How we eat can either help to manage inflammation or cause inflammation to lead to more health problems. The foods and nutrients that tend to control inflammation are the ones I want to focus on today. (For an overview of how our health and inflammation is linked, check out my previous post.)
The best place to start is by choosing real, whole foods that are fresh, natural and/or organic. Our ancestors of eons ago ate this way and consequentially appeared to develop significantly less inflammatory diseases.
When you look at the way Paleolithic and hunter-gather societies ate in comparison to today in our Western society there is quite a contrast. A few examples: 1) They ate an average of 100 grams of fiber daily in vegetables and fruits (which is excellent). We eat about 20 grams of fiber daily, mostly from grains (not so excellent). 2) They never ate refined oils (terrific, again). Most of the oils we consume are refined (not so terrific). 3) Their ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids was about 1:1 (an ideal ratio). Our ratio is about 20:1 (not even close to ideal).
While I’m not promoting a particular diet or one certain eating style, I am suggesting that in many ways our ‘highly processed’ eating has led us away from a more natural and healthy eating style that was once common.
Let’s take a closer look at a couple of these areas where most of us have room for improvement — namely, vegetables and fruits and omega-3 fatty acids. Our standard American diet tends to be consistently low in both of these. To begin to correct this deficiency, and promote the body’s anti-inflammatory response, eat more of these foods and nutrients.
Eat MORE Vegetables and Fruits. Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants galore!
Eat more vegetables and fruits – whole, fresh, fresh frozen and organic (when possible). I think it would be safe to say that at least three-fourths of Americans are still lacking in the minimum of five servings a day. Five to ten servings a day would be much better. Choose mostly from the high-fiber, non-starchy ones. That would include vegetables such as, spinach, cucumbers, broccoli, green beans, and kale and fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, and kiwi, just to name a few.
We could improve our omega-3 intake by including more fish, especially cold water varieties like salmon and sardines. You might add some tuna, halibut or cod for variety. The omega-3 content is a little lower but they are still good choices. Flaxseed oil and fresh, ground flaxseeds would add some omega-3 fatty acids as well.
Excess omega-6 fatty acids tend to have a pro-inflammatory effect. The simplest way to reduce these is by switching from any store bought processed cooking oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower or canola to extra-virgin olive oil which is much healthier.
Chronic inflammation and inflammatory disorders are linked to our dietary habits. We can influence our body’s inflammatory response to some degree with our every day food choices. How about trying a simple meal like this: Broiled Salmon with Steamed Broccoli and a Fresh Fruit Salad?
Why not start today?