The Anti-Inflammation Diet

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Reasons to go on an anti-inflammation diet - Vitality and Food

Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancers, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, dermatitis, arthritis and any other condition that ends in ‘itis’.

What characteristic do these diseases have in common? And how can the anti-inflammation diet help you both manage and prevent them?

Louise Comerford is currently completing a MSc in nutrition and she is keen to share her enthusiasm and knowledge with people. With her passion for food, science and the healthiness of body and mind, she hopes to inspire others to make small changes with huge benefits to their lives.

 

Chronic inflammation has been named and shamed as a culprit for increasing the risk in a large amount of devastating and increasingly common diseases. It has even been speculated to be one of the main factors behind early aging signs and why some people just can’t lose weight.

Unfortunately, it is not obvious if you have chronic inflammation levels in your body and you don’t have to be showing symptoms for it to be having a negative impact on your health.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a rush of blood and release of immune cells to an area of infection, damage or irritation. It didn’t evolve just to cause our body havoc; it originally evolved to help us fight infections and repair wounds.

Chronic inflammation is where our bodies become so overwhelmed from being bombarded by inflammatory triggers, that it is unable to switch off the process. We then remain in a constant state of inflammation, which has devastating effects on our health.

What can cause chronic inflammation?

–       Stress!!!!!

–       Lack of exercise

–       Lack of sleep

–       Smoking

–       Exposure to pollution/ pesticides/ cleaning products

–       Exposure to allergens

–       Poor food choices

The Anti-inflammation diet

This isn’t a diet that promises to help you drop a dress size within a certain time frame (although it’s likely to help you lose weight!).

It isn’t a diet with strict meal plans and lots of rules.

It is a guide to help you choose anti-inflammatory foods which can improve your health, and avoid pro-inflammatory foods which can cause you harm.

Not only can it a help a healthy person to prevent disease, it can also help relieve symptoms for those with an inflammatory disease!

Chose anti-inflammatory foods

Omega 3 Fats

Famous for a reason, omega 3 is extremely good at reducing inflammation.

The best sources of omega 3 are fish and shellfish, particularly oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel (buy organic to get the highest levels of omega 3 and avoid nasty toxins).

If you don’t eat fish, you can get omega 3 from vegan sources. The best vegan sources are found in walnuts and flax seeds, but it can also be found in some vegetables such as kale and broccoli. Read more about omega 3 here.

Monounsaturated fats

Fats found in olive oil, avocadoes, seeds and nuts are also known to reduce inflammation.

Organic and free-range animal products

Organic and free-range animals freely roam their land, eating lots of grass. They have lower levels of omega 6 and saturated fat in their meat than the animals bred in fed-lot farms, and are free from antibiotics and hormones.

A high omega-6: omega 3 ratio has a pro-inflammatory effect. Whilst we need a small amount of omega -6, it’s found in a lot of food and we often consume far too much of it. It is difficult to eat enough Omega 3 to balance the scale, so effort needs to be made to reduce omega 6 intakes.

Fruits and Vegetables 

Rich in those wonderful antioxidants we hear so much about, fruits and vegetables are great for reducing inflammation. The key is to enjoy a variation of colours and ‘eat the rainbow’.  Brilliant examples are blueberries, kiwis, oranges, mangoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers and those dark leafy greens! Read more about antioxidants here.

Herbs and Spices

Not only do they give a kick of flavour to your food, they are also packed full of antioxidants. Herbs include rosemary, oregano, mint and herbal teas.  Peppery spices like chillies and cayenne pepper are great, but you don’t have to like spicy food. Tumeric, ginger, and cinnamon are milder spices with just as much goodness.

Water!  

Drink plenty of it!

Avoid pro-inflammatory foods

Trans fats

These are nasty fats, known to promote inflammation, obesity and resistance to insulin. They are found in hydrogenated oils, margarine and vegetable shortening. Deep fried is also usually fried in hydrogenated oil. They are also likely to be found in mass produced cakes, biscuits and pastries. So, check the labels of your food and watch out for these.

Vegetable cooking oils

Common vegetable oils such as corn oil and sunflower oil are very high in Omega-6. A great replacement is olive oil.

Sugar

Peaks in blood sugar cause inflammation. Sugar has several titles including corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, golden syrup, maltose, and sucrose. So watch out for these on your food labels, they can creep up on a lot of unexpected items. Read more about sugar here.

Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white pasta, white rice, white bread all produce inflammatory peaks in blood sugar, and have also been depleted of vitamin B and fibre. It is best to stick to wholemeal bread and pasta, brown and wild rice, and try some other wholesome grains like oats, quinoa, rye and millet. Read more about carbohydrates here.

Processed Meat

Research has shown that the link between processed meat and cancer is strong! This includes any meat that has been smoked, cured, salted or preserved chemically. Ham, sausage and salami are prime examples.

Artificial anything

Anything that isn’t natural should ring alarm bells. Avoid artificial sweeteners, colourings, flavourings and preservatives.

Food allergies

Consuming food you are allergic to triggers inflammation. Food allergies and sensitivities often go ignored or undiscovered, common examples are lactose and gluten. If you suspect that you may have a food allergy, it is best to find out by eliminating the food from your diet, whilst ensuring you are still eating a balanced diet.

Stress!

Although not a food, it is such an important factor that it is worth mentioning!  Following this diet should help you be able to more effectively manage life’s little stresses. If there is something else you can do to reduce your stress and enjoy life a little more, do it. It will make an amazing difference to your health!

Do you suffer from an inflammatory disease? Have you tried the anti-inflammatory diet? What have you found? We love your comments, please share them below.

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Ania NowickiThe Anti-Inflammation Diet

Comments 6

  1. Marit - Superfoodmama

    Great post Ania! Can I add, food intolerances (or IgG allergies) are very common and can also be a major contributor to chronic inflammation?

    1. Post
      Author
      Ania

      Absolutely! That’s why it’s so important to get in tune with your body by getting tested or food journaling with the support of a specialist. Thanks for highlighting it, Marit!Ā 

  2. Malgo

    I just read your weekly email and the bit about drinking lots of water really resonated with me. I have always believed myself to be one of those people who drinks lots, but your article made me realise that I am not drinking enough! In this recent warm weather, i have found myself to be lethargic in the morning and have started to pick up a coffee on the way to work (this coming from a person who has never been a fan of coffee!!!). So I think the conclusion here is to nip the new-found coffee addication in the bud and drink more water!!! THANKYOU šŸ™‚

    1. Post
      Author
      Ania

      Brilliant! That’s why I write these posts; to make you more aware of potential problems and your options.Ā šŸ™‚ Btw, yesterday, in the heat, I drank almost 5 litres of water! (I usually drink 2.5-3L.)

  3. Lucy

    This is an excellent and very concise article which I shall be sharing! I have a chronic inflammatory disease (ankylosing spondylitis) and I can vouch for the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet. I had tried on off over the years to cut out inflammatory foods but never with much success. A few months ago I went on a complete anti-inflammatory diet and upped my intake of omega-3 and other beneficial foods and the results are amazing. I had previously controlled my condition with drugs and nasty immune-killing injections which left me so fatigued and drained. Now I can go weeks without needing and injection and I can't remember the last time I took one of my anti-inflammatory pills! I still have a way to go to completely get rid of all medication-but it is SO amazing to find I can control this horrible painful condition with diet alone.

    Interestingly I've also had to cut out the nightshade family of vegetables which you do mention some as beneficial foods (white potatoes,peppers,tomatoes). Although they're not inflammatory foods in some people they can cause an inflammatory response due to sensitivities to them. I found I was sensitive to these foods and cut them out. I think sometimes you have to go through a process of elimination to work out what is best for yourself.

    I also echo the drinking lots of water-I've always drunk 2-3L a day and often when asked what I'd like to drink and my response is "just water" I get "really??". I love just water but to some people that's odd!!

    1. Post
      Author
      Ania

      Quite right, Lucy! And thanks for pointing out the fact that you have sensitivities to deadly nightshade vegetables. Indeed, the post mentions allergies/intolerances which can trigger inflammatory responses.

      And, WE LOVE WATER!! If more people drank enough water I’m sure we’d see a massive drop in illness in this country and across the globe!

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