Try to change your attitude about removing these harmful foods. You don’t need to starve yourself, you just need to choose healthier, less inflammatory foods that are truly delicious. Do this, and I promise you will feel increased energy, a healthy glow, and better mental capacity.
What is an Anti-inflammatory diet?
One thing that I am always looking to do is reduce sources of inflammation in my body. I work out hard and often, and I don’t want aches and pains in my muscles and joints slowing me down, especially as I get older. I want to keep going and doing what I love for as long as I possibly can. So I seek to minimize my exposure to inflammatory foods. That’s why I have adopted an anti-inflammatory diet.
Research has implicated many popular foods as inflammatory agents, and the list is constantly growing. The most important ones that I focus on are sugar and lectins. You’re undoubtedly familiar with sugar, and even the mainstream food press has got the news that sugar is everywhere and that it’s bad for you. But they usually focus on things like weight gain and the risk of diabetes – both serious problems. But you don’t hear as much about sugar being inflammatory, yet it’s one of the worst culprits. You’re probably less familiar with lectins if you’ve heard of them at all. You’ll find lectins in many foods that are on the “healthy” list (at least this week’s). Things like beans, grains, and even nightshade vegetables (yes, tomatoes!) are a significant source of lectins in the human diet. What’s so bad about them? Essentially, lectins are plant toxins. The theory is that some plants evolved them to prevent animals (like us) from eating them. But eat them we do, and when consumed in large enough amounts they can damage the gut wall and contribute to a condition known as leaky gut. This causes irritation that can result in symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. It can also prevent the gut from absorbing nutrients properly. Moreover, it can cause an immune reaction in the body which naturally increases inflammation. If you’re prone to immunological disorders, such as arthritis, you know what I mean – and lectins can cause them to flare.
An anti-inflammatory diet is one that minimizes your exposure to the inflammation causing agents found in many common foods. Practically, this means removing foods that are high in sugar, lectins, or both, and replacing them with better, less inflammatory alternatives. It also means increasing your antioxidant intake, both naturally, by eating foods that are high in antioxidants, and through supplementation.
Examples of Antiinflammatory Diets
You’ve probably heard of them without necessarily equating them with anti-inflammation: The Mediterranean diet, Paleo or Primal diets are popular examples of anti-inflammatory diets.
Examples of foods that should be part of any anti-inflammatory diet include:
- Dark leafy greens
- Cruciferous veggies
- Organic cage free eggs
- Fish (cold water species, preferably wild caught or, if farmed, organic/antibiotic free)
- Grass-fed organic meats and poultry
- Good fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter and ghee
- Green tea
- Turmeric and ginger
- If you aren’t vegan add collagen to your diet
- If you are vegan Brewers yeast and sea veggies are important to add for your amino acids and B vitamins
- Herbs and spices
- High cocoa content dark chocolate (80% and higher) and red wine (in moderation)
What to eat:
I always have on hand an assortment of veggie’s either roasted or steamed to accompany any meal. I try to have on hand a good protein source that’s already grilled or cooked, or a good tuna in olive oil or organic sliced turkey or chicken. And don’t forget hard boiled eggs! They are a must for me; my go-to snack or meal. Keeping these foods handy helps fight the urge to reach for what I call bad carbs, meaning pretzels, chips, cookies, candy that are full of sugar and processed grains that turn your body into an inflamed mess.
What to absolutely avoid is:
Pasta, cereals, rice, most beans, sugary drinks, trans-fats, dessert of virtually all kinds, cookies, candy, ice cream, any and all soy products, and excess alcohol, in particular, mixed drinks, which not only contain alcohol but are often loaded with sugar.
Try to exercise regularly, but vary your routine and try not to overdo training which actually releases free radicals causing the body to be vulnerable to inflammation. And, of course, drink plenty of water and get a good night’s rest. The basics.
Try to change your attitude about removing these harmful foods. I know it sounds like a chore, but I promise it’s not such a sacrifice. You don’t need to starve yourself, you just need to choose healthier, less inflammatory foods that are truly delicious. Do this, and I promise you will feel increased energy, a healthy glow, and better mental capacity.
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About the Author
Corinne Brown is a Fitness Professional with over 30 years experience. She is the co-founder and co-owner of Fitness Incentive.