An anti-inflammatory diet is a food eating habit which is specifically followed to help with conditions related to chronic inflammation. It focuses on food items that are natural, nutrient-rich and whole as opposed to food items that are refined, processed and packaged. Many healthy diet plan such as DASH and Mediterranean diet also focuses on such food categories which have been studied and found to be beneficial for body. The diet is also rich in antioxidants which can tackle free radicals that gets generated within our body.
The diet is specially recommended for those who are suffering or are at risk of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, asthma, eosinophilic esphagitis, Crohn’s disease, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, lupus, colorectal cancer. Even though certain medications are available to treat chronic inflammation, introducing anti-inflammatory food items can be a better solution if it tackles the root cause behind the inflammation.
How Anti-inflammatory Diet Helps?
By focusing on more natural and whole foods
Food items such as fruits and green vegetables help and give the body a chance to heal well. They provide us with much needed nutrition in a natural form. They are abundant and rich in antioxidants which help to lower inflammation causing free radicals. The lesser industrial inputs added to your food the better will be the quality of nourishment that can be derived out of it. Food which is grown with harmful chemicals do carry some of the chemical residue within them. As soon as these foreign food ingredients enter our body they can trigger the body’s immune system. A typical western diet low in whole foods can cause chronic inflammation as our body has to regularly fight these harmful residues.
By factoring in the lifestyle triggers
Anti-inflammatory diet is not just about the food that you eat but also includes the kind of lifestyle that you lead. It asks you to eat wisely and move more. While following the diet you have to be more intuitive and mindful about things that may cause inflammation. Habits such as eating too much of anything, even healthy food, can be dangerous. Exercising more at a stretch and not being able to let your body recover can be debilitating as well. Too much of stress and lack of sleep can contribute to chronic inflammation. The diet may start with what you ingest but it ends with the way it helped in making you attuned to your body.
What can be eaten as part of anti-inflammatory diet
Omega-3 fatty acids
These are compounds that have been shown to help reduce inflammation in our body. They can be obtained by eating oily fish such as salmon, mackeral, tuna, sardines cooked in healthy ways (such as being baked or boiled, instead of frying). If you are not much fond of fish food, you may consider having fish oil supplements. The omega-3 also helps to curb the harm caused by omega-6, which is commonly found in processed food. A healthy balance between the two omega compounds is essential to control inflammation.
They have been the staple diet for us and provide our body with vital nutrients and fiber. Fiber is a crucial ingredient when it comes to our digestive health. It helps healthy microbes to thrive which are responsible for the well being of your gut wall. If your gut linings are weak and damaged the harmful toxins can enter into your blood stream and trigger inflammatory response. The fiber found in whole grain can help with the flow of waste in the digestive tract that may be toxic otherwise. It also helps to lower levels of CRP (C-reactive protein) which is understood to be a marker of inflammation.
Fruits and Vegetables
The dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli have higher concentration of several important nutrients and minerals such as Vitamin E, Vitamin K, calcium and iron. Fruits that are colorful are abundant in flavonoids which can help the body to fight free radicals. These compounds help the body to build strong immune system that can actively overcome any acute inflammation and prevent it from turning onto a chronic inflammation.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, chia seeds, flax seeds are not only abundant in good nutrients but also provide you with healthy fats which are necessary to fulfill our need of macro nutrients. They also provide you with fiber, calcium, vitamin E, omega-3 fat and antioxidants which help to overcome free radicals.
Herbs and Spices
Ingredients such as turmeric, garlic, ginger help the body to reduce inflammation caused due to toxins and compounds. They also provide flavor to food that helps in reducing craving of processed food.
What should be avoided as part of anti-inflammatory diet
Food that is heavily refined and processed are lacking in nutrients. Since they do not satisfy us we tend to overeat them to overcome our hunger. They are high in unhealthy fat such as trans fat. They are also made using chemicals and preservatives which may be toxic to us and hence can contribute to chronic inflammation. Food that is prepared using vegetable oil contain more omega-6 fat than omega-3 fat. This imbalance can lead to inflammation. Fried food items should be avoided along with refined carbohydrates. Red Meat and processed meat such as hot dogs, sausage should be limited. Added sugar in any form is not helpful to reduce inflammation. Hence soda or alcoholic beverages should be avoided as well.
Unhealthy food can increase your chances of weight gain which can lead to inflammation as well. Anti-inflammatory diet is similar to other diet plans which have been associated to improve health of those following it. The focus should not just be on the diet requirements but the ways in which it impacts your life as well. Anti-inflammatory diet can be easily followed by sticking to basic rule of eating whole and healthy food in their most natural form.