What Foods Can Promote Inflammation vs Anti-inflammatory Foods.
Inflammation is part of your body's natural defense when needed against unwanted microorganisms that negatively affect health, like bacteria, viruses and toxins.
Unfortunately not only microorganisms have this impact, but certain foods can also trigger an inflammatory immune response.
Weight gain is one of the obvious consequences of consistently consuming unhealthy food. But what is less obvious is how being overweight is linked to increased levels of inflammation in the body.
With the goal of improving your eating habits, it is easier to add healthier foods to your meals then give up the problem ones. Unhealthy foods are now so prevalent and abundant in our over industrialized food system, it may seem challenging to avoid. The good news is, there are also lots of healthy food choices, and as you select more of the healthy ones and feel better, you will be motivated to eat less or stop eating the foods that are not doing you any favours.
Which Foods Promote Inflammation?
The leading types of foods that create inflammatory responses include:
- Processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats and cured meats
- Refined grains, including white bread, white rice, pasta and breakfast cereals
- Snack foods with refined ingredients including chips, cookies, crackers and baked goods
- Sodas and other sweetened drinks
- Fried foods
The above foods create inflammation especially in abundance as they contain added sugars, saturated fats and / or trans fats. These are all considered processed foods.
It is one thing to ingest food, but our bodies then need to digest and breakdown the food into nutrients, vitamins and minerals that it can absorb throughout the cells and tissues in our bodies to sustain our existence. Consuming processed foods that are loaded with refined forms of sugars, fats and grains, which are not needed in our bodies, creates inflammation in subtle and not so subtle ways. Over time, the effects of the inflammation can result in symptoms that have become all too common such as:
- Gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux, constipation and diarrhea
- Chronic fatigue
- Joint and muscle pain
- Frequent or recurrent infections
- Anxiety and Depression
As these symptoms and imbalances persist, they can result in an overloaded, toxic and acidic environment within our body systems which is when diseases develop.
Which Foods are Anti-Inflammatory and Support a Healthy Body?
Target foods that are mainly composed of natural sources of healthy fats and carbohydrates, that also contain the protein and fiber we need including vegetables (lots of greens, minimal starchy ones), fatty fish, olive oil, MCT Oil, avocadoes, legumes (cooked to minimize lectins), whole grains and nuts (soaked / sprouted to make them more bio-available) and fruits.
If consuming red meat and other meat sources, select, grass fed, naturally raised, un-processed meats in moderate amounts.
Spice things up with any of these anti-inflammatory spices:
Tumeric & Black Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Garlic, Cayenne, Clove
Remember we are natural, energetic beings that need natural food, full of energy to fuel us.
Try this Anti-inflammatory Smoothie as part of your healthy morning routine that could also include a 10 minute breathing, meditation or mindfulness practice, 5 minute gratitude journaling and a 20 - 30 minute energizing or stretching form of exercise.
All great, simple, ways to support a healthy Mind, Body and Spirit. Just 45 – 60 mins a day.
Green “Start to Your Day” Smoothie
1 cup chopped Romaine or dark green lettuce
½ cup spinach or swiss chard
½ cup Avocado
½ fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp raw honey
½ tsp turmeric and a pinch of black pepper
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 cup water or an unsweetened non-dairy beverage e.g. coconut, macadamia
¼ cup ice cubes or frozen blueberries or raspberries (turn your “green” to a “blue or red ” smoothie.
Options to Add:
1 tbsp fresh ground flaxseed
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil or MCT Oil
½ tsp fresh grated ginger
Contributed by Valerie Romanello, Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), [email protected]