Wondering if you should eat an anti-inflammatory diet? Read on. Here, The Alignment Studio Nutritional Therapist Tara Doherty tackles the topic of chronic inflammation, its causes, and the best anti-inflammatory foods to add to your diet.
When we look at the key diseases that plague our society – arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease – we notice that inflammation is the common denominator that ties all these diseases together.
Not all inflammation is bad. When you cut yourself, the area around the wound becomes inflamed and signals to the body’s immune system to activate healing and prevent infection. This is acute inflammation and it is absolutely normal.
Chronic inflammation is the really bad guy
Chronic inflammation results from exposure to toxins in our environment, eating heated and rancid vegetable oils (trans fats), a diet high in sugar and grains and living a stressful lifestyle combined with not enough sleep. If you are carrying some unwanted weight, this may also be due to inflammation. Inflammation creates excess insulin – the hormone responsible for shovelling calories into our fat cells – and this is definitely something most of us are trying to avoid!
When inflammation is triggered, it is systemic and affects the whole body. By combatting inflammation with an anti-inflammatory diet, not only can the symptoms of these diseases be alleviated, but we may even see them disappear.
The best anti-inflammatory foods
To enjoy greater health, try incorporating the following foods into your anti-inflammatory diet:
- Bok Choy
- Wild Caught Salmon
- Bone Broth
- Coconut Oil
- Chia Seeds
- Green Leafy Vegetables
Including these foods will elevate your health and reduce inflammation; however, we also need to focus on eliminating the key behaviours and foods instrumental in creating chronic inflammation.
Treating chronic inflammation through nutrition
The mind and body are an integrated system, so how we act and what we think, eat and feel are directly related to our health. Psychological stress can cause excessive inflammation; however, the biggest contributor is actually processed oil. Any kind of oil that’s been fried or cooked or treated at high temperatures is going to impact inflammation throughout the entire body.
Most processed foods, including chips, biscuits, pizza and even store-bought trail mix may contain these oils. Look for the word “hydrogenated” on labels or oils such as safflower, peanut and sunflower. Cut these oils out and replace them with good fats such as avocado, coconut and extra virgin olive oil.
Cooking with fresh produce and whole foods is one of the best daily practices we can do for wellbeing. It’s really important to understand that particular cooking methods can either benefit or destroy the nutritional density of our food. Focus on finding the oils that are hiding out in all the snacks and meals you eat and you’ll be well on your way to cutting out inflammation.
Get into the habit of asking yourself, “Does this food support the body and mind I require to live the life I’m trying to create?”
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