What is an anti-inflammatory diet and how it can help reduce your pain?
We all know that the typical American diet is full of preservatives and highly processed foods. Well, it turns out that this type of diet cannot only leave a mark on your belly, but it also put your body at super high levels of inflammation. Now, inflammation is a good thing when it is controlled, when it happens locally, or acutely secondary to an injury or infection, but it is harmful when it occurs in the whole body.
As you will see below, systemic inflammation is a function of excessive “pro-inflammatory” diet and a lack of an “anti-inflammatory” diet.
So, which food sources in the diet promote inflammation?
- Most breakfast cereals
- Refined sugar
- Flour products
- Increased Omega-6 fatty acids (from corn, sunflower, salt flower, peanut, and cottonseed oils)
- Elevated Omega-6 fatty acids (Farmed-raised fish and grain-fed meats)
Anti-inflammatory vitamins and supplements that promote inflammation if lacking in our diet:
- Vitamin D
What does this mean to me? More than ten studies are showing that chronic inflammation is a driver of most chronic degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis, pain, atherosclerosis (fat deposition in the artery walls), and other severe conditions such as stroke, cancer, etc. Also, pain researchers have found that certain nerve fibers that transmit pain will get activated (and thus cause pain) when the local tissue environment is “inflammatory.” And, on the other hand, when the local climate is “anti-inflammatory,” then these nerves will be inhibited and will work better in modulating and healing any injury.
It is essential to mention that chronic systemic inflammation does not occur overnight and that once the body has reached this stage, it has exposed to multiple “hits” caused by the “pro-inflammatory” diet. Take into consideration that not only the diet but also the lack of sleep, the stress, the absence of exercise, etc. However, food is the leading cause since the nutrients we ingest become the building block of our body (our chemistry).
Let’s see what our typical diet is and where we need to go.
Typical American diet:
- 60% of our calories come from sugar, flour, and refined seed oils
- 20% of our calories come from meats.
- 10% of our calories come from dairy products.
- 10% of our calories come from fruits and vegetables.
Don’t get stressed; the solution is simple.
- Keep the chicken, fish, and meat intake about the same.
- Increase fruit and vegetable intake and use it to replace refined sugars and flour products.
- Keep dairy products intake about the same.
If you don’t like eating fruits and vegetables or don’t have the time to eat the recommended 10-15 portions of these per day, then consider a whole fruit and vegetable-based product like Juice Plus, which provides not only vitamins but also phytonutrients and antioxidants to fight systemic inflammation.
Here is a list from the University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine Department.
These are the foot of foods that affect inflammation:
- Foods high in omega-3 fats
Coldwater fish (salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel)
Ground flax seeds or flax oil
Leafy green vegetables
- Foods high in antioxidants
Yellow, orange, and red vegetables (peppers, carrots)
Dark leafy greens (Spinach, Romaine lettuce)
Black and green teas
Allium vegetables (onions, garlic)
- Foods high in fiber
- Spices that contain anti-inflammatory compounds