Anti-inflammatory food and diet is not a complex concept. Namely, eating food as how nature is given to us without unnecessary process and chemical ingredients.
In 2018, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report. CDC estimated that 50 million Americans have chronic pain. In 2018, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released its own report saying that 11 million Americans have chronic pain. We believe that your food is the source to fight this inflammation instead of prescribed medicine. The medicine comes with dangerous side effects. Always try first healing naturally. Our body has the ability to heal itself.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a process that your body responses to protect against infections, injuries, harmful pathogens, and irritants. It is a natural response from your immune system. The body releases antibodies, proteins, and increased blood flow to damaged body tissues and body cells.
Scientists categorize inflammation in these two types – acute and chronic.
Acute inflammation is known for a short-term period and the major symptoms include pain, redness, swelling, heat, and loss of function. Prolonged inflammation is known as Chronic. Chronic inflammation is associated with diseases such as autoimmune diseases, diabetes, arthritis, etc. In fact, short term inflammation is necessary for the body to heal, but chronic inflammation can lead to other illnesses.
What food causes inflammation?
There are some foods that contribute to inflammation in your body. Actually, it is not surprising to people because we live in a world of processed foods.
1. Food made from refined and bleached flours
It includes white bread, crackers, pasta, cookies, and donuts. Refined flour is already low in fiber and nutrients. Please check the ingredients. Try to buy products that are made from unrefined and unbleached flour.
2. Drinks with white processed sugar
Soft drinks, sugary fruit juices, and energy drinks.
Please check the ingredients. It might not say sugar or white sugar, because the name is disguised with chemical names. They are processed sugar. Some examples are Dextrose, Sucrose, Maltose, Maltodextrin, Glucose, etc.
The best way is to buy products saying words that you could understand such as organic cane sugar, coconut sugar. If the food is made from natural ingredients, you could read all ingredients without wondering what those names are.
Microwave popcorns, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, sugary and salty snacks.
4. Food that has high in saturated and trans fat
What does anti-inflammatory mean?
It is a substance or treatment that blocks the cause of inflammation in the body. It would help reducing swelling and pains.
Let’s start with eating the whole food, natural food, and low in saturated fat.
1. Vegetables and fruit
Eat fresh organic vegetables and fruit. Have you heard Phytonutrients? Fresh fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients that are also the source of vibrant colors in fruit and vegetables. Phytonutrients have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Kale, Spinach, Lettuce, Dandelion, Chard, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Bok Choy, Avocados, Peppers, Mushrooms, Collards
Tomatoes, Berries (Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries), Oranges, Cherries, Grapes
Legumes are a good source of protein and they do not contain saturated fat. You could replace red meat with legumes. Besides, legumes are much cheaper than red meat.
Legumes include Lentils, Beans, Chickpeas, and Split peas.
3. Whole Grain food
Whole grains are packed with proteins, fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and B vitamins. Whole-grain kernels comprise of 3 parts called Bran, Endosperm, and Germ. On the contrary, refined grain removes Bran and Germ. It leaves only Endosperm. This is why refined grain is far less nutrient.
Whole grains include Buckwheat, Millet, Oats, Brown Rice, Bulgur, Quinoa, Wild Rice, and Barley
4. Foods that contain Omega 3 fatty acids.
Our body doesn’t make Omega 3 fatty acids on its own, so we will have to get them from the diet.
These are the best sources of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines, Lake trout, Herring, Tuna, Orange Roughy, Anchovies, Flaxseeds, Chia seeds, Walnuts, and Olive Oil
5. Dark chocolate and Cocoa
Cacao seeds or beans come from the cacao tree. Those beans are fermented, dried, and finally roasted. After that process, it is called Cocoa. Cocoa is a good source of polyphenols that help reduce inflammation.
Add Cocoa powder in smoothies and other drinks. Or Eat dark chocolate.
Curcumin is the main ingredient in turmeric. We always recommend consumption of the turmeric in the food rather than taking a high dose of the supplement. Be creative adding turmeric in your diet. Curry is a popular dish that uses cumin and turmeric. There are lots of recipes that contain turmeric and add them to your regular diet.
7. Green Tea
Green tea contains flavonoids. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidant agents. The bitter taste when you drink green tea tells you that it contains flavonoids. Black tea also contains flavonoids. Teas come with caffeine, so moderate tea consumption is necessary.
Tips for Anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle
In the beginning, it might feel inconvenient if you are used to buying processed food for quick meals. The anti-inflammatory diet is simple. It focuses on eating whole natural food such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh vegetables and fruits are good sources of antioxidants that reduce the formation of free radicals. If you cook these fresh vegetables and fruit, you would not get the same effects.
Add foods that have good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, olive oil, and flaxseed. This food help reduces inflammatory proteins in the body. Omega 3 fatty acids also help decrease triglycerides.
Probably you heard the Mediterranean diet. This diet mainly focuses on eating plant-based food with a healthy oil like extra virgin olive oil. Moderate amounts of seafood and dairy are also part of this diet. When it comes to pasta, bread, and cereals, choose carbohydrate option for whole grains. Add herbs and spices to boost flavor and lessen the salt.
Breakfast – Oatmeal, Greek yogurt with berries and nuts.
Lunch – Tuna sandwich with whole-grain bread, lettuce, olives and tomatoes
Dinner – Baked Salmon, fresh green leafy vegetable salads with olive oils, raisins and pumpkin seeds.
Add foods and oils that have monounsaturated fat such as olive oil, nuts, and seeds in your diet.
Drink enough water
Establish a healthy sleep lifestyle.
Always talk to your doctor if you consider an herbal supplement to reduce inflammation
Once you understand the concept of eating the whole and natural food, it should not be difficult to change your diet. Anti-inflammatory food and lifestyle would become your second nature. We are spoiled for convenience eating junk food and fast food. The Mediterranean diet focuses on fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils. When you choose fruits and vegetables, select fruits and vegetables that contain high antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce free radicals. Avoid sugary soft drinks. Instead, try a tea that contains polyphenols. Cakes and cookies are tempting, but minimize your sugar intake at all costs. Aim for overall health. A healthy diet and less pain will improve your quality of life.