Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Want to Be Pro-Active to Support YOUR Health? Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods! By: Deborah A. Klein, MS, RD, Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Author of "The 200 SuperFoods That Will Save Your Life"

Help yourself live younger and healthier longer, by focusing on reducing inflammation!  Prolonged chronic inflammation has been linked to increasing risk of disease, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, due to promoting cell damage.  When the body is inflamed for too long, the immune system has a hard time maintaining homeostasis (a healthy balance).  High levels of the inflammatory biomarkers, which are called “pro-inflammatory cytokines,” can influence both the onset of a disease and how long it will last.  One common risk factor for increased chronic inflammation is having excess belly fat.  Our body can get inflamed in response to overeating, leading to abdominal obesity.  Compared to individuals who maintain a normalweight, people who are obese have been shown to have higher circulating levels of those inflammatory markers; cytokines and C-reactive protein (CRP).  At your next annual physical blood test, ask for C-reactive protein (Hs-CRP) to be measured to know what your level is of this common inflammation marker.

Thankfully, nutrients play a key role in combating the inflammatory action.  Following a predominately Mediterranean based diet: Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains, has shown anti-inflammatory effects, compared to the North American & Northern European dietary patterns, higher in red meat and whole-fat dairy products.
A Healthful Action Plan: Eat Anti-Inflammatory Power Foods!  Choose to support disease prevention and give yourself inflammation-fighting antioxidants!
        Vegetables and Fruit: Aim to eat 4 to 5 servings a day each of fruits and vegetables.  One serving: A medium (2-inch across) fruit, ½ cup canned or frozen fruit, ½ cup fruit juice, ½ cup cooked vegetable, and 1 cup leafy raw greens.  Best to eat your fruit or have a blended drink, rather than a juice, to get fiber for slowing the absorption rate of sugar, preventing those sugar highs and lows. 


        Omega-3 Fats: Cold-water fish (aim for 2-3 times/week: Wild salmon-has more omega-3’s than farmed, sardines, herring, mackerel), ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, shelled hemp seeds, leafy green vegetables, walnuts, butternuts (aka white walnuts), pecans, extra-virgin olive oil (use for salad dressing), omega-3 eggs (via the flax seeds the hens eat), and seaweed.


        High-Antioxidant Sources (providing vitamin C, beta-carotene, and/or vitamin E): Yellow, Orange & Red vegetables (Peppers, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Yams); Dark Leafy Greens (Spinach, Kale, Chard), Citrus Fruits, Black & Green Teas, Allium Vegetables (onions, garlic), Berries, Dark Chocolate, Nuts, and Seeds.
        High-Fiber Foods: Instead of those white, low fiber carbs, eat whole grains (oats, barley, brown rice), artichokes, yams, sweet-potatoes, winter squash, quinoa, sugar snap peas, green peas, legumes (e.g., lentils, splitpeas, edamame, black, pinto…beans).
        Spices Containing Anti-Inflammatory Compounds: Ginger, Garlic, Onion, Rosemary, Turmeric, Oregano, Cayenne, Clove, Nutmeg.


        Prebiotics and probiotics can decrease the activity of those disease promoting proinflammatory cytokines. Prebiotic Sources: Chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, leeks, garlic, bananas, asparagus, and raw honey.  Probiotics: Cultured dairy foods, such as yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, pickles, chutney, sourdough bread and kombuchu tea.
Also, keep yourself well hydrated, sip lots of water throughout the day, squeeze in some fresh lemon too for added vitamin C, giving you an antioxidant boost for a stronger anti-inflammatory punch!

References: Franz, M. (2014). Nutrition, inflammation, and disease. Today’s Dietitian, 16 (2), 44-56.
Galland, L. (2010). Diet and inflammation. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 25(6), 634-640.
Rakel, D. & Rindfleisch, A. (2005). Inflammation: Nutritional, Botanical, and Mind-Body Influences. Southern Medical Journal, 98 (3), 302-310.

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