Hi everyone! I hope you are all having a wonderful day. In this post, I am going to be explaining inflammation, what it means, and how adopting an anti-inflammatory diet can help alleviate the damage inflammation causes.
Many chronic illnesses began to emerge in the United States after WWII, when there was a “nutrient transition” and an increase in environmental toxin exposure. The immune system among many people was on overdrive with these new exposures, known as noxious stimuli, and the constant exposure in these individuals led to chronic inflammation. Around this time, there were decreases in physical activity trends, decreases in home cooking and fruit and vegetable intake due to convenient fast food, and increased availability of processed food, frozen food, and TV dinners, which now we know are detrimental to health.
In today’s world, the American diet has evolved from what we began to see after WWII, and unfortunately the vast majority of Americans have a diet that’s full of refined carbs, added sugars, and saturated fat, and low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This diet is the recipe for inflammation in the body. 50% of the immune system lies within the gastrointestinal tract. If the GI tract is inflamed from pro-inflammatory foods (such as meat, dairy, sugar, foods with high saturated fat content, alcohol, artificial preservatives, and processed carbohydrates), molecules called cytokines communicate between cells to initiate more inflammation, which ultimately leads to increased inflammation all over the body because cytokines travel via the bloodstream.
Chronic inflammation happens when our bodies are inflamed from the GI tract, and basically the body’s immune cells are attacking us from the inside out. Though it can be tricky to assess whether you have chronic inflammation, here are some ways it can manifest as:
- Digestive problems or discomfort such as IBS symptoms, bloating, gas, constipation
- Irregular periods
- Rheumatoid arthritis
The good news is that inflammation can be resolved via diet (in most cases). Adopting the anti-inflammatory diet is a great first step in the way to recovery, and if you need extra help in making an anti-inflammatory meal plan, Vas and Dr. Kelley would be more than happy to assist, so feel free to reach out! When your body is free of inflammation, the balance of your gut will be much happier, allowing for optimal health which will make you feel your best!
Here’s some anti-inflammatory tips to incorporate into your everyday plan:
Have more of these:
- Vegetables: contain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that are important in establishing good immunity, good gut bacteria (refer here for more on gut health), and for fighting inflammation
- Fruit: fruit sugar, unlike refined sugars, provide our bodies with important nutrients and have a high water content, which helps in hydration and assisting with decreasing inflammation
- Fermented foods: foods like kimchi, pickled vegetables, kombucha, apple cider vinegar and sauerkraut are awesome for establishing a healthy gut microbiome. Their probiotics assist in gut repair and maintenance.
- Whole grains: try and implement whole grain pastas, quinoa, rice, amaranth, barley and farro as substitutes for refined grain.
- Plant based protein: lentils, beans, soy products, nuts and seeds have wonderful anti-inflammatory properties, and contain important minerals to aid in gut health. Additionally, they contain more fiber than animal products, which allow us to feel fuller longer.
- Omega-6 fatty acids: foods high in saturated fat contain high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, which are inflammatory and reverse the good that omega-3 fatty acids do. Focus on eating omega-3 in higher quantities than omega-6, which you can do by increasing your consumption of avocados, nuts, seeds, salmon, coconut, and olive oil. Try to avoid cooking with vegetable oil, and minimize fatty meat and dairy consumption.
- Sugar: sugar causes tissue damage and is extremely inflammatory because it promotes insulin resistance, thus creating inflammation in the liver, which can also generate insulin insensitivity.
- Alcohol: impairs anti-inflammatory molecules, damages nutrient absorption, promotes gut inflammation, and impairs the body’s detoxification response.
- Animal products: meat produces TMAO, an inflammatory compound which changes the gut microbiome and feeds inflammation to every part of the body. The pathogens found in raw meat still carry over in small amounts when cooked, so it is best to limit meat consumption in general. Dairy is linked to higher inflammation and chronic disease as well.
I hope that you’ll take these tips and begin on your anti-inflammatory journey today! Even if you don’t experience symptoms of inflammation, it will never hurt to take preventative measures. Resolving inflammation with healthy food choices is done one meal at a time, I promise you can do it and your body will thank you! Again, please don’t hesitate to set up a Holistic Kitchen consult here at ESO, we want to help you prioritize nutrition and overall wellness to make you feel your very best.