Friday, August 14, 2009

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

While at my new physician's office last week, I picked up some interesting reading on how to avoid inflammation in the body by eating better. I found the pamphlet very interesting and it got me looking in a few of my other text books to see what else I could find out.

Inflammation is a natural reaction to injury or infection. The affected tissues redden, become warm and tender, and may be painful. In the case of an external injury or bruise/sprain etc., inflammation is a normal process that helps to heal the body. Internal inflammation, however, can be much more serious. Internal inflammation can be brought on by allergies, anemia, arthritis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, Crohn's disease, osteoarthritis, peptic ulcer disease or ulcerative colitis.

A number of medical conditions have been linked to too much inflammation in the internal tissues. These include:

  • Heart disease

  • Stroke

  • Cancer

  • Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (emphysema and bronchitis)

  • Asthma

  • Chronic pain

  • Type 2 Diabetes

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn's or ulcerative colitis)

  • Alzheimer's Disease

  • Diseases where the immune system attacks the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or scleroderma.

What Can We Do To Avoid Inflammation?

Emerging research is showing that things like stress levels, how much we exercise and what we eat will influence how much inflammation we have in our bodies and therefore our likelihood to suffer from chronic disease. It is possible to eat in ways that decrease inflammation, pain and other symptoms of disease. Many studies have shown that people who eat certain types of foods are less likely to have problems with inflammation. Here are some of the guidelines to follow.

  • Avoid unhealthy fats: Trans-fats and fats that are high in omega-6 fatty acids cause inflammation. Better choices are fats like olive oil, butter, or coconut oil.

  • Eat fruits and vegetables: I know, we've harped on this over and over; but a diet high in fruits and vegetables is good for decreasing inflammation. The more servings the better!

  • Eat fiber rich foods: Diets high in fiber are shown to help decrease inflammation. A good goal is about 30 grams a day. Ideal sources are whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

  • Eat more raw foods. A diet consisting of about 50 to 75% raw is recommended.

Eat More of These

  • Foods high in omega-3 fats like cold water fish (salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel); ground flax seeds or flax oil; green leafy vegetables; and walnuts (see Shannan's banana bread recipe - Yum!).

  • Food high in antioxidants like yellow, orange, and red vegetables; dark leafy greens; citrus fruits; black and green teas; and allium vegetables, like onion and garlic.

  • Spices that contain anti-inflammatory compounds: ginger, rosemary, turmeric, oregano, cayenne, clove, and nutmeg.

  • Herbs that have anti-inflammatory properties: boswellia, willow bark, and feverfew.

Avoid Eating

  • Foods high in trans- and omega fats like red meats (4 ounces of lean meat okay in moderation); partially hydrogenated oils; corn, cottonseed, grape seed, peanut, safflower, soy and sunflower oils; foods with a long shelf life like chips, crackers, and etc; and pork and ham.

  • Foods high in simple carbohydrates. Foods that cause a rapid rise and then drop in insulin levels seem to cause more inflammation. These include white bread or bagels; English muffins; instant rice; rice and corn cereals; pasta and potatoes; and fructose and high fructose corn syrup.

  • Foods that cause allergies and these vary from person to person. Some common ones are dairy, wheat, eggs, artificial flavors and colors, and high fructose containing foods.

Very interesting stuff! I love finding out that I have some control over my future health by making good choices now!

Have a great weekend!



Diane, Fit to the Finish said...

Very good information. I lost all my weight (150 lbs) years ago, and I still find myself working towards eating not only to maintain weight, but to improve my health.

Hanlie said...

I love how the same diet that preserves health in one area, preserves health in all other areas. It's so simple, yet we've made it so complicated!

Living A Whole Life said...

Hello Diane! That is awesome and so great that you continue to stretch yourself and learn more about nutrition to continue improving your health.

Hey Hanlie! Yes it really is simple once we learn and start practicing good health. It's learning new information and breaking old patterns of eating that can trip us up at times.


Blue Skies said...

I enjoyed being reminded!

This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog is intended to replace the advice of a physician. We recommend consulting a physician before embarking on diet changes or a fitness routine. In addition, we recommend that you thoroughly research alternate points of view and make your own decisions as an informed consumer. You are ultimately responsible for your health.