Chronic inflammation can both lead to and aggravate a number of health conditions. The following dietary suggestions aim to decrease inflammation.
Eat a Low Glycemic Diet
- Refined grains and sugars can be pro-inflammatory.
Consume 7 – 10 Servings of Fruit and Vegetables per Day
- Colorful fruits and vegetables contain a myriad of phytochemicals that are anti-inflammatory. Choose a “rainbow diet” of fruits and vegetables from every color.
- Green leafy vegetables, cabbage family vegetables, onions, berries, cherries, citrus fruits, and pomegranates are particularly anti-inflammatory.
Have Nuts and/or Seeds Every Day
- Consume a variety of nuts — raw nuts are preferable. Especially beneficial nuts include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, flaxseed, sesame seeds, and walnuts.
Use Quality Fats
- Unsaturated fats high in omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. Best sources include cold water fish, flax seeds, and walnuts. Flaxseed oil is an excellent plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and is great for salad dressings but should not be heated.
- Use extra virgin olive oil as main oil for sauces, salad dressings, and marinades. Unrefined coconut oil and be used for sautéing.
- Decrease consumption of foods high in omega-6 fatty acids, such as soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils. Omega-6 fatty acids can increase pro-inflammatory markers in the body if eaten in excess. Many of these oils are widely used in processed foods, so be sure to read labels.
- Avoid hydrogenated fats/trans fats in the form of shortening, margarine, and in many baked and prepackaged foods.
Load up on Herbs and Spices
- Herbs and spices have strong anti-inflammatory properties and can be added in creative ways to most foods. Examples include ginger, garlic, turmeric, curry, rosemary, basil, cinnamon, hops, nettles, and thyme.
- Black, green, red, and white tea (Camellia sinesis) may help reduce inflammation due to the high polyphenol and antioxidant content.
- Herbal tea infusions, such as rosehip and nettle, may also be beneficial.
Get your Probiotics
- Fermented foods are an excellent source of probiotic bacteria which help to keep the digestive tract healthy and may reduce inflammation. Food sources include kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and kimchi.
- Many industrial chemicals and pesticides can irritate the immune system. Choose organic foods and “green” personal care and cleaning products. Refer to the Environmental Working Group www.ewg.org for more information.
Minimize Alcohol Intake
- While modest intake of red wine has an anti-inflammatory effect, excess alcohol intake can increase inflammation and irritate the digestive tract.
Practice Stress Reduction
- Psychological stress can increase the inflammatory response. Physical activity, yoga, and meditation may be helpful to reduce stress.
Consider Food Allergy Elimination
Food allergies can often cause inflammatory symptoms in the body. The common food allergens are milk, eggs, fish, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, soybeans and shellfish.
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