Since the birth of human civilization, food had the status of a medicine. The words of Hippocrates 'Let food be your medicine' are omnipresent in the world of natural health nowadays as well. However, students at medical schools are still learning too little about the importance of food when treating symptoms of diseases and the diseases themselves. Although Ayurveda and Chinese medicine have underlined the critical role of nutrition in healing the body and soul, western cultures still do not recognize, that every bite of our food can be either pro or anti-inflammatory.
Let's do a little exercise. Look at your plate. Is there a rainbow of colours (healthy veggies, not artificial colouring), is there protein and healthy fats (such as coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive oil etc.)? Are you eating fermented foods on a daily basis? Do you eat nuts and seeds in their natural, raw form? If you answered yes to all these questions, you are eating an anti-inflammatory diet. If not, read on and find out why it is important to change your eating habits.
Why chronic inflammation is a problem
Every functional doctor will tell you, that chronic inflammation is the root cause of every chronic disease. Whether it is autoimmune disease, heart disease, diabetes or Alzheimer's, they are all preventable and curable by addressing the root cause of chronic inflammation. For those who have only minor health issues such as recurrent headaches, joint stiffness or brain fog, only minor changes in lifestyle might be necessary. However, if you were diagnosed with some kind of autoimmune disorder, these changes will have to be huge. But don't feel overwhelmed and start with baby steps.
Symptoms of chronic inflammation
Conditions that are related to chronic inflammation include asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. If you suffer from these two very common diseases, anti-inflammatory diet is crucial. But how about other diseases? What are the symptoms of chronic inflammation? Again, a little test. Answer yes or no to these questions:
Do you suffer from
- Frequent headaches and brain fog
- Bloating and other digestive problems
- Joint pain
- Weight gain
- Gum disease
- Mood issues?
If you answered yes to these questions, start with anti-inflammatory diet as soon as possible. You will notice a change within 30 days. 30 days, that's all it takes to feel better!
Anti Inflammatory Diet
A fiber-rich diet helps reduce inflammation by supplying naturally occurring anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods (e.g. oats). Get your fiber mainly from vegetables and fruits. You should get at least 25 grams of fiber per day, although our ancestors ate 50 grams and even more.
9 serving of fruits and veggies
Everyone heard about 5 servings but this amount is underestimated. One serving is half cup of cooked veggies or fruit and one cup of raw produce. Focus on garlic, scallions, onions, and leek, and crucifers such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts. Also add herbs and spice to your plate, mainly turmeric and ginger.
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are flax meal, walnuts, and beans. You might consider to take a good-quality omega-3 supplement. Consume cold-water fish such as salmon, oysters, herring, mackerel, trout, sardines, and anchovies.
Chose olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, ghee etc.
Some studies have found that low levels of vitamin D are associated with higher levels of inflammatory markers. Let your doctor check your level of vitamin D. It should be higher than 50 ng/ml (note that I live in Provence with more than 200 sunny days per year and my levels are 60 ng/ml).
Avoid processed foods, refined sugar, pro inflammatory oils (refined oils in plastic bottles ) and in the case of autoimmune disease, also gluten and dairy.