diet. Below will be a list of foods to minimize to help your immune system.
Dr Weil’s Anti Inflammatory Diet
The anti inflammatory diet was based on scientific research by Dr. Weil who is a Harvard educated doctor and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine. The basis for this diet is the belief that certain foods cause or combat systemic inflammation. Before everyone freaks out, this is not a diet in the sense of measures caloric count with the intent of losing weight. One of the side effects of following this diet is weight loss. This is based on science and how the body reacts to certain foods and not a fad or hocus pocus that your neighbor tried and lost a ton of weight on.
- Fish that are rich in omega-3 acids such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring. Keep in mind that wild caught fish have a lot more inflammation fighting nutrients than farm raised fish.
- Soybeans such as tofu or edamame which are low in fat and high in protein and fiber. Next time you go for sushi, feel free to have some soup with tofu and edamame.
- Extra virgin olive oil is full of heart healthy fats and the oleocanthal found in olive oil has properties similar to non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs and antioxidants. Other oils to consider include avocado, safflower and walnut oil.
- Cherries are great for preventing gout attacks which are a form of inflammation. The anthocyanins found in cherries have an anti-inflammatory effect and can also be found in lower quantities in strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
- Low fat dairy such as milk, yogurt and cheese are great for strengthening your bones and your immune system. You should never skip out on these products.
- Broccoli, need I say more.
- Green Tea has been a staple in Asia and England for centuries and those populations have had low amounts of inflammation. Green tea is packed with antioxidants believed to reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction.
- Citrus such as oranges, grapefruits and limes are rich in vitamin C and help prevent inflammation. So go ahead and add lime to your corona.
- Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice and cereals lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood. CRP is a marker of inflammation associated with heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Beans such as red beans, kidney beans and pinto beans are a great source of fiber and fight CRP levels in the blood. They are also delicious in chilis and stews.
- Garlic, onions and leeks are great for the cartilage in your bones and helps reduce inflammation.
- Nuts such as walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds are full of vitamins, nutrients and heart health. Just watch the salt content.
Foods To Avoid
So now let us discuss some of the foods that cause inflammation and either avoid them or consume them in moderation.
- Processed sugars are notorious for inflammation in excess. Lets face it, we all want to bake our cake and eat it too. Desserts, pastries, chocolate, sodas and fruit juices are so common, that they make it hard for us to eat right. We all have a sweet tooth but limit sugars such as sucrose and fructose and the artificial sugars are even worse for you.
- Saturated fats from products such as pizza (i love pizza) and certain cheeses can create havoc on your immune system. Red fatty meats, chicken with skin, lamb, pork, whole milk dairy and butter are bad for you in large quantities.
- Trans fats used to make donuts, fast food, fried products, processed snacks, frozen breakfast products, cookies, and margarine are known as a source of chronic inflammation. The key is to avoid foods that say partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient labels.
- Omega 6 fatty acids found in oils such corn, safflower, sunflower, grape seed, soy, peanut, and vegetable. They are also found in mayonnaise and salad dressings. Remember that omega 3 acids found in fish are good but omega 6 are bad.
- Refined carbohydrates from white breads, rolls, crackers, white rice, white potatoes, french fries and cereals are a source of obesity as well. But who doesn’t love a plate of disco fries?
- Gluten is becoming more main stream is not only an allergen but also a trigger. Gluten is found in barley, rye and oat products.
- Alcohol is one that is hard to surrender but should be taken in moderation. Who doesn’t like a nice cold beer after a hard day of work.
As you can see, most of the triggers on the anti inflammatory diet are well known and are no secret. These ingredients are staples in everyday life. The key is moderation and a smart compromise such as not having cheesecake and eating a bowl of fresh berries. It’s a little adjustment that will go a long way.
There is no such thing as failure in the anti inflammatory diet but rather adjustments. We live in a fast paced society where we are always on the go. Having meals ready for us to quickly consume is important. If you struggle to add anti inflammatory foods, consider adding anti inflammatory supplements. Consuming natural anti inflammatory supplements from unprocessed food is the ideal condition since the source is in its basic and raw form. Taking supplements such as Vitamins A, B6, C, D, E and K will aid in keeping you strong and healthy. If you want to go one step further, you can perform anti inflammatory exercises based on strength training and cardio. All in all, the science says that the less excess weight on your body, the better your chances are of not being affected by inflammation.
Have you changed your eating habits based on inflammation?