The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Inflammation in the body can have an enormous impact on your health and well-being – leading to many of the common diseases that affect millions of people’s lives on a daily basis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common conditions that can be attributed to inflammation, but it is not the sole one. Chronic inflammation can in fact contribute to a host of serious illnesses, from Alzheimer’s to heart disease, as well as many cancers. But an anti-inflammatory diet may be able to counter the symptoms of inflammation, and potentially reduce the long-term risk of serious disorders from arising.
Read on to find out more about what makes an anti-inflammatory diet, and how it can help you.
What is an anti-inflammatory diet?
Unlike other popular “diets”, the anti-inflammatory diet does not consist of any particular food group, nor does it aim to control or reduce your weight. It is also not designed to be a short term plan to adopt for a brief time while you gain its benefits.
Instead, the anti-inflammatory diet is a transformation of your entire style of eating, and is designed to be a long term change to your eating habits and lifestyle. It focuses upon foods that help to maintain optimum health, and can help to fight inflammation in the body.
The diet places emphasis on consuming fresh wholefoods as much as possible, with a variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts and fish – and reducing the amount of processed foods that are high in unhealthy fats, salt and sugar, with little nutritional benefit. The diet also cuts back on sources of saturated fat – including dairy foods such as butter and cream, and red meat.
Many of the most common anti-inflammatory foods may already be common parts of your diet already, but by placing an emphasis on healthier choices and reducing foods that can actually increase inflammation, you can enjoy the benefits of greater well being, and manage or reduce the symptoms of inflammation.
Foods that Reduce Inflammation
One of the most well known aspects of the anti-inflammatory diet are foods that are associated with the so-called Mediterranean diet. This emphasises a diet rich in fish, olive oil and vegetables. Oily fish in particular are especially beneficial, due to providing the body with an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce the presence of inflammatory proteins in the body. These includes fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel and anchovies.
Olive oil is also a popular part of the Mediterranean diet, and offers numerous anti-inflammatory benefits too. Rich in monounsaturated fat and antioxidants, it also contains oleocanthal, which is a compound known to reduce inflammation and its associated pain.
As well as featuring plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and fish, the Mediterranean diet is also marked for having very little in the way of refined carbohydrates such as pasta and white rice. Instead, whole grains are favoured, such as brown rice, wholewheat flour breads, and bulgar wheat.
Alongside the foods found on the Mediterranean diet, there are many others that can help to fight and reduce inflammation. Garlic has long been renowned for its medicinal qualities, and studies have found it to offer a host of benefits that can help anyone suffering from inflammation.
Spices are a key ingredient in many cuisines – and they are also excellent anti-inflammatories, as well as providing a wealth of flavour to your food. Spices such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and cloves have all been found to minimise free-radicals that can lead to inflammation, and can help to improve your sense of wellbeing when added regularly to your diet.
Onions are another great health booster, and the perfect compliment to spices – both raw and cooked, they can help to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of disease.
Colourful foods also provide a wide range of health benefits and play a big role in the anti-inflammatory diet. Dark, leafy greens such as spinach, collards and kale are an excellent source of vitamin C, antioxidants and many other nutrients that can help fight inflammation and cellular damage. They offer the highest amount of benefit when consumed raw, and juicing is one of the best ways to enjoy them.
Coloured fruits and vegetables
A variety of coloured fruits can also help to boost your diet – a mixture of berries, including strawberries, blueberries and blackberries can help to support your immune system further.
Other fruits and vegetables that are high in fibre are also valuable additions to an anti-inflammatory diet, as fibre helps to reduce levels of C-reactive protein, a protein that indicates greater inflammation in the body. Amongst colourful fruits, common vegetables such as carrots and peppers are a great source of fibre.
Nuts are another prime source for the anti-inflammatory diet, and can help to provide a healthy and filling alternative to processed snacks and foods containing high amounts of salt and sugar. Low in saturated fats, and a rich source of fibre and proteins, nuts such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts and pine nuts are ideal sources, and can be incorporated into your diet in an variety of ways.
Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
An anti-inflammatory diet offers a host of benefits for your health and can greatly improve your sense of well being. By reducing the impact of chronic inflammation through diet, you can encourage and maintain long-term health, with reduced dependency upon drugs and medication, which may introduce a variety of unwanted side effects.
Boost your immune system
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, alongside excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, can help the body to regulate its immune system more effectively by providing all the nutrition required to perform at an optimum level, and reduce the risk of major and minor diseases from developing, or limit their impact.
Lose excess weight
An anti-inflammatory diet can also help the weight loss process, despite not being a diet targeted at reducing weight in the first place. By reducing your consumption of processed foods high in sugar and salt, as well as foods rich in saturated fats, you can reduce the amount of highly calorific foods that can lead to weight gain.
Slow down the aging process
By eating a regular diet that is rich in anti-oxidants and nutrients that can reduce cellular damage, you can also enjoy a more youthful look, slowing down the aging process.
Enjoy an internationally inspired diet
As well as the numerous health benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet, it can also be a greatly enjoyable one. With a focus on fresh foods, this diet is rich in flavours and variety – relish choosing from an international array of dishes, drawing inspiration from delicious Mediterranean cuisine for its focus on fresh vegetables and fish, to Asian and Latin styles, which incorporate health-boosting spices regularly.
With such a wide range of foods to choose from, it is easy to incorporate and modify existing meals to include a healthier amount of ingredients – simple switches, such as adding fresh fruits to yoghurt for breakfast, enjoying grilled fish alongside a plate of roasted vegetables for lunch, and a delicious curry with brown rice are just some of the easy ways you can introduce anti-inflammatory foods into your daily diet.