The term “anti-inflammatory” is thrown around like glitter confetti yet, most people have no clue what it means!
And to be completely honest, I am not sure that I fully understood the concept until I spent many years studying functional nutrition, so, let’s break it down plain and simple.
When you hear the word inflammation, you might picture a swollen knee, a bruised ankle or a scraped elbow. While those are definitely signs of inflammation or trauma to the body, they are signs of short term inflammation. Long term, or chronic inflammation within the body is not quite as obvious. If our body is experiencing chronic inflammation, that stress may manifest in the form of chronic fatigue, joint pain, headaches or constant sinus issues to name a few.
Eating poor quality food day in and day out will slowly cause our body to deteriorate from the inside out. Our body was never meant to live off processed foods and added sugar. Think about this, would you put unleaded fuel in a Ferrari? No!! Would it still run on that fuel? Sure, for a little bit at least but eventually if we repeatedly fueled the Ferrari with low-grade gasoline, the engine would start to gunk up and the car would completely breakdown. Our bodies are the exact same way.
I want to share a real-life example that might resonate with you. I had a client who came in to my office a few months ago and she said “It’s so hard for me to make healthy changes to my diet because I live with my best friend who is so thin and she eats junk food ALL day long.”
For starters, it’s important to note that thinness does NOT equal optimal health!! However, here is the real kicker. Her best friend actually came to see me a month later and yes, she was quite thin, but she had a face full of acne, she did not have a bowel movement every day, her cholesterol panel was a disaster and her body composition (muscle to fat ratio) was less than ideal. These are ALL signs of chronic inflammation!!!
Simply put, an anti-inflammatory diet is premium fuel for our body. It is one of the easiest ways to improve our health and the function of our body because it is something we can completely control.
Are you ready to eat in a way that supports total body health?
Here are my top 5 best tips to follow an anti-inflammatory diet:
🙅🏾♀️Avoid refined carbohydrates and added sugar. Sure - I know a bagel is so easy in the morning, a sandwich is convenient for lunch and that big bowl of crunchy cereal before bed can be so satisfying. However, these foods are most notorious for causing chronic inflammation in the body. Instead, the bulk of your diet should consist of real food that does not come with a list of ingredients the length of a Harry Potter novel.
🔄Rotate Your Food! I know it might be simple to eat the same foods each day but the more diverse your diet, the more diverse the bacteria in your gut will become. The more diverse the bacteria in your gut, the better your body will be able to fight disease. Plus, rotation prevents you from consuming too much of certain lesser quality foods.
🌈Eat a Rainbow. The more color you eat, the more your body will be able to fight oxidative damage. Aim to consume at least one red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple food each day. You may find this to be easiest if you aim for 2-3 different colors at each meal. An example might be a breakfast that includes scrambled eggs with red peppers. A smoothie for lunch that includes a banana and blueberries and a dinner that includes eggplant, bright orange sweet potatoes and a beautiful green spinach salad.
👀Focus on Functional Foods. Choose foods and spices that actually serve a purpose in the body. It’s actually easier than you might think! If you choose foods that come from the earth, you are automatically making this happen. Salmon protects our brain, broccoli helps us to detoxify, turmeric is a spice is famous for its ability to fight inflammation. The list goes on and on.
🔽Reverse the Pyramid. Most of us reading this article were raised to follow the traditional Food Guide Pyramid when it came to making food choices. Sadly, we as healthcare practitioners eventually found that this only lead to health issues. Dr. Andrew Weil, a physician famous for his ability to use food as medicine, created an anti-inflammatory food guide pyramid which is essentially our traditional pyramid shaken up and put back together. Not only does this show you which foods to eat in order to fight inflammation, but it also explains how much to consume.
I hope I have inspired you to start fighting disease with your fork. Cheers to a happier, healthier life through food!