Poor dietary and lifestyle choices over a period of time can lead to a build-up of systemic inflammation. This type of inflammation is not as easily seen with the naked eye. It will not appear as swelling or redness, but nonetheless your body will begin to break down.
Inflammation is the body’s best defense for healing, however when it becomes long-standing and chronic, disease and pain occur. It has been speculated to be the underlying cause of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, strokes, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, disease, and even cancers.
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet will slow or reverse progression of many diseases and painful conditions. It will even slow the aging process and protect against disease.
Why Does this Happen?
All food and lifestyle choice have either a net pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory effects your body. If you eat more pro-inflammatory foods and engage in a pro-inflammatory lifestyle, systemic inflammation will rise. This type of inflammation becomes chronic causing irritation and damage to the tissues, eventually causing disease.
Can I Test for Inflammation?
Yes, there are general inflammation markers that can be tested in the blood. These include Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein. These are general markers for systemic inflammation and are elevated in many diseases. These are not specific for any disease, but give the Doctor a clue and to the level of global inflammation. Just a note, inflammation can also be present without elevated ESR or C-reactive protein.
How Can I make my Diet Anti-inflammatory?
Eating anti-inflammatory is more of a lifestyle than a specific diet. By consuming food that has a net anti-inflammatory effect, disease risk is reduced. Many people also state that they have more energy and lose weight while eating anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatory foods provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, to go along with a healthy lifestyle. You also apply anti-inflammatory principals to your current recipes to reduce the amount of inflammation and still enjoy food that you like to make.
Dr Schreiber’s Recipe for Eating Anti-inflammatory
Consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day. Most Americans do not eat enough fiber. Fiber is essential for healthy gastrointestinal tract. Fiber also helps control blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. High fiber dies are also beneficial for those that are looking to achieve a healthy weight.
Eat 9 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Almost all fruit and vegetables are anti-inflammatory; the more the better. Within fruit and vegetables, anti-inflammatory compounds reside. Believe it or not, many phytochemicals have been shown to work better than prescription drugs! Also, they supply vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which protect against disease.
Eat 4 servings of Alliums per week: These include members of the onion and garlic family, which include onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, scallions, and chives. They contain a ton of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals and are best eaten raw.
Consume omega-three fatty acids. Omegas 3’s are anti-inflammatory and are incorporated in the cell membrane. They also compose a substantial part of brain and nervous tissue. These are available in supplement form as capsules and liquids. Sources include chia seeds, flax seed, flax seed oil, and some marine plants. Salmon and fatty fish are also sources, but the quality and contamination are becoming an issue.
Eat healthy snacks. These include fruit and vegetables. Avoid packaged and processed food, as these are pro-inflammatory.
Avoid processed and refined sugars: Processing of foods leads to inflammation. Many contain chemicals that promote inflammation but are also harmful to your nervous and endocrine systems. Be sure to check out my article regarding how sugar is labeled.
Avoid trans-fats: Trans fats are the worst type of fats. They promote inflammation and have been linked to other chronic diseases. Avoid these like the plague!
Add spice to your food! Certain spices have anti-inflammatory properties, and some have been proven to decrease inflammation better than prescription drugs. Turmeric is one example. Not only is it a very effective anti-inflammatory spice, but it has also been shown to help fight cancer and other chronic diseases! Other anti-inflammatory spices include ginger, cinnamon, basil, cardamom, chamomile, celery seed, cilantro, cloves, fennel seeds, parsley, nutmeg, and rosemary.
Avoid red meats, poultry, and processed meats. If you are concerned that you are not getting enough protein, make sure that you consume plant sources, such as beans, lentils, or quinoa.
Avoid most oils. Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil can be used sparingly. High quality canola oil is also acceptable, in moderate amounts. Avoid vegetable and corn oil as these are highly processed and crate inflammation.
Avoid margarine and shortening. These contain trans- fats and are highly inflammatory.
Avoid foods made of white flour. This includes pastas, breads, and baked goods.
Inflammation is a natural process and our body’s method of healing. Without it we would not be able to repair and regenerate our tissues, however, there is too much of a good thing!
If you have any additional questions regarding an anti-inflammatory diet, how to start one or looking for assistance, give us a call! We’d be glad to help!