Most of our modern ailments are rooted in inflammation, from the chronic back pain and sports injuries I used to treat as a physiotherapist, to the far more serious conditions that are crippling our country’s health care system – such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The body’s inflammatory response fuels them all.
What if we could find a way to calm inflammation right at its source? To extinguish the fire instead of just managing the smoke? The implications would be nothing short of miraculous, and the good news is that it’s easier than most of us realize. It all begins with our next meal.
That’s right, our dietary choices have such a profound impact on whether or not we experience inflammation. Each and every bite of food contains powerful information to either turn inflammatory pathways on or off, which will be very empowering news to anyone committed to reclaiming their health once and for all.
By now, most of us understand that sugar has no place in a healthy diet. It not only drives inflammation, but also fat-storage through its impact on insulin production. But what we may not realize is how many of our nutritional staples contain hidden sugars that could be undermining our best efforts to eat and feel well. In other words, we could be eating an inflammatory diet without even realizing it!
Here are the top three inflammatory foods:
- Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners – sweetened beverages, dessert, and packaged and processed food
- Grains – breads, cereals, pasta, rice, corn, pancakes, rolls, crackers, and muffins
- Industrial oils – trans fats, vegetable oils (soybean, corn, canola), and buttery spreads and sprays
All of these foods offer minimal nutritional value, contribute to fat storage through excess insulin production, and disturb immune and digestive function compared to nutrient-dense real food such as vegetables, fruits, starchy tubers, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
In particular, refined sugar and grains have addictive properties that keep us coming back for more even when we try to stop. All of those whole grains you’ve been eating in the name of health may be doing more harm than good, promoting inflammation and carbohydrate dependency.
Here are the top three anti-inflammatory foods:
- Healthy fat — Omega 3s (salmon, sardines), pastured animal fat (beef, poultry, eggs), avocados, olives, coconut oil, nuts and seeds
- Vegetables/Fruits – leafy greens (spinach, kale), cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, broccoli), starchy tubers (sweet potatoes), and berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
- Spices – turmeric, ginger, cinnamon
Anti-inflammatory foods are both delicious and nutritious. By focusing on nutrient-dense foods that satisfy – rather than inflame – the gut, there’s no need to feel the least bit hungry or deprived.
And with 70 to 80 percent of our immune system stationed in our guts, an anti-inflammatory diet can produce other welcomed side effects such as fewer aches and pains, moderated hunger and cravings, increased energy, weight loss, and even a reduced risk for chronic disease.
Now I want to hear from you. What is one change you will make to your diet to reduce inflammation in your body? Leave me a comment below.
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