The world is full of chemicals, toxins and ways that you can become sicker, sadder and more stressed. But what if there was a diet that could reduce your likelihood of disease? What if it could help you to maintain a healthy weight, prevent illness, and help manage the conditions you already have? What if you could stop heartburn and inflammation like a fire hydrant to a blazing flame? Well the good news is, there is a way to eat that does just that. It's known as an anti-inflammatory diet.
What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
This is not a fad diet, a cleanse or anything like that. Simply put, an anti-inflammatory diet is one that uses food to reduce inflammation in the body.
What is inflammation? It's a natural response in the body to injury or foreign particles. When a part of the body inflames, the inflammatory response brings blood flow, fluid and white blood cells to the area. It is designed to protect and heal tissue.
But inflammation is only supposed to be a temporary state. Tissues are supposed to heal, and the inflammation should disappear. But because we are constantly exposed to injury, illness and foreign particles, many suffer from chronic inflammation.
The problem with chronic inflammation is that it leaves the body in a state of high alert. The compounds that the body produces during inflammation can eventually damage tissue, causing more inflammation.
But by following a diet that aims to reduce excess inflammation, you protect your body from chronic inflammation.
What are the benefits?
So the most important thing to consider is how it might benefit you. Put simply, if you follow an anti-inflammatory diet, you reduce your likelihood of inflammatory conditions, and can manage any current conditions.
What health conditions are linked to inflammation? Some of the most common conditions include:
So if you want to reduce your risk of these conditions, or even manage a current condition – the anti-inflammatory diet might be your best bet.
What to eat
So what can you eat on an anti-inflammatory diet? The good news is, there's plenty of options for delicious foods. Your diet will consist of foods such as:
That gives you plenty of variety to choose from – you can even make yourself homemade treats if you like!
What to avoid
An anti-inflammatory diet isn't just about putting anti-inflammatory foods in, but also removing pro-inflammatory foods whenever possible. Here are a few food choices that you might want to remove or at least minimize:
By avoiding these foods and drinks whenever possible, you can greatly reduce the inflammatory load on your body. Many people may also experience incidental weight loss by removing these foods – always a bonus!
Want to take your anti-inflammatory diet to the next level? There are a number of foods and drinks that can help to lower your inflammation naturally and effectively. Try to make sure you include them regularly for best results.
Salmon, tuna, sardines – these fatty fish are packed full of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are one of the most anti-inflammatory nutrients in the world.
Aim for 3-4 serves per week of oily fish for optimal health and well-being.
If you're looking for a superstar, you can't go past this spice. Turmeric is so anti-inflammatory that it's actually comparable to some anti-inflammatory medications. But luckily, turmeric also has far fewer side effects!
You can include turmeric daily. It suits both sweet and savory dishes, and can even be added to warm beverages like hot milk or hot chocolate.
Feeling fruity? Get yourself some juicy berries. All of the berries are perfect for reducing inflammation: they're low in sugar, high in fiber, and full to the brim with anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
Berries can easily be added into your daily diet. Use fresh when in season, and enjoy frozen over the colder months. Add to your smoothies, salads and desserts by the handful.
Chocolate isn't always bad for you. If you look for chocolate that has low sugar and at least 70% cocoa, it can be incredibly healthy. The compounds found in cocoa are naturally antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
As long as your diet is well-balanced, there's no reason why you can't enjoy a serve of dark chocolate every day. Make sure you savor it!
Fruit and vegetables
A mix of fruit and vegetables should always be the base of any diet, and an anti-inflammatory diet is no exception. Fruit and vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants and other unique anti-inflammatory compounds. The key is to get a variety, as different produce have different benefits. You should aim to enjoy a variety of seasonal produce, as they contain more antioxidants and nutrients than out-of-season produce.
Fruit and vegetables should make up the bulk of your diet. In fact, ½ of every meal you consume should be fruit and/or vegetables. If you struggle to include vegetables, sneak them in by adding them into your smoothies and sauces.
If you love your caffeine in the morning, think about switching to green tea. It's full of antioxidants that protect your body from inflammation. It even helps to boost your focus and reduce your stress levels!
If you're a coffee drinker, try drinking 1-2 cups of green tea per day instead of coffee. Otherwise, enjoy whenever you'd like – but keep it to the morning and early afternoon so you don't feel alert at bedtime!
Have you experienced benefits by following an anti-inflammatory approach? Share your story with us below.