Inflammation in the body causes or contributes to many debilitating, chronic illnesses — including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and even cancer.
Recent research finds that eating this way not only helps protect against certain diseases, but it also slows the aging process by stabilizing blood sugar and increasing metabolism.
Plus, although the goal is to optimize health, many people find they also lose weight by following an anti-inflammatory eating pattern. Here are 11 actionable steps you can take today.
1. Eat at least 25 grams of fiber every day.
A diet rich in fiber helps reduce inflammation by supplying naturally occurring anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods.
To get your fill of fiber, seek out whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The best sources include whole grains such as barley and oatmeal; vegetables like okra, eggplant, and onions; and a variety of fruits like bananas (3 grams of fiber per banana) and blueberries (3.5 grams of fiber per cup).
2. Eat a minimum of nine servings of vegetables and fruits every day
One “serving” is half a cup of a cooked fruit or vegetable or one cup of a raw leafy vegetable.
For an extra punch, you can add anti-inflammatory herbs and spices — such as turmeric and ginger — to your cooked fruits and vegetables to increase their antioxidant capacity. These herbs and spices contain beneficial molecules designed to decrease inflammation.
3. Eat four servings of both alliums and crucifers every week.
Alliums include garlic, scallions, onions, and leek, while crucifers refer to vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and mustard greens.
Because of their powerful antioxidant properties, consuming a weekly average of four servings of each can help lower your risk of cancer.
In addition, it sure can be pungent… but if you like the taste, I recommend eating a clove of garlic a day!
4. Limit saturated fat intake to 10 percent of your daily calories.
By keeping saturated fat low (that’s about 20 grams per 2,000 calories), you’ll help reduce the risk of heart disease.
You should also limit red meat to once per week and marinate it with herbs, spices, and tart, unsweetened fruit juices to reduce the toxic compounds formed during cooking.
5. Consume foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis — conditions that often have a high inflammatory process and inflammation at their roots.
Aim to eat lots of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like flax meal, walnuts, and beans such as kidney, navy, and soy. I also recommend taking a good-quality omega-3 supplement.
In addition, consume cold-water fish such as salmon, oysters, herring, mackerel, trout, sardines, and anchovies. This brings us to our next step:
6. Eat fish at least three times a week.
Choose both low-fat fish such as flounder and sole, and cold-water fish that contain healthy fats, like omega-3s such as the ones mentioned above.
7. Use oils that contain healthy fats.
The body requires fat and different kinds, so we must choose the fats that provide you with benefits.
Virgin and extra-virgin olive oil and expeller-pressed canola are the best bets for anti-inflammatory benefits. Other options include high-oleic, expeller-pressed versions of sunflower and safflower oil.
8. Eat healthy snacks twice a day.
If you’re a snacker, aim for fruit, plain or unsweetened Greek-style yogurt (it contains more protein per serving), celery sticks, carrots, or nuts like pistachios, almonds, and walnuts. As always, it is good practice to make sure your body has no food sensitivities or allergies and tolerates these foods.
9. Avoid processed foods and refined sugars.
This includes any food that contains high-fructose corn syrup or is high in sodium, which contributes to inflammation throughout the body.
Avoid refined sugars whenever possible and artificial sweeteners altogether. The dangers of excess fructose have been widely cited and include increased insulin resistance (which can lead to type-2 diabetes), raised uric acid levels, raised blood pressure, increased risk of fatty liver disease, and many more.
10. Cut out trans fats.
In 2006, the FDA required food manufacturers to identify trans fats on nutrition labels, and for good reason — studies show that people who eat foods high in trans fats have higher levels of C-reactive protein, one of many biomarkers for inflammation in the body.
A good rule of thumb is to always read labels and avoid products that contain the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated oils.” Vegetable shortenings, select margarines, crackers, and cookies are just a few examples of foods that might contain trans fats.
11. Sweeten meals with phytonutrient-rich fruits, and flavor foods with spices.
Most fruits and vegetables are loaded with important phytonutrients. In order to naturally sweeten your meals, try adding apples, apricots, berries, and even carrots.
And for flavoring savory meals, go for spices that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, including cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, rosemary, ginger, sage, and thyme. These have effects in the body which block the same enzymes that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications have, without the side effects!
For more information on inflammation, see my article here!
If you are struggling with joint pain, fatigue, body pain, skin disorders or many of the other signs and symptoms of inflammation, give our clinic a call today to schedule a FREE consultation!