What is an Anti-inflammation Diet?

By on 02/07/2014
anti-inflammatory-food-pyramid

So the other day, whist complaining about my doctor, I mentioned the anti-inflammation diet.

What is it? A diet that mutes  internet trolls?

No! (But wow, I wish that existed!)

Inflammation is what happens in the body as an immune system response to sickness, trauma, etc. A sore throat is a type of inflammation, as is a swollen ankle after a fall. This is actually a good thing, as it signifies the body’s healing response to the trauma, fighting the effects of an infection or injury and helping the area recover.

But there is another type of inflammation, called chronic inflammation.

This happens when the body’s immune system gets out of control and starts attacking areas of the body that are not troublesome, like the lungs, liver, colon,  or any area really. It causes inflammation when there is no need. The results are serious illnesses like asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.

Another trigger to chronic inflammation is a chronic injury, like my back. I now have 2 herniated discs, SI Joint Dysfunction, and Piriformis Syndrome. Because these areas of my body are not in perfect shape anymore, sometimes my immune response will sort of go crazy, and cause extreme inflammation in one or all of these areas. But because these injuries are now “old” and mostly under control, the inflammation actually does more harm than good. It causes swelling, irritation and extreme pain. But there is no infection to fight and there is no trauma that can be treated.

It’s like dropping bombs on the battleground of a war that ended years ago.

My back has a mostly dormant injury that is simply agitated by my immune system’s inflammatory response.

So when my doctor asked me if I knew how to eat in such a way as to reduce this chronic inflammation, he wasn’t just blowing smoke. He had a point (but not to “prescribe” Juice Plus!! Gah!).

More and more research is suggesting that an anti-inflammatory diet is beneficial to most people struggling with any kind of health issue, as more and more research is showing the inflammation acts as an irritant or even a cause in so many health problems.

So what is the anti-inflammatory diet?

Well, it’s not a diet (though it is so healthy many people do end up losing weight, but it’s not the point).

It is strategically learning which foods cause inflammation and should thus always be avoided, as well as learning which fight inflammation and should thus always be eaten in abundance.

Dr. Andrew Weil (a Harvard-trained natural and preventive medicine physician) is amazing and a forerunner in this area. For and in-depth read on the anti-inflammatory diet, read his article here.

From drweil.com

From drweil.com

Here is an overview/summary:

These are the worst foods that should be avoided at all costs:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Processed wheats
  • Processed sugars
  • Processed oils like margarine, vegetable shortening
  • Processed foods (good-bye frozen food aisle)

…and foods that should be consumed in moderation:

  • Butter
  • Processed high fat dairy
  • High fat animal proteins
  • Pasta/white rice

…and what you should eat:

  • Avocados
  • Beans
  • Brown rice
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Fish like Herring, Black Cod, Salmon
  • Fruits
  • Ginger (added to foods, or as a supplement)
  • Natural, organic cheese/yogurt
  • Nuts/Nut butters (no, not Nutter Butters! Too bad!)
  • Olive Oil
  • Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Turmeric (added to foods, or as a supplement)
  • Veggies

In addition to these do/don’t ingredients, this is another “rule” of the diet:

  • A meal should be comprised of 40 to 50 percent carbs, 30 percent fat, and 20 percent protein.

 

See, not so hard. It’s basically just eating whole, real foods, and avoiding anything processed or high in fats (bye bye steak!).

But as a result, if you have chronic pain (like me!), arthritis, asthma, or probably anything ending in “-itis”, this diet may really help reduce pain and symptoms as it encourages the body’s inflammatory response to chill the heck out.

About Anna

Hi there! This is my little blog project where I am trying to learn more about health, wellness and living a balanced life, while also sharing a bit of my silly side as well. By "silly" I mean sarcastic. And by "a bit" I mean way too much. Sorry about that.♥ - Anna

One Comment

  1. Julie Meek

    02/13/2014 at 9:22 am

    Great post Anna! It is a shame more doctors won’t do C-reactive protein blood tests to identify levels of chronic inflammation. I think it would encourage people to eat this way!

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