At the root of many of today's illnesses is chronic Inflammation. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD - Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Microscopic Colitis), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Heart Disease, Vascular Dementia, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and Stroke are just some of the diseases thought to be affected or caused by chronic inflammation.
According to Harvard Medical School, “Inflammation is an essential part of the body’s healing system. Inflammation's aim is to defend the body against bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders, to remove debris and help repair damaged tissues." Inflammation is an essential part of the body’s healing system. The problem comes where there is too much constant, chronic inflammation which comes primarily from poor food choices and chronic stress.
Russell Greenfield, MD, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, believes the average American diet contains far too many processed and fast foods (which promote inflammation) with too many Omega-6 fatty acids and not near enough anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids.
When we eat inflammatory foods, the body’s tissues and cells become inflamed and that inflammation can become chronic and over time cause illness and disease. By eating an anti-inflammatory rich diet you can help the body to fight inflammation, regain its balance, and ward off illness.
The focus of what we eat should be on whole foods grown and produced in the cleanest, best possible ways. The more toxins, pesticides, and growth hormones in the food you eat, the more the body needs to work to flush out the toxins and harmful chemicals, which can also add to chronic inflammation.
One of the best ways to treat chronic inflammation is to heal the gut and reduce inflammation by making the best Anti-Inflammatory Food choices possible.
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS Include:
Cold Water Fish – wild salmon, mackerel, cod, herring, and sardines are very high in anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids.
Eat 2-6 servings/week.
Pasture Raised Beef, Bison, Poultry, Eggs & Cheese.
Eat 2-4 servings/week.
Nuts & Seeds – especially, walnuts, chia, flax, and hemp seeds are also high in Omega-3 fats .
Eat 1-2 servings/day.
Vegetables, especially cruciferous – broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts; dark leafy greens, and yellow, orange, and red veggies - contain carotene and antioxidants that help decrease levels of free radicals in the blood which could trigger the inflammatory response. Eat 4-5 servings/day
Fruits – especially those that are dark red, purple, and blue in color. Eat 2-4 servings/day.
Good Fats include: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds, avocadoes
Whole Grains such as long grain rice, millet, amaranth, quinoa.
Limit to a 1-3 servings per week.
Spices and Herbs such as turmeric, rosemary, ginger, garlic, oregano, and cayenne contain anti-inflammatory compounds.
Use every day to season foods.
Green & Herb teas – 1-2 cups per day
PRO-INFLAMMATORY FOODS should be Eliminated from the diet, including:
- Fast foods
- Junk foods
- Fatty, conventionally raised meats & eggs – these increase the production of arachidonic acid that leads to inflammation. These meats also come from animals who have been raised on antibiotics, toxins, pesticides, and synthetic hormones, which you then eat as well.
- Processed/Packaged cold cuts, meats, sausages, bacon, and cheeses – these are filled with preservatives, artificial flavors and colors and nitrates that are very hard for the body to process causing inflammation and free radical damage.
- White sugar
- White flour
- Hydrogenated Trans Fats, partially hydrogenated oils, and margarines are very high in Omega-6 fatty acids which compete with Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Artificial Sweeteners – including diet foods that contain these sweeteners
- Refined breads, pastry, and pasta
- Commercial Dairy products – milk, yogurt, cheese – again, depending on what the cows are being fed you may be drinking and eating foods laced with chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics.
Basically, if it comes in a jar, can, package, or is pre-made you want to stay away from it. Shop and eat from the perimeter of your grocery store where you’ll find fresh veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, cheeses, meat, and seafood.
Eat as much organic, locally grown, pasture-raised food, meat, and seafood as you can afford. I know it can get expensive so pick those foods that you can source and buy locally such as meat and veggies. Swapping a few foods for organic rather than conventionally raised will help in the long run.
I also know, first-hand, how hard it can be to change what and how you eat (I am a reformed carb-aholic - pastry, cake and cookies were my drug of choice!). So, to make it easier, slowly swap out a few inflammatory foods at a time for better Anti-Inflammatory Food Choices. As you slowly make these changes your taste buds and body will adapt and actually begin to crave cleaner, more nutrient-dense foods that are found in an Anti-Inflammatory Diet.
And if you need more 1-on-1 help email me to see how I can help!
- The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Michael Murray.
- Healing with Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford.