Perhaps you’ve heard the term anti-inflammatory diet, but aren’t sure exactly what that means. Or you have, but don’t know where the heck to start. If you’re dealing with ANY sort of health issues, then I strongly believe an anti-inflammatory diet is how you should be eating.
Inflammation itself is not a bad thing, and gets a bad rap. When you cut yourself, what do you think is helping to heal you? Inflammation! But, as a society in general, we are chronically inflamed. And that is not a good thing. Chronic inflammation is rampant, and that includes things like arthritis, eczema and psoriasis, weight that won’t budge, regular headaches…and the list goes on.
Given our current food options, diet is one of the #1 triggers of inflammation. The average American eats almost 2,000 pounds of food a year, and many of those are nutrient depleting foods (meaning they’re pulling from your nutrient stores). Fast food is on every corner, pesticides are sprayed on our produce, hormones and antibiotics are pumped into our meat, and you can buy a bulk order of Spam at Costco.
So what do we do? Adopt and anti-inflammatory lifestyle. Unlike a diet, this is not meant to be short-lived. It is an approach to eating to help lower inflammation over time, and allow the body to heal. An anti-inflammatory diet is one of the best ways to lower inflammation overall, and ensures that your body is getting adequate nutrients.
There are several, easy-to-follow principles when adopting this lifestyle:
First, I tell my clients to focus on eating foods that are found in nature. If you can hunt it, forage it, grow it in your backyard…then great! And taking it a step further, opt for organic and wild when possible to avoid the unnecessary sprays, hormones, etc. If you aren’t already familiar with the Dirty Dozen from the Environmental Working Group, go check that out HERE.
From a beverage standpoint, stick to mainly water, and ensure that it is filtered. Most Americans are chronically dehydrated, getting less than 3 glasses a day. Make it a goal to try to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces, daily. Coffee, tea, and carbonated waters are typically fine, but they shouldn’t be the majority of your beverage intake.
Work on eating the rainbow on a daily basis. No, not Skittles. I’m talking veggies and fruits. Each color has a different array of nutrients, so the more variety, the better. Don’t be afraid to try new things! And if you’re not a veggie love, consider smoothies- they’re a fabulous way to cram in a lot of nutrients in something that can taste great.
Limit inflammatory foods. Those are what my friend calls “factory foods,” which is a great term. If they aren’t found in nature (soda, bagels, Pop Tarts), then they should be limited. These are depleting items that your body truly does not recognize as food, but instead as a toxin (click here to read a great article by Kresser).
Dr Tom O’Bryan believes that nearly ALL diseases stem from inflammation, and that food is the simplest, most cost effective way to heal yourself. Of course, I agree. Start with the basics and opt for an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, and I promise you’ll notice a difference.