Inflammation And Health. Part 2. Diet

Vegetable stand

( In Part 1, I discussed the impact of low-grade inflammation on chronic disease and health. In Part 2 I'll review the benefits of a diet based on minimally-processed, nutrient-dense, whole foods such as fruits & vegetables, intact whole grains and healthy plant-based fats (nuts, seeds, olive and avocado oil) as well as fish and seafood as your best defense, a.k.a. the anti-inflammatory diet, or some variation that you've probably heard about. Along with influencing inflammation, this diet will provide steady energy and ample vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and dietary fiber.

Using the power of real food to reduce inflammation

  1. Cut the crap, and remember, some seemingly healthy foods are really not - get acquainted with ingredient lists when buying packaged foods as well as nutrition facts tables.
  2. Eat whole foods as much as possible - this is tough when you're crunched for time but there is a big difference between making scalloped potatoes from a box with a powdered mix and scalloped potatoes made with fresh potatoes, real milk, butter and cheese as one example.
  3. Eat more fruit: fresh, frozen or canned in juice. Try a small serving of 100% fruit juice such as concord grape, pomegranate, prune, cherry, black currant etc.
  4. Eat more vegetables: fresh, frozen or canned [rinse to remove sodium]. It's better to eat some instead of none. Try low-sodium tomato or vegetable cocktails.
  5. Eat more intact whole grains; experiment with less common versions such as millet, buckwheat, quinoa, kamut, teff, couscous, black and wild rice.
  6. Eat low-mercury fish at least twice a week for the omega-3 fats. Check out Health Canada's guide to better seafood choices or the guide by Sea Choice for sustainable options. Project Fish Map is a one such version for phones.
  7. Include plant based sources of omega-3 fats daily; walnuts, edemame, ground flax and chia seeds, hemp seeds.
  8. Drink green, white and rooibos tea and yes, coffee is a rich source of anti-oxidants [limit to 2-3 small sizes per day].
  9. Eat whole nuts and seeds, olives, extra virgin olive and avocado oil.
  10. Limit/avoid foods with lots of added refined sugars [rely on the ingredient list for this, not the nutrition facts table which doesn't distinguish between added sugars and naturally occurring ones]
  11. Limit refined and processed fats and fried foods.
  12. Avoid industrial trans fats; look for the words hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated and fractionated oils in the ingredient list of any packaged foods. If you see them, put the food product down and walk away.
  13. Exercise, this helps the body to produce naturally occurring anti-inflammatory defenses.
  14. If you're overweight, consider losing some as extra body fat produces pro-inflammatory compounds.

Photo credit: comprock

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