The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

We all know inflammation on the surface of the body as local redness, warmth, swelling and pain.

It is the body’s normal response to injury and infection and a major component of healing.  But when inflammation persists beyond its normal limits or is misdirected, it damages the body and causes illness.  Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many degenerative diseases including coronary heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, dementia, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, and many cancers.

Learning how specific foods influence the inflammatory process is the best strategy for containing chronic inflammation and reducing long-term disease risks.

Unfortunately though, most Americans are making food and lifestyle choices that promote inflammation as a result of their consumption of poor quality fats, refined sugars, appetite for processed convenience foods and failure to eat protective foods, such as high fiber anti-oxidant foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Some Simple Changes to Cool Inflammation

Get an Oil Change – Avoid hydrogenated oils, corn oil, cottonseed oil and soybean oil, which are found in many processed junk foods. These are chemical fats that increase our risk for heart disease and cancer.  Avoid all margarines, vegetable shortening and artificial butter spreads.  Instead, use coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil as your main cooking oils. Enjoy cold-water oily fish like wild salmon, sardines and mackerel, which are also rich in anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fats.

Cut Your Sugar – Refined sugars are not only devoid of vitamins, anti-oxidants and nutrients but regular ingestion of sugar causes the body to become resistant to insulin’s sugar clearing effects. Since insulin promotes the storage of fats, weight gain follows.  Maintaining a healthy weight reduces inflammation.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies: Choose green and brightly colored vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash. They are super rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and disease-fighting phytochemicals.  Whole fruits, especially strawberries and blueberries protect our cells against oxidative stress. Try to include at least one of these anti-inflammatory foods into every meal.

Try Superfoods: Spirulina Powder, a blue green algae is a potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory supplement. Raw Cacao Powder, unprocessed dark chocolate is proven to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health.  Both can easily be added to smoothies to keep inflammation in check.

Go Nuts – Add nuts and seeds into your snacks and meals, especially walnuts, cashews, almonds, and nut butters made from these nuts. These fats boost your immune system and promote heart, brain and digestive health.

Get Less Refined – Swap out white rice, bread, bagels and pasta for high fiber grains like brown rice, quinoa, black rice and millet.  These high fiber foods keep blood sugar levels stable and decrease your risk for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.

Spice It Up – Incorporate anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic and pepper.

So try incorporating some of these anti-inflammatory foods daily and cut out those toxic fats, sugars and refined grains altogether.  Your body will thank you with multiple benefits including: increased energy, natural weight loss, less chronic aches and pains, improved digestion and stronger immunity.

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