Inflammation can be a key contributor to your pain and can have lasting negative effects on many other conditions like disc related back pain and rheumatoid arthritis.(1) Thankfully, with anti-inflammatory nutrition, you can make simple choices to help you recover faster so you can get back to doing what you enjoy.
We have research now that shows that a changes in our diet can have powerful effects. However this works both ways – if your diet is poor, it can lead to poor health and accelerate some diseases. If your diet is healthy, it has an endless list of health benefits including:
- Reduced Inflammation
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Decreased risk of diabetes
- Less risk of cancer
We know that we should be “eating better” because it will make us healthier, but with all of the different diets, “cleanses”, and superfood fads, where do you even start?
First, we start by limiting the amount of foods that should only be on our plates every once in a while. Unsurprisingly, foods that cause inflammation are typically considered bad for your general health when you eat them all the time. This includes sugary beverages, refined carbohydrates like white bread, pizza dough, and sweet desserts.
Anti-inflammatory foods in general tend to be simple and fresh. Processing foods can change the nutritional content, and not always for the better. So when given the option, choose unprocessed!
Simple Swaps to Reduce Inflammation
Cooking with oil? Make it olive oil! In addition to having antioxidant properties, once processed by your body, olive oil has anti-inflammatory effects similar to omega-3s that come from fish oils.(2)
Another option is avocado oil. It has many of the same benefits as olive oil and avocado oil also has higher smoke/flash points which makes it a better alternative for searing or frying.
Speaking of fish oils, eat more fish! Limit red meat and enjoy the variety of fish our supermarkets have to offer.
Fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and herring contain a chemical called DHA that has been shown to increase brain circulation and function.
The reason why we want to decrease red meat and refined carbohydrates is due to how they are processed. They both are easily converted to fat, and a byproduct of this conversion is arachidonic acid which is highly pro-inflammatory!
When given the choice – choose whole grains! Pick whole wheat not white bread, breakfast oats not sugary cereals, and wild rice in place of white rice. These whole grains are full of antioxidants, phytic acid, vitamin E and selenium, which all help combat inflammatory processes.(1)
Anti-Inflammation with Fruits and Vegetables
You’ve heard it a million times: EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES!
Fruits and vegetables are a cornerstone of anti-inflammatory nutrition.
Not only should you likely be consuming more, but to see the most benefit, have a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Eating fresh fruits can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation throughout your body.(3)
A colorful plate of fruits and vegetables provides a range of antioxidants and nutrients. While having the same fruit or vegetable isn’t necessarily bad, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is better for you!
The minimum recommended daily allowance is 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day! That means we need to have 1-2 servings at every meal. Unfortunately, we rarely have enough each day so when in doubt, have more!
If you are someone who likes structured dietary programs, the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet are both excellent options that help reduce inflammation.
Ultimately, no single food alone is going to be the magic bullet that stops inflammation in its tracks. Enjoy a variety of healthy ingredients and your inflammation and your overall health will improve!
- Khanna S, Jaiswal KS, Gupta B. Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis with Dietary Interventions. Front Nutr. 2017;4:52. Published 2017 Nov 8. doi:10.3389/fnut.2017.00052
- Sköldstam L, Hagfors L, Johansson G. An experimental study of a Mediterranean diet intervention for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2003;62(3):208-214. doi:10.1136/ard.62.3.208
- Islam MA, Alam F, Solayman M, Khalil MI, Kamal MA, Gan SH. Dietary Phytochemicals: Natural Swords Combating Inflammation and Oxidation-Mediated Degenerative Diseases. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:5137431. doi:10.1155/2016/5137431