The Anti Inflammatory Diet
What is an anti-inflammatory diet?
The anti-inflammatory diet is a meal plan which includes several ingredients known to assist in preventing inflammation. It is often equated with a typical Mediterranean diet. Low-grade chronic inflammation can be a symptom of several different conditions, and stem from factors such as doing too little exercise, or being stressed.
Inflammation is the bodys natural defence mechanism to fight off foreign bacteria, viruses and infections. The immune system will trigger an inflammatory response releasing white blood cells when it senses foreign organisms attacking a certain part of the body. In some cases, mainly autoimmunde disorders; the usually reliable immune system can trigger an infammatory response even when there is no sign of bacteria or viruses in the body. This means that the body is essentially trying to fight an infection that does not exist, which can then start to damage it's own tissues.
Anti inflammatory medications such as Naproxen are then prescribed to prevent the immune system from attacking it's own tissues and cause permament joint issues if left untreated.
What conditions can be helped with an anti-inflammatory diet?
Thanks to its ability to battle low-grade inflammation, an anti-inflammatory diet can address a key risk factor in many health issues and diseases.
The anti-inflammatory diet can help people with conditions such as arthritis, depression, heart disease, stroke, irritable bowel syndrome (ibs), asthma, Alzheimer's disease, gout, inflammatory bowel disease, Gastritis and various allergies.
It should be noted that the anti-inflammatory diet should not be seen as a cure for the conditions above, but it can help to reduce the number of flare-ups which are experienced. Even if an anti-inflammatory effect is not received, the healthy nature of the anti-inflammatory diet can still contribute towards a healthier lifestyle.
Anti-inflammatory foods to eat
For those considering switching to an anti-inflammatory diet, the good news is that there are plenty of foods to choose from! In general, foods which contain a proportionally high level of antioxidants and omega fatty acids are known to have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Among the foods which can offer anti-inflammatory properties are fruits such as apples, berries and cherries; which are all recognised as being high in antioxidants. You should also endeavour to eat vegetables such as artichokes, avocados, beans, broccoli, collard greens, dark green, kale, nuts, spinach and sweet potatoes. Whole grains - like brown rice and oats - are recognised for their antioxidants, while dark chocolate, with a cocoa content of around 75 per cent, is another beneficial food.
You can get your omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish such as anchovies, sardines, mackerel and salmon, as well as walnuts and flaxseed. Certain spices, such as turmeric, have also been hailed for their anti-inflammatory powers.
Foods that cause inflammation
In the same manner as you should look out for the right foods, when on the anti-inflammatory diet it is important to steer clear of foods which could actually worsen inflammation. Omega-6 fatty acids are certainly worth cutting down on as they are known to increase the production of inflammatory chemicals by the body. These foods include several types of:
- Red Meat
- Dairy products like milk, butter and cheese;
- Vegetable oils; and margarine
- Fried foods
- Carbohydrates such as white bread and pastries
You should also watch out for processed foods which contain refined grains or sugar, as well as snacks and some desserts.
Anti-inflammatory diet tips
Are you in the process of planning your new anti-inflammatory diet? Allow us to offer some tips:
Get greener! - It is time to get into the habit of stocking up with fruit and vegetables during your regular shop. This might be breaking the habit of a lifetime, but if you are serious about an anti-inflammatory diet, it is time to start purchasing some of the fruit and vegetables which are known to have anti-inflammatory effects. Pick a fruit you like and try to swap it for any unhealthy snacks which you might regularly indulge in.
Arm yourself with aqua! How many sugary drinks do you get through in a normal week? You might benefit considerably by swapping drinks such as pop or energy drinks with still or sparkling water. Whether it is tap water, or the mineral water variety, keeping topped up with water can help to fight inflammation.
Consider supplements - If you are finding it hard to get all your anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty oils in, you could consider taking supplements. Talk to your healthcare professional about products such as multivitamins and cold liver oil. They can offer convenience and cost-effectiveness for those who struggle to eat enough fruit and vegetables in a typical day.
Ditch the fast-food - How many meals do you make up at home? If your work lunches are typically full of meat and saturated fats, could you benefit from making a healthier alternative packed lunch at home? Think avocado and chicken sandwiches or fruit salads. There are also many yummy recipes for tinned sardines on toast. You might want to start lobbying for an office toaster!
Exercise more - OK, so it isn't strictly a diet tip, but exercising more can compliment a diet change perfectly, increasing your appetite and improving your sleep
We wish you all the best with your anti-inflammatory diet - and remember, stick at it!