Anti-Inflammatory Diet

In the past few years, it has become clearly visible that chronic inflammation can be the root of several diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and irritable bowel disease among many others. We commonly think of inflammation as a response to sudden injury, irritation, burn and/or surgery. Although stress, dietary choices, genetic predisposition, lack of exercise and exposure to toxins can contribute to chronic inflammation. Being able to identify specific foods and how they influence the inflammatory process is the best strategy for managing and reducing long-term disease risks.

The anti-inflammatory diet, similar to the Mediterranean diet, is a way of selecting and preparing foods that will allow to control and reduce inflammation, provide steady energy, a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber, essential fatty acids and protective phytonutrients.

When following an anti-inflammatory diet you need to choose a variety of foods, eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables, decrease the consumption of processed foods, consume as much fresh and whole foods as possible and try balancing each meal with most food groups. The goal of this diet is to reduce pain, discomfort, and prevent further damage caused by inflammation and chronic disease.

Start out by reducing the amount of pro-inflammatory nutrients consumed per day. For example, avoid consuming an excess in calories which can lead to an accumulation of fatty tissue leading to obesity. A diet high in refined sugars and starches can also lead to obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Try consuming whole grains like brown rice and bulgur which are rich with fiber and have a low glycemic load.

Reduce your intake of saturated and trans fatty acids by increasing omega 3 fatty acids, increase intake of heart healthy oils such as flaxseed or olive oil, choose lean protein sources, and switch to low fat dairy products. Include healthy plant based protein like nuts, beans and seeds which can also provide a good amount of dietary fiber.

Antioxidants are essential in our diets to delay or prevent cell damage. Fruits and vegetables have a wide variety of antioxidants and phytonutrients which can fight cell damage and disease. Choose fruits and vegetables from all parts of the color spectrum, especially berries, tomatoes, carrots, and dark leafy greens. Green tea and dark chocolate enjoyed in moderation are other good options to increasing antioxidant intake which can ease chronic inflammation.

Lastly, staying properly hydrated is essential for your body to function properly and reduce inflammation. Aim for approximately 6-8 glasses of water per day. If it becomes difficult to reach that goal, try infusing your water with pieces of fresh fruits and herbs to give it a refreshing kick.