Last updated on October 12th, 2019 at 06:10 pm
You know how an anti-inflammatory diet can improve your health, your mood and help you lose weight? All good, if you just knew how to start…Well, here are the three key steps to start an anti-inflammatory diet!
Around three years ago I heard for the first time of an anti-inflammatory diet.
I knew what inflammation was, to be fair it would be really bad if after all those years of studying biochemistry I didn’t know it. But I somehow never realized that chronic low-grade inflammation can do so much damage to our health.
The Harm Of Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is involved in the development of diseases like:
- heart disease
- autoimmune diseases (for example arthritis)
You see major, major diseases that affect many of us, our families or people we know and love.
Well, the idea behind an anti-inflammatory diet is that by eating more inflammation-fighting foods (aka anti-inflammatory foods) you can reduce inflammation in the body and prevent these diseases. But also (and probably even more importantly): to feel better than ever.
What are anti-inflammatory foods?
I read through a lot of research and it all comes down to eating natural, un- or less processed foods (like with most good diets).
Overall, unprocessed (or less processed) foods reduce inflammation, while more processed foods cause inflammation.
There’s more to eating this way and I wrote about it in this guide. This is an overview of what we should and shouldn’t be eating to combat low-grade chronic inflammation.
3 Key Steps To Reduce Inflammation With Diet
Here I want to share 3 specific steps you can take to reduce inflammation through diet.
1. Fish instead of meat
If you aren’t vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian, this is an important change. Fatty fish is rich in omega-3’s and they are known to reduce inflammation.
On the other hand, red meat is known to increase inflammation and the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
This tip doesn’t mean: eat fish seven days a week and no meat. It simply means: change the ratio of these foods.
So, for example, you can have 2 days of fatty fish like salmon or mackerel and one day meat. The rest of the week – try more plant-based dishes. They’re rich in fiber and antioxidants, which also help reduce inflammation.
In any case, when you eat meat or fish don’t grill, fry or prepare these foods at high temperatures without water. I wrote more about this in the other post (see the how to cook part).
2. Nuts & seeds instead of oils, bread/grains or dairy
Now if you’re allergic to nuts or seeds – then this step obviously will not work for you. But if you aren’t, switching to raw nuts and seeds instead of grains or dairy, can help you reduce the glycemic load of your food and thus inflammation.
Eating more whole foods like nuts and seeds instead of oils (which are basically isolated fats) will help you control the ratio of omega-3/omega-6 fatty acids.
Nuts & seeds are antioxidant-rich, have a lot of fiber and have a low glycemic index. They also contain healthy fats (omega-3’s) and vitamin E that are anti-inflammatory.
- So for example when you make a salad – you add some seeds instead of cheese or oil.
- You make your own almond milk (or walnut milk) instead of buying cow’s milk.
- You can even make a pie crust that’s made out entirely of nuts and seeds like I did in this butternut squash pie. This is a great change if you have diabetes or are pre-diabetic and need to watch your carbohydrate intake.
Again, all this doesn’t mean stop eating whole grains, olive oil or yogurt overall. These are healthy foods, but their OVERCONSUMPTION can be bad for us.
Examples of great anti-inflammatory nuts and seeds: walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds & almonds.
3. More Herbs & Spices, Less Coffee
Now, this is a change that I’m looking forward to making soon because coffee has got me on a hook and is not letting me go. Coffee isn’t necessarily bad for everyone, but it’s a nutrient stealer. Which means, if you’re like me and drink coffee as if it’s your last day on Earth – coffee can cause deficiencies. And your immune system doesn’t like deficiencies.
Coffee can also mess up your sleep quality – which is an important factor when it comes to chronic inflammation. (Hint: You need sleep to reduce inflammation!)
A better option is drinking tea. Most herbs and spices are anti-inflammatory and drinking herbal tea like chamomile costs almost nothing. It’s cheap, it has no calories and has great health benefits, including being anti-inflammatory.
Of course, you can (and I encourage you to) add more herbs and spices to your meals as well. Not only is your food going to be more delicious and satisfying, but herbs and spices have many health benefits beyond just being anti-inflammatory. So make sure to include these exceptional foods in your diet more often.
(4) Do This In Any Case
Alright, now add to these steps lots and different types of vegetables and berries and you’re on a good path to reduce inflammation by eating the right way.
I hope you found these tips helpful, let me know if you have any questions. This is a very important topic and there’s so much confusion around it, please don’t get overwhelmed and take it one step at a time.
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