This month we’ve been talking all about inflammation and anti-inflammatory foods. You can find information all over the place on an “anti-inflammatory diet”. But diet is really only part of it. Even the healthiest diets in the world cannot, alone, solve the problem of inflammation. To keep inflammation at bay, consider food and supplements, along with exercise, sleep, stress management and alcohol consumption. Chronic inflammation occurs when any one of these aspects of our lives are out of balance.
What is “inflammation”?
Inflammation is the activation of proteins that mediate inflammatory pathways and that are regulated by gene transcription factors. Our lifestyle controls these proteins and thus regulates our genes and the level of inflammation in the body. When inflammation is high, we don’t feel well, look good or perform our best. We don’t recover from exercise well and have a hard time progressing in our exercise programs. Our body is under attack and over time weight gain, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes develop. The management of autoimmune diseases, arthritis, PCOS, healthy body weight and a healthy pregnancy is worsened with chronic inflammation.
Foods to beat inflammation
An anti-inflammatory diet emphasizes colorful vegetables and fruits, unprocessed grains, high fiber legumes, herbs and and spices, plant sources of protein, oily fish, and organic foods. There are a few specific foods that I will highlight, but don’t loose sight of the big picture, an anti-inflammatory diet is a pattern of eating, not a collection of power foods.
- Antioxidants from colorful vegetables and fruit, especially berries, citrus, apples, pears, tomatoes, mushrooms, leafy greens, onion, garlic and cruciferous veggies (kale, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, radish) and spices, such as ginger, turmeric, and rosemary
- Plant protein from non-GMO edamame, non-GMO tofu, legumes and whole grains
- Fiber from unprocessed intact grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits
- Omega-3 fats from wild salmon, ground flaxseeds, omega-3 enriched egg yolks and non-GMO canola oil
A Way of Living
Reducing inflammation is good for all of us. For optimal health, peak exercise performance, disease prevention, and management of chronic conditions. This lifestyle incorporates eating right, regular exercise, adequate and quality sleep and stress management. The diet aspect of an anti-inflammatory life can be summarized with these five ideas:
- Put lots of color on your plate.
- Use unprocessed ingredients.
- Eat less animal protein and more plant protein.
- Eat smaller meals, and snack only when needed.
- Enjoy tons of spice and flavor!
This week I have considered aspects of and recommended an anti-inflammatory diet for many of my clients; a baseball player, a woman with PCOS trying to conceive, a man with high blood pressure and gout and a person with binge eating disorder. Each of these people have different goals and unique nutrient needs but they share the need for an anti-inflammatory diet to move them closer to their goals. To prevent muscle soreness and achieve athletic goals, reduce insulin resistance and conceive a healthy baby, control blood pressure, prevent a gout attack and to minimize the physiological impact of an eating disorder…an anti-inflammatory diet is a part of my recommendations to reach all of these goals.
You can find recipes that highlight anti-inflammatory foods throughout this blog.
Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.