One of the newest trends in health is anti-inflammatory foods and the anti-inflammatory diet. In a nutshell, its eating specific foods that help the body lower levels of inflammation and stay healthier.
The popular health guru, Dr. Andrew Weil, is the developer of the anti-inflammatory diet but many people have eaten this way before it had a “name”, particularly in the Mediterranean.
The Good and Bad of Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural response in the body which revs up the immune system and helps healing. It’s a good thing when we need it but chronic inflammation that persists can actually damage our bodies and cause illness. What contributes to chronic inflammation? Many things, including stress, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, exposure to toxins and even genetics. Nutritionists have learned that specific foods help our bodies fight this inflammation process and reduce long-term health effects and risks.
The Anti-Inflammation Diet
While it’s not a diet in the sense of losing weight, it’s very possible to lose weight and fat by just making healthier choices. It’s a diet in the sense of how we should eat on a daily basis and it certainly helps us make healthier choices.
The top things to do to fight inflammation on the Anti Inflammatory diet are:
- Eat as much fresh food as possible. This means skipping the cans, frozen and packaged meals. Most packaged foods also mean processed which lack nutrients, often are high in salt and quite low in phyto nutrients, if any.
- Eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables which is the cleanest form eating you can do, especially if they are organic. Eat a rainbow of colors and make sure many of them are cruciferous vegetables which have all the fiber, vitamins and phyto-nutrients to battle inflammation. Fruits like cranberries and grapes are particularly good due to the resveratrol in grapes and the tannins in cranberries. Broccoli , brussel sprouts and kale are other excellent choices (eat raw or steam or saute lightly).
- Drink tea – white tea, oolong tea and green tea which are full of antioxidant compounds to reduce inflammation and artery plaque.
- Get your carbs from whole grain sources like brown rice, bulgar and beans. These grains lower the glycemic load, causing less spikes in blood sugar and less taxing on your system.
- Get your fats from less saturated sources. Eat omega 3 fatty fish, fortified eggs, olive oil, flax seed and hemp seed and nuts like walnuts, almonds and cashews.
Bonuses: eating anti inflammatory foods doesn’t have to mean no taste, bland foods.I t’s actually the opposite! Besides the natural sweetness of fruits, adding dark chocolate ( 70% cocoa or more) is known to fight inflammation and keep arteries supple. A small piece every day or homemade (hydrogenated oil free) hot chocolate are healthy choices. Red wine used moderately (1 glass or less per day) is also a healthy treat to enjoy with meals as the french do -“French Paradox” anyone?
If you focus on anti inflammatory foods, not only will your body thank you for it, you’ll have more energy naturally with less highs and lows from blood sugar spikes and you may lose some extra pounds without even trying. Loading up on greens and healthy fats will keep you full enough to keep your hands out of the chip bag.