What is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet and What Are the Benefits?

Many people deal with a variety of illnesses and diseases and are struggling to find ways to cope with various side effects and ailments.  Chronic illness and disease is frustrating and amidst a myriad of medications and therapeutic treatments, people still seek ways to naturally deal with the symptoms of their diseases and the side effects of treatments.  What we put into our bodies directly impacts the way our bodies function.  The anti-inflammatory diet is being touted as a great way to treat what ails you, improve your body’s function and help prevent illness and disease.  While it cannot cure anything, it is a preventive measure and useful tool in combating illness and disease.  Fox News describes how inflammation effects the human body, “Chronic inflammation has started to become a buzzword in the health world as research builds indicating that it may be the cause of many serious illnesses, from heart disease to cancer. According to the National Institutes of Health there is direct connection between long-term inflammation and the development of dysplasia, or abnormal cell growth, which leads to cancer. There are many factors that can contribute to chronic inflammation including stress, toxins, genetic predisposition, lack of exercise and diet.”  So, what exactly is the anti-inflammatory diet and how does it benefit the body?

One of the key components of the anti-inflammatory diet is to use fresh, real food.  By starting with real food, you are already on the right track to improving your health.  The anti-inflammatory diet focuses on antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids as well as flavorful spices.  Antioxidants have been shown time and time again to be a helpful tool in preventing cancer so it is no surprise that the anti-inflammatory diet would choose to be high in antioxidants.  By reducing refined sugar and bad carbohydrates such as the carbohydrates found in white bread and pasta you help prevent inflammation in your body.  Antioxidant rich foods such as broccoli, berries, carrots, spinach, and green tea will help fuel your body and rid it of toxins.  Omega-3 fatty acids are wonderful for fighting depression, lowering blood pressure and also helps reduce inflammation in the body. Foods like salmon, flaxseed, avocado, hemp seeds and walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.  Other great things to eat while on the anti-inflammatory diet include high quality eggs, cheese, Asian mushrooms, edamame, tofu, tempeh, salmon, cod, sardines, olive oil, whole grains, beans, legumes, fruit, vegetables, tea and if you feel the need to indulge – red wine or plain dark chocolate.  The diet should also consist of a wide range of delicious spices and there is no need to shy away from the spicy ones.  In fact, the spicier the better.  WebMD explains how inflammation effects our overall health and gives a basic example of how to incorporate the anti-inflammatory diet into your life, “We always thought anything with an “itis” at the end involved inflammation,” he says, such as arthritis or appendicitis. But even the illnesses without an “itis” at the end, such as cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, even Alzheimer’s disease, may be triggered in part by inflammation, he says.  Sears calls inflammation a silent epidemic that triggers chronic diseases over the years. “You could feel fine but have high levels of inflammation,” he warns.  The average American diet, Greenfield says, includes far too many foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids, found in processed and fast foods, and far too few rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in cold-water fish or supplements. When that balance is out of whack, inflammation can set in, Sears explains.  Phytochemicals — natural chemicals found in the plant foods suggested on the diets — are also believed to help reduce inflammation… As one example of a day’s worth of anti-inflammatory eating, Cannon suggests a breakfast of toasted steel-cut oatmeal with berries, yogurt, or other topping and coffee or green tea. Lunch could be tuna salad on 7-grain bread and a smoothie with seasonal fruits. For a snack, try an ounce of dark chocolate and about four walnuts. Dinner could be spaghetti with turkey meat sauce, spinach salad with oranges and walnuts, and apple cranberry pie made without butter.”  Start by making positive diet changes and make a switch to the anti-inflammatory diet to experience all of the health benefits.

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