When trying to fight inflammation brought on by an autoimmune disease or arthritis, many of our patients find it best to tackle that inflammatory response through a combination of efforts.
While that list of efforts is different for every individual, the basics revolve around lifestyle choices, movement, medication, weight management, stress reduction and food alternatives.
The Connection Between Food and Inflammation
Did you know that eating certain foods can contribute to your inflammation? The Mayo Clinic explains:
“Research shows that what you eat can affect the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP)—a marker for inflammation—in your blood. That could be because some foods like processed sugars help release inflammatory messengers that can raise the risk of chronic inflammation. Other foods like fruits and veggies help your body fight against oxidative stress, which can trigger inflammation.”
Reducing inflammation is just one of the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet. Also known as the Mediterranean diet, the Arthritis Foundation states:
“Studies confirm that eating foods commonly part of the Mediterranean diet can do the following:
• Lower blood pressure
• Protect against chronic conditions, ranging from cancer to stroke
• Help arthritis by curbing inflammation
• Benefit your joints as well as your heart
• Lead to weight loss, which can lessen joint pain”
Are you ready to make an anti-inflammatory diet a part of your inflammation management efforts?
Deciding to begin down that road is the first step to better health!
The next step is a bit more difficult, though. It’s all about learning, incorporating, and changing.
Education is Power
It’s time to educate yourself on what foods you CAN eat and what foods you should AVOID as part of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Gaining knowledge and understanding is crucial to your success! The more you know, the more empowered you become to make better food choices!
Let’s go over the do’s and don’ts of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Foods to Cut Out
Some people are more intimidated by a list of foods they need to add to their diet compared to the items they have to cut out. If you are that type of person, check out this helpful list of FOODS TO AVOID as part of the Mediterranean diet.
Commercial baked goods - cakes, cookies, donuts, pastries, muffins
Refined grains/processed carbohydrates - white pasta, white bread, flour tortillas, biscuits (products made with white flour)
Processed meats/red meats - hot dogs, bacon, sausage, salami, lunch meats, beef jerky
Deep-fried foods - corn dogs, egg rolls, french fries, mozzarella sticks (foods fried in partially hydrogenated oils)
Heavily processed foods - meals that are typically frozen and prepackaged
“Junk” foods - chips, crackers, pretzels
Candy - gummy candy, hard candy, chocolate bars
Refined/hydrogenated oils - corn, canola, soybean
Sugary drinks - soda, sweet teas, energy drinks, sports drinks
Okay, that list might appear rather long. Take a deep breath. You still have plenty of amazing food options!
Keep reading to check out all the tasty foods you get to enjoy!
Foods to Add In
Ready for the good stuff? If you would rather look at what you should be consuming rather than what you shouldn’t, this list is exactly for you!
Here’s an itemized shopping list of FOODS TO EAT when following an anti-inflammatory diet.
Fruits - blueberries, strawberries, cherries, bananas, cantaloupe, grapes, oranges, grapefruit, apples, pineapples, kiwi, papaya, apricots
Deep green vegetables - broccoli, spinach, kale, collards, swiss chard
Other vegetables - carrots, celery, cauliflower, onions, cabbage, turnips, cucumbers
Nuts - almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts
Seeds - flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
Whole grains - barley, couscous, farro, bulgur, quinoa, spelt, oats
Legumes - red kidney beans, small red beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas
Lean poultry - chicken, duck, turkey
Fish/seafood - salmon, tuna, anchovies, sardines, bass, mackerel, scallops
Oils - flaxseed, extra virgin olive, avocado, walnut
Herbs/Spices - turmeric, ginger, garlic, rosemary, sage, basil, cinnamon, nutmeg
These foods have anti-inflammatory properties, making them a great fit for the Mediterranean diet.
Beware the Controversial Food Groups
As with any diet, you need to find what works for you. A food that causes a flare-up for one individual might be a safe choice for another.
For example, a person with celiac disease will want to eliminate gluten from their diet, yet gluten-containing foods are allowed as part of a Mediterranean diet.
Below are three food groups that are seen as controversial, considering that they can cause inflammation in some people.
Nightshade plants - tomatoes, eggplant, white potatoes, red bell peppers
Dairy - cheese, yogurt, milk, cottage cheese
Wheat/gluten - gluten-containing products, whole-wheat products
In the end, you must select foods that are right for your own body!
The goal of an anti-inflammatory diet is to eliminate foods that cause oxidative stress, and rather, consume foods rich in antioxidants.
And remember, these lists are not all-exclusive or all-inclusive. Just because a certain deep-friend favorite of yours is not specifically on this list, doesn’t mean it’s anti-inflammatory approved.
Recognizing that your personal food choices can and do have an impact on your inflammation is a great start. Developing that desire to improve your diet is an excellent beginning point as well.
Now, it’s time to put that desire into action! You can do this!
When it comes to reducing inflammation, the solution for one individual might not be the correct fit for another. Unfortunately, a diet is a bit of a trial-and-error process as you figure out what your body reacts to and dislikes.
Don’t become frustrated with the process. Keep going!
If you are looking for a healthcare team that can provide further information about thi anti-inflammatory diet, we are ready to help you.
Here at Paducah Rheumatology, reducing inflammation is our expertise!
Give us a call 270-408-6100 to set up a new patient appointment.