Inflammation is the normal response that the body’s immune system gives when subjected to trauma, stress, illness, or injury. It involves pain, swelling, heat, and redness of the affected organ or tissue, and sometimes even farther out than the infected area. When the immune response is not able to be turned off, it results in a serious condition of chronic inflammation. This has been linked to conditions such as heart disease, some cancers, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, insulin resistance, and age-related disorders. If you’re thinking about going on an anti-inflammatory diet, think of the bigger picture. Overall health should be considered more so than the desire to just lose weight. If the goal is to reduce inflammation, it is especially important to not just focus on diet as the things to eat and the things not to eat, but to focus on diet in the more general sense; as a healthy lifestyle factor. The anti-inflammation diet is more of a lifetime eating plan that will provide optimum nutrition and avoid unnecessary inflammation.
Tips on Food
Here are some important things to keep in mind while on a special diet to prevent or reduce inflammation:
Consume a wide variety of foods to get all the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Eat as much fresh food as possible, while reducing the amount of processed and fast foods. Fruits and vegetables should be eaten in abundance. If you are maintaining your weight (and this is your goal), the number of calories you eat does not have to be reduced while on an anti-inflammatory diet. Include carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats at each meal. Daily, you should consume 40-50% of calories from carbohydrates, 30% from fat, and 20-30% from protein. Include at least 40 grams of fiber in your meals daily. Eat good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Spice up your dishes with flavors such as ginger, curry, and many others because they can have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Avoid pro-inflammatory foods: junk foods, high fat meats, sugar and sugary foods, fast foods, and processed meats all contribute to inflammation in some way. Try to stay away from deep fried foods. Sugary drinks, such as regular sodas and fruit juices with hardly any actual fruit juice should be eliminated completely. Not only are they empty calories, but they are full of unnecessary sugar that can trigger inflammation. Drink herbal teas, plenty of water, decaffeinated beverages, 100% fruit juices, and vegetable juices.
If after switching to this type of diet you feel that you are not getting enough variety, and therefore not getting all the essential vitamins and minerals, start taking a supplement such as a multi-vitamin. There are also more specific supplements for every vitamin you could possibly need, and others such as fish oil. Many women do not get enough calcium, so a 500 mg supplement of this would be a good addition to any diet; this supplementation is not necessary for men. Talk with your doctor about any other supplements you might be interested in taking.
Other Lifestyle Factors
In addition to eating healthy, it cannot be stressed enough that exercise is needed the same way that eating the right foods is needed. Include at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily. This can be done all at one time or sporadically throughout the day. Strength training 2-3 times per week will also do your body some good.
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