Have you ever been tired of reading or discovering about new diets? For us women, diet is our day in day out routine. We love to experiment and see for ourselves what works and what doesn’t. Our diet needs could be different but the problems we are trying to target are more or less the same. One of those being Inflammation!
Inflammation is a common cause of worry among most individuals. A low grade inflammation is visible in the form of redness or swelling on your body. Inflammation when left untreated can lead to serious conditions like heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Apart from stress and environmental toxins, certain foods can also act as trigger factors for inflammation.
For example, high glycemic foods such as refined carbohydrates which digest quickly tend to raise the inflammatory levels in the body. Foods like white bread and chips when eaten on a regular basis can cause acute spikes leading to systemic inflammation. Thus, if acute inflammation is troubling you, there is an immediate need to change your dietary patterns apart from medical treatment. Hence, the anti-inflammatory diet is the best solution to your problems.
How does it Work?
The anti-inflammatory diet as the name suggests, is a dietary pattern designed to lower inflammation. In fact, there are several natural foods which can do wonders in combating inflammation.
This diet involves the consumption of 2000 to 3000 calories on a daily basis depending on your gender size and activity level. Of these, about 40 to 50% of your calories come from carbs, 30% from fat and 20 to 30% from proteins. Thus, the anti-inflammatory diet involves the consumption of foods that have the right mix of these nutrients.
This diet also helps control obesity due to the fact that inflammation and inflammatory diseases increase the risk of being overweight and obese. This diet is quite flexible with no strict meal plans. All you need to do is adjust your regimen in accordance with this diet plan by including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and fish oil supplements.
Anti-inflammatory Diet Plan
As stated above, the anti-inflammatory diet plan is quite simple involving just fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. You can design your menu according to your needs by incorporating some of the best anti-inflammatory foods. Given below is a sample anti-inflammatory diet menu.
Anti-inflammatory Diet Menu:
|Breakfast||A cup of oatmeal with skimmed milk, 2 tbsp raisins, 1 tbsp walnuts, 1/8 cup diced strawberries, 1 tsp chopped fresh mint, a cup of green tea|
|Lunch||A turkey sandwich prepared with whole wheat bread, 3 ounces of meat, red leaf lettuce, tomato and 1 tsp mayonnaise, a cup of stemmed chopped black kale cooked with extra virgin olive oil, ½ garlic clove chopped and few red pepper flakes|
|Snack||2 tbsp mixed nuts like almonds, pecans and walnuts, ¾ cup grapes|
|Dinner||½ cup brown rice, 3 ounces of baked salmon sprinkled with oregano, salad prepared with 1 ½ cups spinach leaves, red onion, sliced red peppers, 2 tbsp avocado cubes and drizzled with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp vinegar, steamed asparagus drizzled with olive oil|
|Dessert||A cup of fresh slices of peaches sprinkled with cinnamon|
Certain foods are extremely beneficial in lessening and combating inflammation. The foods given below can form a part of your diet in addition to any medication that you are undergoing. The anti-inflammatory diet lays emphasis on the consumption of these food items.
1. Fruits and Vegetables rich in Carotenoids:
Carotenoid is a pigment that imparts red, orange or yellow colours to fruits and vegetables. This pigment is a potent antioxidant and possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help fight free radicals. To reap the benefits of carotenoids, you can include vegetables like carrot, purple cabbage, deep green arugula and fruits like cantaloupes and apricots in your diet. Ensure to eat at least 4 to 5 servings of this dail
2. Cruciferous Vegetables:
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and kale are placed high in the list of anti-inflammatory foods. They also contain beneficial compounds like sulphoraphane which exhibit anti-cancer properties and protect your skin against UV radiation damage. So in order to control inflammation it is advisable to eat cruciferous vegetables at least 5 to 7 times a week.
3. Whole and Cracked Grains:
Whole and cracked grains are those which are intact and available in a few large pieces. They are different from ground grains found in breads. Being rich in fibre these foods digest slowly, thus help in reducing the spike in blood sugar which is responsible for causing inflammation. You can try whole grains like groats, barley, quinoa and brown rice. It is advisable to have 3 to 5 servings of this per day. You can also try basmati rice which is extremely delicious besides being beneficial in this respect.
4. Fish and Seafood:
Fish and seafood are renowned for being rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are effective in reducing inflammation. Fish like black cod, wild Alaskan salmon, sardines and herring are quite beneficial. You can have 2 to 4 servings of seafood every week. Each serving should contain about 4 ounces.
Blueberries are toppers among the berries in terms of anti-inflammatory properties. They are not only delicious but rich in antioxidants, phenolics and bioactive pigments. Research has shown that blueberries, cranberries and strawberries can improve metabolic syndrome by controlling inflammation.
6. Herbs and Spices:
Apart from improving the flavor of your favorite foods, herbs and spices like basil, chili peppers, cinnamon and turmeric possess powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric comes out as a favorite with its natural anti-inflammatory properties attributed to the presence of an active ingredient called curcumin. Being a potent anti-inflammatory spice turmeric protects against oxidation of dietary fats during cooking and consumption. It is a popular anti-inflammatory drug for treating arthritis. You can use these spices and herbs in abundance as seasoning to reap their anti-inflammatory and other health benefits.
7. Oils with Polyphenols:
Oils like extra virgin olive oil contain polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants that help reduce inflammation throughout the body. Thus, you can use olive oil for cooking or just add it to your salads. It is advisable to have 5 to 7 servings in a day with one serving being equal to 1 teaspoon. Other foods that are good sources of polyphenols include nuts like walnuts and cashews and avocados.
Role of Exercise:
Now the question arises as to whether exercise can be incorporated in this dietary regimen? We all know that exercise plays an important role in improving physical and mental health. Though not explicitly provided in this diet, exercise should be encouraged for overall health. If not intense workout, you can try having a brisk walk which is considered one of the best exercises as it boosts the bone, organ and immune health. Other beneficial exercises include swimming, yoga and belly dancing.
Benefits of Anti-inflammatory Diet:
Following the right dietary pattern when you are suffering from inflammatory disorders can considerably ease the pain and suffering caused by inflammation. Certain anti-inflammatory foods can help in curing mild inflammation. Some of the benefits of anti-inflammatory diet are as follows.
1. Simple and Easy to Follow:
The anti-inflammatory diet is quite flexible and easy to follow as it does not involve strict meal plans. All you need to do is adjust your regimen according to the meal plans. You can easily prepare your meal plan according to your needs. Those who are allergic to gluten- a type of protein present in wheat, rye and barley can consume other kinds of whole grains like rice and quinoa. The emphasis on fruits and vegetables makes it even more easier to follow this diet.
2. Provides Fullness:
One of the benefits of this dietary plan is that while following it, you don’t end up feeling starved or hungry as it requires a consumption of 2000 to 3000 calories in a day. Besides, it includes fiber-rich foods which provide a feeling of satiety.
3. Helps lose Weight:
The concept of anti-inflammatory diet is based on Mediterranean diet which has been associated with weight loss and a lower risk of being overweight and obese. Inflammation and inflammatory diseases are one of the factors contributing to obesity and vice versa. So controlling inflammation can eventually lead to weight loss.
4. Cardiovascular Benefits:
Research indicates that inflammation though not a proven cause of cardiovascular disease, is commonly found in heart disease patients. The anti-inflammatory diet has been associated with lower risk of heart disease and lower levels of blood pressure and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. Research has shown that there is a correlation between heart disease and elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) which is responsible for causing inflammation. The anti-inflammatory diet being high in fibre, has been shown to lower CRP levels.
5. Helps Control Diabetes:
Though there is lack of substantial research in this regard, the healthy foods included in this diet make it a viable option for preventing and controlling diabetes.
6. No Health Risks:
There have been no indications of serious health risks or side effects associated with this diet so far. However, if you already have a known medical condition, it is always advisable to consult your physician before making major changes to your diet.
Thus, if inflammation is a cause of your concern, do not hesitate to make the necessary changes in your dietary pattern. The anti-inflammatory diet is a great option not only to reduce inflammation but also to reap other health benefits.