Wednesday, February 20, 2019

GREEN LIVING :: Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

I use the word anti-inflammatory frequently on Instagram, mostly when I'm talking about a new smoothie recipe.  Today, I wanted to talk about inflammation and the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet.   

Lets start by defining inflammation.  This is a state of alert that your body will go into when it is fighting bacteria or viruses or starting the healing process in an injured area.  It is a complex process involving many steps and different players.  

Inflammation is supposed to be a beneficial response in your body that brings about a good end result like overcoming an infection.  However, it can also be a chronic process.  In this scenario, it is usually undetected because the levels are low but, since it can go unchecked for long periods of time, the consequences can be detrimental to our health.  Recent studies suggest that persistent low levels of inflammation can set the stage for the progression of chronic disorders like heart disease, autoimmune conditions, neurodegenerative disorders or cancer among others.  

So what can you do?  The first thing that you need to realize is that you normally need a genetic predisposition and the right environmental factors for these conditions to develop.  However, dampening any background levels of chronic inflammation levels will not hurt you-  it will be good for you!

 Here are some easy changes that you can start incorporating in your diet to help combat inflammation.  You probably practice a lot of these already:

1.  Increase your intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils and fish.  Try to include at least one serving of foods high in antioxidants like cherries, apples or avocados.  Antioxidants help fight inflammation by essentially serving to prevent damage to proteins, lipids and DNA in our cells.  

2.  Make sure you include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.  These include oily fish, flax seed and walnuts.  Omega-3 fatty acids are able to inhibit or dampen certain events of the inflammation cascade.

3. Try to decrease your intake of omega-6 fatty acids which are contained in meat, dairy products, margarine and vegetable oils.  Omega-6 does the opposite of omega-3 so you want to make sure you keep this levels as low as possible.  

4. Try to decrease your sugar intake.  It has been postulated that sugar contributes to inflammation from the way it's processed in our bodies.

5.  Regulate stress levels:  I know this is a big one.  Chronic stress, the type that takes over your days, can establish essentially a prolonged stage of alert in your body and trigger inflammation.  It is something that requires your attention.  What can you do to help regulate your stress levels?  That is definitely the topic for another blog post, but here are some ideas:  aerobic exercise, meditation, yoga, keeping a journal, talking, getting outside.

Do you practice any of these strategies?  Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you for reading this post!

Post a Comment