When we think of inflammation from the outside we think flushed redness, swelling, burning pain and heat but what about internally?
Chronic Inflammation is your body's way of saying, 'don't worry, I'm healing you.' It's the natural process of your immune system switching into gear and bringing more nourishment directly to the source of the problem. Whether it's helping to heal a wound, protect us from infection or heal a broken bone then all is well and good.
But sometimes when our body's chronically inflamed, there is no real cause and this is when our body can become susceptible to disease such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurodegenerative disease. Here are the five major culprits...
- Little or no exercise
- Genetic make-up
- Toxins (such as second-hand smoke)
- Poor diet
Fear not, with the right strategy and the right mind set you CAN help combat this problem. The Anti-Inflammatory Diet is the perfect solution. Not only will this way of eating help tackle chronic inflammation but it will also give you more energy, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, fibre AND help you lose weight.
You can't really argue with that, can you? Here's everything you need to know about The Anti-Inflammatory Diet ...
What is The Anti-Inflammatory Diet and how does it work?
Clinical nutritionist and health expert, Yvonne Bishop-Weston says, "All those health problems which end in an ‘itis’ including arthritis, colitis and dermatitis are know to be based on inflammation but many other conditions such as cardiovascular disease, some cancers and Alzheimer’s disease are now also thought to have inflammation as one of the factors."
This is where The Anti-Inflammatory Diet comes in. It's philosophy is based on two principles, fat and sugar. "Some fats are considered to be pro and some anti-inflammatory," says Yvonne. Gorging down food with bad fats can be detrimental to our health but healthy fats such as organic whole milk, butter, eggs and coconut oil are just a few examples of 'fatty foods' that CAN actually be beneficial for us.
And now to sugar! Eating high sugar food (and drink) releases more sugar than we can burn, absorbing into the bloodstream, creating a high then leading us to an ensuing crash (hello 4pm crash).
This in itself can trigger inflammation. Yvonne says, "You may also can feel tired, lacking in concentration, more prone to headaches and craving more sugar to repeat the destructive process."
Doesn't sound all that great if you ask us. Ladies, here's to a new way of eating...
What foods should you eat?
When it comes to diets, eating all the right foods and drinks can be tricky. But with this diet there's actually tons of flexibility! Here are the main points to keep in mind - trust us, it's not as daunting as it sounds.
Omega-3: Everyone knows Omega- 3's are great for protecting your brain, heart and skin but did you know that Omega-3 fatty acids are the most anti-inflammatory fat of them all? But unfortunately that's exactly what the modern diet is lacking in...So time to change all that.
You can get omega-3's from oily fish, nuts, seeds (such as flax, hemp and chia) and some plants. If you're not a fish person supplements are a good option. When choosing, go for fish oil that comes from small sized fish and is purified (to prevent contaminants from the sea).
A good one to consider is krill oil, which is easier to produce from clean water and more easily absorbed in the body. If you're vegetarian plant-based omega-3 supplements are also available such as Udo's Choice Ultimate Oil Blend. For those who aren't we recommend Vitabiotic's Ultra Krill Oil or their antioxidant rich Immunace Extra.
Oils: Choose the best quality culinary oils for your cooking. "Buy them in glass rather than plastic (which can leach hormone disrupting chemicals) and store the delicate, easily damaged anti-inflammatory oils in the fridge," says Yvonne. These include sunflower, sesame, hemp and flax.
Also, be aware of oil smoke points. Cooking oils that have a low smoke point at higher temperatures is all kinds of bad. Coconut oil, avocado oil or even full-fat organic butter are best for high temperature cooking. Use other oils such as olive as a dressing, sauce or marinade instead.
Herbs and spices: Did you know the plant compounds in herbs and spices help to dwindle down inflammation and prevent further infection? They're not just good for taste - they're practically like medicine to the body!
Leading nutritionist, Alice Mackintosh says, "Herbs and spices are potently anti-inflammatory – chili, ginger, black pepper and star anise should be eaten with regularity but with endless research about how powerful turmeric can be in protecting us from inflammatory reactions that's the spice that should be on top of your list."
Carbohydrates?: Choose your carbs whole-grain and slow-release. "Choosing foods such as wholemeal rye bread, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta and the more nutritious, less processed, grains such as quinoa and buckwheat will help you get the most out of your diet," says Yvonne. They key here is to avoid highly refined foods such as white bread, white pasta and white rice.
Fruit and veggies: It's no surprise that fruit and vegetables are the core to our wellbeing. Yvonne explains that the "antioxidants from vegetables and fruits are vitally important as they not only help to repair daily damage in the body but they also protect fats from our diets, keeping them in a healthful form."
She recommends having at least five portions of veggies and two portions of fruit a day including orange, red, purple and green leafy types.
But don't worry - you don't have to go cold turkey! Try working these principles into your diet daily and do what works for you and your lifestyle. One of the simplest ways to start is by cutting out certain foods...
What foods should you avoid?
While making sure we're eating the right foods is a great start there are also the wrong foods to be weary of too. So now that we know what we need to eat what foods should we avoid to prevent another inflammatory cascade?
Here are the three basic rules...
Avoid unhealthy fats: Bad fat equals bad health. Before reaching for that cheese and yogurt take the time to think of what fats and sugars go into it. Is it highly processed? Does it contain loads of additives? How pure is it?
Yvonne recommends,"Minimizing saturated fats from high fat cheese, high fat meat and processed fats (such as hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats).
Buy free range where possible: Free range may be slightly more expensive than the cheaper meats available but who wouldn't want to invest in their health? When choosing meat and dairy make sure it's organic and free range to avoid toxic chemicals and ensure it's quality. And don't forget to say goodbye to processed meats and deep-fried foods! They're never a good thing.
Avoid highly refined foods: Steer well clear of high sugar foods including white refined versions of the starchy carbs such as bread, pasta and rice. "The higher the sugar content the bigger the sugar high and likely inflammatory insulin release", says Yvonne. Find your love for whole grains and get munching!
What you should drink?
Ladies forget your Diet Coke and morning lattes. Cutting out fizzy drinks, coffee, black tea and alcohol will help avoid spiking your blood sugar levels which could also trigger your insulin levels to be out of whack.
Alice says, " Instead go for green tea or matcha powder, chamomile tea as these have also been shown to help encourage anti-inflammation in the body and avoid sweet juices in favor of green veggie juices with kale, spinach, cucumber, fennel, lemon, ginger and coconut water."
You can even try making your own DIY smoothies and juices right at home! It's a great way to get a punch of nutrients on-the-go. Here's a quick and simple recipe to get you started.
Feel free to switch it up by adding more anti-inflammatory fruits and veggies into the mix!
What are the benefits of this diet?
Overall, the diet is about educating yourself on the best anti-inflammatory foods and making the right choices. Yup. It's as easy as that! So by enjoying a healthy balanced diet, avoiding processed foods and upping your intake of the best anti-Inflammators your health is thought to be at it's most optimal level. And who can really say no to that?
Yvonne agrees, "By lessening processed and refined foods and cutting down on saturated fats and sugar you are more likely to have better energy, clearer skin, better mood and concentration and find it easier to be your ideal weight. You may also lessen inflammatory processes in the body and protect your health not only now but also for the future." If that's not a good enough excuse to take on the diet, we're not sure what is!
Are you joining the anti-inflammatory foodies? Tweet us @wewomenCA!
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