Written by Laren Rusin, DPT, Functional Nutritionist and Physical Therapist

PART 1

What’s an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

We keep hearing about inflammation being the root cause of so many diseases and disorders. From acne to IBS to cancer, uncontrolled inflammation can cause not only pain, but problems on a cellular level, showing up in a wide variety of symptoms.  These can include pain, skin problems, digestive issues, cardiac problems, mood changes, skin issues, and the list goes on! There are countless healing diets out there, but all should share these common principles.

They should:

  1. Include a lot of fiber. Fiber helps with digestion by feeding the good bacteria in our gut, and helping pass toxins through our body. It helps with regularity and bulks up stool.  We recommend women eat about 25 grams of fiber a day, and men 35 grams. Ideally, fiber should come from whole foods, so you benefit from the array of nutrients that these foods also contain, instead of packaged fiber supplements, though there are cases where those can be recommended.
  2. Include good fats. Gone are the days where a low-fat diet is recommended across the board. Good, healthy fats are essential for building hormones, absorbing vitamins, and maintaining healthy skin and organs. Fats make food taste good, and keep you satisfied for longer. The topic of which fats are best, and why, is enough for another blog post itself, but a focus on healthy unsaturated fats from avocado, olives, and nuts; fish, animal products, grains, and seeds, with some saturated fats from grass fed meats and dairy, will keep your gut, brain, and hormones happy. Deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to inflammation, and an imbalanced intake of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids can trigger inflammatory responses in your body.
  3. Have a wide range of phytonutrients. Eating the rainbow provides countless phytonutrients that help fight inflammation, help immune function and prevent cancers. These foods also protect your liver, brain, heart, and vessels. When you think of the rainbow, don’t forget the pale foods – even white and tan foods have their health benefits. Think mushrooms and garlic, not bagels and pasta! Many of these phytonutrients are fat-soluble, so you need to eat the veggies and fruits that contain them with a good fat source in order to absorb the nutrients. For example, eat some blueberries with a handful of walnuts.
  4. Not spike your blood sugar. Eating foods that keep your blood sugar stable is essential in keeping inflammation down. Eating a low glycemic load diet will help keep your blood sugar stable through the day.  This means avoiding sugars and sugary snacks, and pairing higher glycemic-load foods, such as potatoes and corn, with proteins and fats.
  5. Allow for regular meals. Eating regular meals will help stabilize your blood sugar, and give your body sufficient time to rest at night between dinner and breakfast. This will allow your gut to “clean itself” and take care of the biome that houses a big part of your immune system. Whether that includes intermittent fasting, snacks or no snacks, may depend on your physiology, and will vary from person to person.

Need help figuring out how to eat anti-inflammatory? Come meet with our nutritionist for more information, including a detailed and personalized plan. Up ahead, parts 2 and 3: favorite anti-inflammatory foods and herbs and spices!