Let food be thy medicine- Hippocrates
We all know the importance of food in our lives. We always keep wondering how our body reacts to different food and eating styles. We often come across our friends, family talking about following a different eating style for instance ketogenic, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free diet. What is it about? Does it have any impact on our bodies? Food is much more complicated, its a system.
Working as a healthcare practitioner particularly in multi-modal settings with a chronic illness, I have realized the importance of food as medicine. Typically after any form of injury, illness, there is a lot of focus on pill prescriptions. Be it following major, minor bruising, muscle trauma, degenerative disease like arthritis, chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease…etc. The common feature amongst all the above conditions is inflammation although the mechanism of injury and disease course of action is different. Inflammation may be triggered by different sources and can affect locally to one part of the body or generalize to the entire body and can last for short to long duration. Therefore, an anti-inflammatory diet is essential to combat inflammation.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural process that helps our body to heal and defend itself from infection, illness, or injury. However, it becomes harmful for the healing tissues in the body to have inflammation for a prolonged time. Chronic inflammation is slow, silent, and never shuts off leading to chronic diseases. As a part of the inflammatory response, the body increases the production of white blood cells, immune cells, cytokines, C-reactive protein, growth factor to help fight infection.
Inflammatory diet symptoms
Digestive issues - Bloating, gas, abdominal pain and intestinal hyperpermeability
Chronic disease - Inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, glomerulonephritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, retinitis, cataracts, infertility, allergies, and autoimmune problems
Neurologic symptoms - Numbness, tingling, weakness, fatigue and headaches
Mechanism of Anti Inflammatory diet
The primary mechanism of an anti-inflammatory diet is decreasing chronic low-grade inflammation via a decreased production of inflammatory mediators such as C-reactive protein, cytokines, growth factors, and increased production and activation of matrix metalloproteinases which in turn play a key role in tissue remodeling.
Foods to avoid on the Anti-inflammatory diet
Refined grain products White bread, white whole bread, pasta and desserts, and products made with grains or flours from grains. The grain contains a substance called phytic acid which is known to reduce the absorption of calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
Partially hydrogenated oils(Trans fats) Margarine, deep-fried foods, fast food, and package foods. It's high in omega-6s (pro-inflammatory).
Soda and sugar Added sugar causes obesity, insulin resistance, increased gut permeability, and low-grade inflammation.
Dairy and soy Consumed as condiments, not the main portion of the meat
Red meat and eggs Excessive saturated fats contain high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids.
Legumes (beans, lentils, and soy) Contain sugar proteins known as lectins, which resist digestion and cooking
Recommended food to add on the Anti Inflammatory Diet
Unlimited fruits and vegetable Vegetables provide more fibers and minerals than whole grains. Vegetables should be eaten raw or lightly cooked for max nutrients.
Fish or frozen fish, however, avoid tilapia (high in omega-6s). Shellfish are a good source of omega-3’s if no allergy is present. Balance omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
Lean Meat Chicken, turkey, eggs, egg whites, lean beef, salmon, herring, mackerel(not king mackerel), sardines, trout, oysters.
Nuts Almond, cashew, walnut, hazelnut, macadamia nuts, etc. As nuts are high in calories be sure to temper your nut consumption.
Spices Ginger, turmeric, garlic, dill, oregano, coriander, fennel, red chili, pepper, basil, rosemary, kelp, etc (sea salt is acceptable)
Salad dressings Extra virgin oil, balsamic vinegar (or lemon juice), mustard green, dill, oregano
Drink Water, green tea, black coffee
Sweets Dark chocolate (up to 50-100 calories per day
Healthy eating is a way of life, so it’s important to establish routines that are simple, realistically, and ultimately livable. Arthur Agatston
Start exploring your healthy eating options and see how it makes a difference in your living.