Your Personalized Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Posted on February 27, 2017 by Amy Krasner
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an anti-inflammatory diet?
For most people it is the Mediterranean diet. While the Mediterranean diet has many health benefits, it is not the only approach to reduce inflammation. Before we start talking about anti-inflammatory diets, it’s important to understand what inflammation is in the first place. You can think of inflammation as an internal irritation in your body. On the outside of your body some symptoms of inflammation would look red, puffy, swollen, and might even be itchy. On the inside of the body we often don’t feel symptoms of inflammation- at least not until it causes secondary side effects like digestive issues, migraines, skin rashes, heart disease, or cancer. In order to reduce inflammation in your body, you’ll need to get more customized than a generic “one-size fits all” approach.
Here is my step-by-step guide for creating your own personal anti-inflammatory diet.
Step 1: Remove the foods that are most commonly known to contribute to inflammation.
The primary suspects that I am referring to are:
- Sugar- all white sugar, brown sugar, and artificial sweeteners
- Gluten– found in wheat, barley, rye, and oats.
Take these three categories completely out of your diet for 30-days to experiment with your results. I am not asking you to remove these foods forever, however if you really want to identify if these foods are inflammatory for you, I suggest you give it a try! By removing foods for 30-days you give your body a break from these foods and allow your immune system to calm down. Then, when you add these foods back in one by one you will be able to recognize if they are triggers for your inflammation because your body will respond differently after you haven’t eaten then for 30-days.
Step 2: Add in anti-inflammatory foods to your diet on a daily basis
- Turmeric– can be added through the turmeric spice or fresh turmeric root when you are cooking; or it can be taken as a supplement.
- Ginger– similar to turmeric, ginger can also be added during the cooking process as a spice. Alternatively, you can add fresh ginger to a smoothie or to hot water to drink as a tea.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – also known as essential fatty acids. Omega 3 containing foods are:
- 4-6oz of ‘wild’ salmon two times per week
- organic olive oil
- raw nuts and seeds
You can also get Omega-3s through supplementation. If you are taking a fish oil supplement, I highly recommend not to buy it at a local pharmacy or at a big name store; you really want to make sure to purchase at your local health food store. One of my favorite brands that is available to the public is called Nordic Naturals.
Step 3: If you haven’t seen enough relief of your symptoms, the next step would be to explore some of the other common foods that can be inflammatory triggers including:
- Nightshade vegetables– tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, hot peppers
- Corn– corn products such as corn chips, tortillas, high fructose corn syrup, etc.
- Soy– tofu, tempeh, soy sauce
- Eggs– surprisingly many people are sensitive to the protein structure in egg-whites
- Grains & legumes– including gluten-free grains like rice, oats, quinoa, lentils
For this step you would follow a similar experiment as you did in step one. If you are wondering what the heck to eat while you are working through this more advanced experiment, I would love to support you through the process! I know from personal experience that changing your diet can be challenging and that a little bit of support goes a long way.
Depending on what your symptoms are, you might not need to remove all of these from your diet at once. There are different nutrition guidelines that are tailored for different medical conditions. Similarly, even if you have the same symptoms as someone else, you might need different modifications for your unique body.
Ultimately, be encouraged that if you’re experiencing symptoms of inflammation, there are steps you can take to get back on track and back in balance. With these steps and a little bit of guidance, you can feel like your normal, energetic and happy, healthy self in no time. And if you feel like you need a helping hand, know I’m here to support you along the way.