By Uma Campbell
Inflammation is uncomfortable, and something every person has dealt with at one point or another. Most often, inflammation is an indication of injury, but it can also be an indicator of an unhealthy lifestyle. Eating to reduce inflammation is far from the next big fad diet that will be disproved in a few months or years. Focusing on maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet helps us stay healthier in the long run, is easy to maintain, and reduces the amount of time it takes to recover from any injuries or illnesses you might suffer. Some doctors even believe an anti-inflammatory diet can stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s, depression, cancer or even cure acne. Let’s explore how an anti-inflammatory diet can enrich your life, and the lives of those around you.
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is our body’s way of fighting off disease and protecting itself from injury. When you are injured, your body increases production of white blood cells, immune cells and other infection-fighting substances, which rush to the site of the injury, resulting in pain, swelling, redness and heat. Swelling, pain and other symptoms of inflammation will eventually fade away as an injury heals, but chronic inflammation can eventually cause diabetes, heart disease, liver disease or even cancer.
What Causes Inflammation?
There are many causes of inflammation besides disease and injury. What you consume on a daily basis could be causing potentially damaging inflammation. Eating sugar or high-fructose corn syrup could potentially cause insulin resistance and obesity. Refined carbs, processed or packaged food, vegetable oils and excessive alcohol intake can also contribute to inflammation.
What Does An Anti-Inflammatory Diet Consist Of?
An anti-inflammatory diet consists of a rainbow of brightly colored fresh fruits and vegetables. The richer the color, the better the anti-inflammatory properties, so focus on adding things like tomatoes, peppers, leafy greens, cherries and berries to your diet. Brown rice, beans and fatty fish are also great anti-inflammatory food options. Foods to avoid when adopting an anti-inflammatory diet include lunch meats and hot dogs, deep fried foods, and most breads, candies, soda, sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
What Does A Day Of Anti-Inflammatory Eating Look Like?
A day in the life of an anti-inflammatory eater starts with a breakfast of oatmeal or yogurt and berries, with a fat free milk or dairy product. Lunch could include beans, salad or even veggie-heavy tacos. Between meals, cut up celery, carrot sticks, or eat a handful of almonds or nuts. For dinner, anti-inflammatory eaters often choose to go with less fatty meats, like skinless chicken, grilled with veggies like onions, olives or a salad with light dressing. Many people choose to eat dark chocolates after a meal, for a small amount of sugar and calories, but 70% cacao, which contains iron, magnesium and antioxidants.
Tips for Maintaining an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Maintaining a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet is easier than it sounds. Remember, as your diet changes, sometimes your body reacts by producing flu-like symptoms or even nausea. This is often attributed to candida die off symptoms, a process where your body experiences an increase in endotoxins, which slowly break down and disappear as your body becomes accustomed to the new diet. Don’t abandon your efforts! Simply spend a bit of time meal planning and keep healthy snacks around the house. Follow these easy guidelines to easily maintain an anti-inflammatory diet:
- Meal preparation: Take time to plan your meals out for the week, and make a list for grocery shopping – that you actually follow!
- Choose food carefully: Dark and leafy greens, healthy fats like avocados, fatty fish like salmon or tuna, and fresh berries and fruits like strawberries, apples and grapes should be included in your list. Add in plant-based protein-rich foods like beans and lentils!
- Healthy Snacking: Don’t buy or keep chips, sodas or other unhealthy snacks around home or office, opting instead for nuts and less sugary foods.
- Hydrate: Drinking more water is important to maintaining a good anti-inflammatory diet. Doctors recommend drinking between 4 to 6 cups of water per day. Keeping a bottle of water with you all day is an easy way to remind yourself to hydrate!
Maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet is easier than it sounds and is certainly no fad. Anti-inflammatory diets will often have many positive effects on your body that you didn’t expect, like weight loss or more vibrant hair and skin, meaning you’ve hit the health-jackpot. Even low levels of chronic inflammation often lead to disease, and certainly aren’t doing much to help you maintain an active lifestyle. Choosing the right, antioxidant-rich foods will keep you and your household going strong, more energetic and promote long-term healthy habits that can be passed down to the rest of your family.
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