If you have a chronic illness or autoimmune disease, you may have heard a lot about the benefits of following an anti-inflammatory diet. A growing body of evidence suggests that inflammation is often a driving force in the symptoms of autoimmune disease such as joint pain, headaches, skin rashes and fatigue. By decreasing the amount of oxidative stress and inflammation in your body, you may improve your symptoms and feel your best. In this article, I will explain the benefits of eating an anti-inflammatory diet.
What is an anti-inflammatory diet?
An anti-inflammatory diet includes healthy fats, colourful fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, whole grains and legumes, seafood and good quality meat. A great example of this is the Mediterranean diet, famous for its extra virgin olive oil, an assortment of vegetables and fruits including arugula, artichokes and mushrooms, figs and avocados, and seafood such as octopus, clams and sardines.
Processed foods that are laden with sugar, preservatives and additives, are likely to be pro-inflammatory. As much as anti-inflammatory eating is about which foods you bring into your diet, it is also essential to take out foods that cause inflammation to restore your body.
In addition to this, inflammation might be triggered by certain foods you are eating, so it is crucial to identify any foods that might be making your symptoms worse which you can track in a food and symptoms journal. The usual suspects to watch for are gluten, dairy and grains, which may need to be removed from your diet momentarily while restoring your health.
In some instances, these foods might not cause symptoms that seem unrelated, such as headaches, fatigue and depression, or you might not have any symptoms at all. In this scenario, using functional testing with a nutritional therapist or health practitioner will help identify whether you have an underlying food intolerance or sensitivity. This type of testing is offered at The Autoimmunity Nutritionist clinic.
How does an anti-inflammatory diet reduce inflammation?
Low-grade systemic inflammation is often associated with leaky gut syndrome, increased oxidative stress, and a high toxic or viral load. The anti-inflammatory diet provides nutrients that help support the detoxification process in the body to help clear toxins and provide lots of gut nourishing foods. In addition, the high amount of antioxidants found in colourful plants helps to neutralise the damage of free radicals and decrease oxidative stress.
Removing processed foods also helps prevent further damage so that the natural healing can begin, so you enjoy the full benefit of the diet.
Why do colourful fruits and vegetables help inflammatory conditions?
Colourful plant-based foods contain antioxidants and phytonutrients which support detoxification and healing in the digestive system, liver and kidney. Phytonutrients may help bring down inflammation and regulate your stress levels. Although both fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, it is easy to overconsume fruits as we are drawn to their sweet flavour, so eating more vegetable than fruits is vital to reap the benefits of the micronutrients without the detriment of inflammatory sugars.
There is even a scale called the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC), which measures the antioxidant potential of a food. This scale is not used commercially as there is insufficient evidence to support the health benefits of a foods ORAC. As a result, there is no specific recommended daily allowance for antioxidants, but given their potential benefits with oxidative stress and inflammation, eating foods with a higher ORAC may be advantageous. Foods with a high ORAC include oregano, acai berry, cocoa, sumac and Indian gooseberry.
It’s not just about anti-inflammatory eating.
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet will put you in a better position to heal, but diet alone is not enough when it comes to managing symptoms of chronic illness. As well as eating a whole food healthy diet, remember that fostering healthy relationships with yourself and others, giving yourself time to meditate and think, and recognising small wins and joy will also help restore your body so that you can regain your strength and start living a symptom-free life.
If you would like to start improving your health today, why not book in for a free discovery call to see whether the services I offer might be right for you. You can book your appointment here.
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