There is no one size fits all. Though there is one size fits YOU. For now, let’s discuss two ways of eating and tease out the take-home concepts that may help in your health, healing, and life-gevity.
Two well-studied anti-inflammatory diets are the Mediterranean diet and the diet of the Okinawan people. The Mediterranean diet centers around more protein and fats like olive oil while the Okinawans consume more carbohydrates in the form of root vegetables than protein. Despite their vast differences, both have shown to decrease inflammation. Though it must be made clear that the mediterranean diet studied is not of the bread, wine, and cheese variety (i.e. the French are not healthier than the people of the US, based on unlimited bread, wine and cheese).
Specifically, the Mediterranean diet, as elucidated from countless studies, focuses on a plant-based way of eating; high in vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole grains. This also includes moderate (read: not a plethora of, but average quantity of) dairy, poultry, seafood, and eggs. There is a low or below average consumption of red meat. The Mediterranean way of eating has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease, cancer incidence, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, early death, reduction in total cost of living and healthcare costs overall.
The Okinawan people live extraordinarily long and healthy lives. This way of eating encompasses low calories and fat, with high carbohydrates (nutrient-dense root vegetables), herbs, botanicals, mindful eating practices, and exercise.
Following these two examples of eating and using the science of individual dietary components, some basic principles of an anti-inflammatory diet are as follows: -Increase phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables, which would contribute to increased fiber consumption also known for its anti-inflammatory benefits -Look for quality protein sources such as lean poultry -Move towards balancing the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio to 3-5:1 by decreasing omega-6 fats from plant oils such as corn, safflower, soy and sunflower oils, and increasing fish and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
Did you know?
The majority of people in the US consume a ratio of 25:1 (omega-6 to omega-3) fatty acids in their diet? The ideal ratio, to support brain health, cognition, dampen inflammation, etc, is closer to 5:1 (omega-6:omega-3)!
-Minimize inflammatory lectins found in whole grains and legumes, such as wheat germ, peanuts, and soybeans. -Eliminate trans fatty acids and refined carbohydrates -And finally, use supplementation and botanicals to assist in decreasing inflammation.
For example, Vitamin D, a powerful hormone, has the capacity to attenuate the damaging effects of the cell’s stress response and the immune reaction. Similar anti-inflammatory benefits can also be gained with ginger as well as curcumin, the active compound in turmeric. Each meal of an anti-inflammatory diet should be centered around vegetables, especially leafy greens and those from the cruciferous family. As little as 3.5 oz (100g) of fatty fish per week can increase omega-3’s as well as flaxseed and walnut oil. In finding one’s own specific macronutrient balance, carbohydrates can be sourced from root vegetables such as sweet potatoes. As for snacks, a handful of nuts and seeds a day are great for reducing inflammatory markers. Ideally, these are raw and unsalted. Beverages such as green tea and red wine have also been studied for their beneficial phytonutrient attributes.
Anti-inflammatory Diets to Address Chronic Inflammation
It should not be surprising to anybody at this point that chronic inflammation can contribute to a laundry list of major degenerative conditions. Systemic (body) markers of inflammation include high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (HS-CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). Human clinical studies, most of them observational, have evaluated the association between single foods/nutrients/dietary patients and the levels of these pro-inflammatory markers in the blood. What do we know? Reduced levels of these pro-inflammatory markers have been observed with low glycemic index and glycemic load diets and with high intakes of fiber, magnesium, carotenoids, omega-3 fatty acids, and flavonoids.
A traditional Mediterranean diet, which typically has a much lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, supplies an abundance of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, has immense anti-inflammatory effects when compared to typical North American and Northern European diets.
Why are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains so important in an anti-inflammatory diet? Certain plants (especially garlic and onions) contain compounds that inhibit lipoxygenase (LOX) and cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2), enzymes linked to inflammation.
COX-2 inhibiting drugs attempt to reduce inflammation in the body. Why not consider the al natural way first, by trying on the Mediterranean way of eating for 30-90 days?
Antioxidants for Anti-inflammation
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain polyphenols and phytate, which have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are very important during inflammatory reactions, because immune cells (e.g., macrophages) produce ROS (reactive oxygen species). Fruits and vegetables also contain vitamin C, selenium, vitamin E, and carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants, supply the body with the antioxidant capacity to neutralize the damaging ROS.
Magnesium is an important mineral that has been depleted in our soil’s content since the 1950s, thus exists in insufficient levels in the body. Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are good sources of magnesium. It is important to choose organic fruits and vegetables, because pesticides have been shown to overstimulate enzymes linked to inflammation.
Find out what way of eating is best for you, with a preventive & personalized food plan, based on your unique needs and preferences.
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