Inflammation is the body’s response to harmful stimuli, when tissues are aggravated and inflamed. Strictly medically speaking, inflammation is caused by the body’s immune response. The autoimmune conditions such as coeliac (celiac) disease, rheumatoid arthritis and fybromyalgia, which I live with, are associated with inflammation that causes joint pain and stiffness, and other symptoms, and make me very sensitive to many foods.
Daily, we all inhale and consume many pollutants, and live in environments rich in plastics and chemicals, which cause bodily inflammation, leading to health degradation and aging. Anti-inflammatory foods, especially wholefoods, raw organic foods, fruit, vegetables, fermented foods, soaked pseudo-grains, nuts, seeds and pulses and sprouted foods, help protect us from these contaminants and enable our bodies to cleanse and function optimally.
Make sure you are not eating too many acidic foods high in omega 6, such as meat, dairy, vegetable oils and wheat, as this imbalance is inflammatory and conducive to ill-health. Ensure that you are getting enough natural, wholefoods rich in omega 3. A balanced plant-based diet consisting of mainly wholefoods with a balance of acidic and alkaline foods weighted towards alkaline, which basically means eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, which is the healthiest choice for everyone. Drink plenty of, preferably filtered or mineral, water. Flush out those toxins and keep yourself hydrated!
treat yourself well.
Stress is so bad for health, do what you can to look after yourself and reduce your stress. Get as much exercise as you can and cut down on those toxins, eating plenty of natural foods. If we take time to unwind and try to live as mindfully as we can, engaging with ourselves and our environment in a positive way and finding healthy, practical ways of not allowing life’s stresses to overwhelm us, we allow ourselves to be as healthy as we can be. It’s individual in many ways but the bottom line is that stress is harmful and in this context impacts on the food choices we make. Good healthy food makes you feel good, while you’re cooking, while you’re eating and afterwards too, and helps to combat stress.
AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET
An anti-inflammatory diet may mean a very strict diet of steamed vegetables and broth for times of extreme bodily stress. I am speaking of a way to eat everyday. I have multiple chronic inflammatory health conditions, many autoimmune, and to combat these I follow an anti-inflammatory diet, which basically means that I cut foods out that I have found make the symptoms of my health conditions worse, and embrace those than make me feel better. It is basically a diet recommended for arthritics (see resources links at the bottom of the page), and also helps with my other health conditions too.
The anti-inflammatory diet I follow excludes all refined sugar, gluten and grains (apart from pseudo-grains), non-fermented soya, deadly nightshade family plants, alcohol, caffeine, and fruit juice (apart from fresh), and concentrates on relatively low carb whole foods, mostly psuedo-grains, seeds, fruit and vegetables. I avoid these foods because I am intolerant to them, to varying degrees, and as an arthritic and severe coeliac, and someone with fybromyalgia, they inflame my conditions. Also a benefit of a relatively low-carb diet for me is that as a type 1 diabetic it makes my blood sugar levels easier to control. This may seems extreme at first glance, but browse the recipes on my site and follow links to other sites from my info pages and you’ll see that it is not a diet of denial, it’s richly varied and wonderful. This anti-inflammatory diet has improved my quality of life, a lot. It is not a cure I am looking for, or expecting, but a better life with less pain, reduced symptoms, striving for optimal health and what that means for me. I fall off the wagon sometimes, and get back on.
My case is fairly unusual, especially for someone of my age, most people would never have to be so strict (and at times I do start eating things and then drop them again at a later date, it’s a process), but we all have to face ill-health at some time whether serious or less so and aiding your body’s ability to fight illness by giving it the fuel it needs and not over-loading it with foods that are taxing to digest and detox from is a very good thing. So many of the illnesses and health conditions we suffer from in the modern ‘Western’ world stem from conditions such as type 2 diabetes, and this condition, which is now an epidemic, can itself be improved and even cleared up through diet and healthy lifestyle. This is a fact.
I have more information and resources about these health conditions and diets off my food and health pages from the main menu, and from links throughout the site, please do explore them.
Choose a diet that suits you, if you feel you may be intolerant to foods, see your doctor, and also follow an elimination diet, monitoring the effects closely, and over time you will be able to tailor your diet to your health needs and be as healthy as you can be.
My diet may seem restricted, believe me it has been a long-road and has felt that way to me as I looked onto the prospect of having to cut foods out, but in reality it has improved my health and my quality of life, and opened up a whole new world of wonderful food and a balanced, mindful relationship to eating. There is more choice, and more satisfaction than I ever imagined possible, and I have been a vegetarian all my life. There is a plant-based revolution happening, and it’s the most exciting thing!!
it is not about denial it is about nurture, and looking after yourself as best you can, so getting the most out of life!
When you research anti-inflammatory diets often you hear that fish is highly anti-inflammatory, this may be true, but you do no need to be a non-vegan in order to eat anti-inflammatory food, in fact being vegan and specifically plant-based eating mostly wholefoods is the healthiest and most sustainable way to live, many resources show this (see the bottom of the post). There’s a lot of research associated with arthritis of all types, an inflammatory condition, and how diet can improve symptoms. Eating powerfully anti-inflammatory mostly alkaline foods and cutting out inflammatory acidic foods has a big impact on arthritics and other inflammatory conditions. Its is also the best way for everyone to treat themselves, even in good health, it will help to protect your health and keep you feeling better. Also not over-eating is a great thing for health, we all too often overload our bodies with food. It takes time to change our eating habits if we need to for the better, but it is very possible and something to really work towards and have confidence in.
Here’s a basic but useful list of inflammatory acidic and anti-inflammatory alkaline foods. Eat mostly foods that fall under anti-inflammatory and you’ll be doing yourself some good.
INFLAMMATORY ACIDIC FOODS
Refined foods such as refined flour and sugar are very acidic and unhealthy.
Sugar is highly acidic and inflammatory. Always choose natural sugar alternatives to white sugar, in moderation. Stevia leaf extract is an alkaline sweetener and so anti-inflammatory.
All highly processed foods are acidic and unhealthy, lacking in nutrition, higher GI/GL, and bad for the digestion.
Grains are inflammatory, especially wheat, and are hard for the body to process. Brown rice is a healthier grain as it is nutritious but it is still acid-forming. Pseudo-grains are healthier choices and less acidic.
All animal products are inflammatory and acidic. Fish is said to be anti-inflammatory but you can achieve this effect with a vegan diet also.
Fried foods are very acidic and unhealthy, have them in moderation or ideally not at all.
Starchy foods are generally acidic, however natural wholefood carbs are healthy, and starchy vegetables are alkaline- forming
Proteins are acidic, an essential part of any healthy diet, they are to be found in decent amounts in highly alkaline foods to such as leafy greens and in more neutral foods such as lentils. Nuts are more acidic and should be eaten in moderation. Almonds and chestnuts however are alkalising.
Coffee is highly acidic, it’s especially bad for those with joint pain such as arthritis.
Cocoa is acidic. Dutch processed cocoa is less acidic but also less nutritious.
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY ALKALISING FOODS
Herbs and spices are the highest in antioxidants. Spices such as turmeric, cloves, ginger, rosemary and cinnamon are amongst the most powerful. Turmeric when combined with black pepper has even more potency and is powerfully anti-cancer, particularly prostate.
Garlic is powerfully anti-inflammatory and cleansing.
Leafy greens are powerful foods, highly alkaline, full of antioxidants and minerals and relatively high in protein.
Berries are packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants. Blueberries come highest on many lists, but any organic berry is powerfully good for you. Even if acidic, as part of a high alkaline diet they’re fantastically healthy and energising foods.
Tea is powerfully antioxidising, especially green teas such as Matcha. Also caffeine-free teas such as rooibos. Chai tea is a powerful anti-inflammatory tonic (taken without refined sugar of course!)
Sprouted foods are powerfully healthy, sprouting optimises nutrients. Alfalfa sprouts are especially alkalising. You can buy sprouted grain flours if you eat grains, or make your own.
Soaked foods are healthier to eat. Soaking beans, nuts, seeds and grains with a dash of acidity such as cider vinegar makes their nutrients more bioavailable and makes the food easier to digest.
Fermented foods are essential for optimal health. A healthy gut is a healthy immune system.
Mushrooms and especially shitake are powerfully anti-inflammatory.
Raw foods are highest in antioxidants and are the most alkalising and anti-inflammatory in general and important to work into your diet.
All fruit and vegetables are anti-inflammatory and healthy, some are acidic but actually not many. You may have specific foods you are intolerant to and which you should avoid, but otherwise, eat the rainbow!
H20! We must all drink plenty of good filtered or mineral water to flush out those toxins and keep hydrated. Even being slightly dehydrated has adverse effects and makes you feel ill, lethargic, and affects the brains function. Drink at least 2 litres of water a day, not including isotonic drinks such as coffee, caffeinated teas and juices.
A more detailed list of acidic and alkaline foods here and here. As with many things this is not finitely prescribed, lists may vary, some sites are more useful than others. I have found seeing foods in terms of alkaline and acidic a very real and useful perspective, it is a good way to categorise foods and help yourself make the right food choices, but the key is to focus on eating wholefoods, on eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg and reducing stress.
the key is to get a balance that is right for you, and to be able to know what that is.
Try to ask as little of your body as possible, especially if it is fighting ill-health, and give it as many nutrients as possible also. Stress is acidic so don’t get stressed about it too much! Use a heath diary to support yourself as you change you diet to be as good as it can be for you.
eat a natural plant-based diet high in preferably organic wholefoods, fresh fruit and vegetables.
GO FOR IT!