- Alyssa Abrahamson
Anti-Inflammatory Diet. What is it? Why is everyone talking about it?
You’ve heard inflammation is “bad” but, is it really? And what’s all the hype about eating an “anti-inflammatory diet”?
Inflammation. We’ve all experienced it. The swelling of your skin from a bug bite; swollen glands from a sore throat; puffiness of an ankle after twisting it (not fun). This is the body’s healing response: sending healing blood and fluids to the damaged area. Inflammation is the body’s way of signaling to the immune system to heal and repair as well as protect against viruses and bacteria.
Inflammation is normal, essential, and is meant for repair and healing, but when it becomes chronic, that’s when it’s cause for concern.
Let’s go a little deeper to understand more. Inflammation can fall into two categories:
Acute Inflammation Acute inflammation occurs short term, like a few days or up to a few weeks, as the body is healing an infection, irritation, or injury such as a minor burn, swelling from pink eye, or my personal favorite experience: severely biting the inside of my cheek! Ugh. The redness, puffiness, heat, swelling, temporary loss of function, and discomfort are signs of acute inflammation, all of which are critical to help heal damaged tissue and fight off a virus or bacteria.
Chronic Inflammation Chronic inflammation is slow, long-term inflammation that lasts for months or years. Some of the common signs and symptoms that develop during chronic inflammation include:
body pain, fatigue, insomnia, depression, anxiety, digestive problems (constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, bloating), weight gain, excessive mucus (always needing to clear your throat or blow your nose), rashes (e.g. eczema or psoriasis) and headaches.
These symptoms are your body’s inflammatory response, but over time and for prolonged periods may damage your healthy cells, tissues, organs and joints. If left unchecked they can contribute to chronic diseases such as asthma, allergies, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, Alzheimers, and autoimmune conditions such as lupus, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Interesting to note, if it ends in“itis,” it means inflammation (e.g. bronchitis, dermatitis, gingivitis, gastritis).
If you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above for some time, and you know intuitively if it’s been going on for too long, please do not ignore your body’s messages. I recommend you seek the advice of a healthcare professional.
Inflammation is the root cause of disease and immune issues, and my goal is to help you address symptoms and concerns so you can implement healthy choices and changes.
What are some causes of chronic inflammation?
Chronic stress (including psychological stress such as financial, being in an unhealthy job or relationship, unemployment, being a caregiver)
Untreated causes of acute inflammation such as an infection or injury
Long-term exposure to industrial chemicals or air pollution
An autoimmune condition, which involves your immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissue
Poor diet including processed foods, sugar, excess omega-6 inflammatory fats (such as soy/soy products, peanuts, corn, vegetable oils like canola oil and sunflower oil)
Truth: diet can cause or calm inflammation.
Fortunately, there are many diet and lifestyle changes that you can make to help support your immune system, reduce inflammation, and bring your body back into balance.
February is “All Things Nutrition for You!” here at Wellness HQ, and I’d like to offer some ways for you to help keep inflammation at bay through diet and nutrition.
But first! You may ask: Why should I care about eating an anti-inflammatory diet if I don’t have a chronic disease or any of those symptoms?
Because all disease begins with inflammation in the gut (aka your digestive tract). It’s a stunning fact that 70-80% of your immune system lives in your gut . With LEAKY GUT rampant among us, and it being a root cause of inflammation, eating nourishing anti-inflammatory foods is one way you can begin to restore and repair your gut lining to help reduce inflammation.
Yep! What you consume directly impacts your immunity and your overall health and well-being.
If you care about your health, and I know you do, being mindful of what you eat is critical to your present and future self; you have the option to choose foods that are either healthy or harmful to your body and your brain. Which do you choose?
Common Inflammatory Foods:
Refined sugar, grains and carbohydrates that are found in candy, bread, pasta, pastries, some cereals, cookies, cakes, soft drinks
Vegetable and seed oils such as canola oil, grape seed, safflower, corn and sunflower oils
Gluten free grains including oats, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, wild rice
Nightshades (tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers, eggplant, paprika, cayenne pepper, etc.)
Choose foods that boost your overall wellness!
Think of anti-inflammatory foods as single ingredients that are unprocessed, unadulterated, and found in nature: fresh fruits & vegetables, fish, seafood, poultry, and meat.
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can save your life! And make you feel like a million bucks!
Top Anti-Inflammatory & Gut-Healing Foods:
Cold water wild-caught fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, & sardines, all of which have a megadose of omega-3 anti-inflammatory fatty acids EPA and DHA)
Spices like turmeric and ginger
Dark greens, including kale, broccoli, Swiss chard
Herbs such as rosemary, basil and parsley
Freshly ground flaxseeds
Virgin Coconut oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Raw fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi
Now that you have a better understanding of what inflammation is and what anti-inflammatory foods to incorporate into your diet, let’s take a deeper dive into one of the most basic, yet critical, nutritional recommendations I can offer to everyone: WATER!
Hydration is Life! Water is vital to flushing toxins out of your body, which can help fight inflammation. When you’re hydrated, you keep your joints lubricated, help alleviate fatigue, cramps, headaches, and more.
Ready to dive in?! Watch the replay of my workshop:
Life Hack: Hydration (And Everything You Need to Know About Drinking Water)
In this workshop you’ll learn exactly why hydration is paramount! You’ll learn when to drink water (yes, timing matters!), and receive tips, and suggestions for keeping hydrated (if you hate drinking water, or even if you love it!) and much more. Do coffee, tea, sparkling water, and seltzer count? You’ll find out! You’ll leave understanding how and when to drink water, how much water to drink and how keeping hydrated will improve your health and energy.
Let's anti-inflame and hydrate together!
February 4, 2020