When I tell my patients that a food is beneficial for them because it is anti-inflammatory, many of them look at me like I`m from Venus (which I am, and men are from mars, right? :P). Most people assume that if they don’t have arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease, they don’t need anti-inflammatory foods. False.
To a certain degree, inflammation is crucial to good health. It participates in your body`s immune response and aids your body to protect and repair itself. However, when inflammation goes bonkers and gets out of control, it can cause a chronic, smoldering fire inside your body that potentially contributes to disease.
The causes of this firey inflammation are many: sugar you eat, the wrong oils and processed fats in your diet, food allergies, insufficient exercise, chronic stress, being overweight and hidden infections can all trigger inflammation deep inside your body, which is obviously invisible to the naked eye (unless you`re an X-man or X-woman, in which case, I want to be your friend). This inflammation is not to be taken lightly – this big bad wolf can (at least partially) contribute to major chronic diseases of aging — heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer`s, diabetes, arthritis and dementia. It is also thought to be linked to skin wrinkles. You might think “Hey! I feel fine! I`m pretty sure I’m not inflamed” – alas, the symptoms of inflammation are not always overt.
Everybody can benefit from adding more inflammation fighting foods to their dietary regimen, here`s why:
Anti-inflammatory foods do all of the following:
1) Help lubricate joints during and after a workout (and throughout the day) to protect your joints and articulations
2) Strengthen the immune system
3) Prevent and manage chronic disease by reducing risk of maladies with an inflammatory component (cardiovascular disease, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, autoimmune conditions, etc.).
Some top therapeutic anti-inflammation foods include:
Fruits & Vegetables: all fruits and vegetables (especially bright hues), avocado
Nuts and seeds: hemp seeds, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, Brazil nuts
Starches: sweet potatoes, black rice, red rice
Protein sources: lentils, chickpeas, red beans, white beans, black beans
Spices: all – especially turmeric, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, onion, cayenne
Oils: olive oil, evening primrose oil
Other: Dark chocolate, green tea, and occasional and moderate consumption of red wine (Pinot noir is the grape with the most antioxidants and resveratrol – throwback to the movie “Sideways” 🙂 )
Moreover, eating an anti-inflammatory “diet” involves reducing or eliminating the pro-inflammatory foods such as processed foods, refined sugars (added and hidden – sugars can attach themselves to the proteins making up your body`s tissues and form pro-inflammatory compounds- which ages our tissues), saturated fats (red meat (especially corn-fed), full-fat dairy, etc.), certain oils (sunflower and corn oil)
Truth be told, the anti-inflammatory diet may not have such a catchy name (the South Beach diet is sexier sounding, I`ll admit), but it has some catchy benefits. So next time someone tells you “Eat this, it`s anti-inflammatory”, don`t give them the stink eye 🙂 .
Have a beautiful day!