Lately, I have been receiving calls with questions about Anti-inflammatory diets. Clients have been told by their Doctor, Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian that following an Anti-inflammatory diet will help with their symptoms. And the natural response to being told to change your diet, is to go to Dr. Google, right?
Many people call me after googling their symptoms and an anti-inflammatory diet. They land on many pages and ads for the Anti-inflammatory Paleo (AIP) Diet, The Wahls protocol and The Mediterranean diet, to name a few. And then it gets confusing for them, which is usually the reason for reaching out to me.
AIP, The Wahls protocol and The Mediterranean diet are all variations of the Anti-inflammatory diet. But before, I get into explaining to you these diets, let’s go back to high school biochemistry.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural body response to protect and heal your body.
When your body experiences stress or identifies infections, irritants, or damaged cells, an inflammatory response is activated. The word inflammation comes from the Latin word “inflammo,” meaning “I set alight, I ignite.”
What is the difference between Acute and chronic inflammation?
Just like stress, your body’s inflammation response can be “acute” or “chronic.”
Acute inflammation is short-lived. Physical signs of acute inflammation include redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function. Short durations of active inflammation can help the body to heal injuries and infections.
Chronic inflammation sticks around for a long time. It can be silent and have no physical symptoms. When the inflammatory response lasts for a long time, it can damage the body over time, without any signs or symptoms at all. Chronic inflammation is often associated with several health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and excess body weight.
How does inflammation work?
1. Inflammation is a combination of your immune system’s response, blood vessels (arteries and veins) and other molecules called “free radicals” or also referred to as “oxidants.” Molecules are responsible for chemical reactions in the body.
Oxidants are highly reactive molecules that help to fight infectious agents, but also help cells to communicate that it needs to heal. Our body naturally balances oxidants and antioxidants (that come from our food). However, with chronic inflammation, too many oxidants are produced in the body, and there are not enough “antioxidants” to counteract the response. Too many oxidants can tip the balance and cause damage to healthy cells.
How can you reduce chronic inflammation?
Now that you are aware of your body’s natural response to inflammation, let’s discuss how you can reduce your chronic inflammation. Research studies have shown that improving nutrition and lifestyle can help reducing inflammation. The nutritional improvements include eating a healthy diet, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
The Anti-inflammatory diet
The Anti-inflammatory diet in the basic sense is a diet that includes a lot of vegetables, fruits focusing on antioxidants. Remember, antioxidants are needed to counteract the “oxidants” that created in your body as a result of inflammation.
The different versions of the anti-inflammatory diet such as the Anti-inflammatory Paleo Diet, The Wahls protocol and The Mediterranean diet, have variations in diet restrictions. All these diets have one main thing in common; they are all based on eating whole real foods.
Always remember that a nutritious diet for you will promote health, reduce your risk of many chronic diseases, and help reduce inflammation. All diet plans have restrictions, so it is essential to know which one fits best for your body.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is the most widely accepted one by health care professionals. Research studies have proven its support in health-promoting, emotional well-being improving, and life-extending properties.
The Mediterranean diet includes lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes; some fish, less red meat, whole grains, tree nuts, and dairy; and small amounts of olive oil, tea, cocoa, red wine, herbs, and spices. It is low in salt and has a low glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measure of how foods affect blood sugar levels. A low glycemic index means that the food in the Meditarean diet does not raise blood sugar very high.
The Mediterranean diet has shown to lower the risk of diabetes and adverse effects of obesity, even without weight loss. One of the reasons why it is thought to be because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Foods common in the Mediterranean diet contain foods that are both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. The components of the food include polyphenols, flavonoids, pigments, unsaturated fats (including omega-3s), vitamin E and selenium.
FUN FACT: Most people get the highest amount of dietary polyphenols from coffee and/or tea (but I don’t recommend a lot of cream and sugar).
Should I follow the Anti-inflammatory diet or the Mediterranean Diet?
Inflammation can be healthy if it is fighting an infection or healing a wound, but chronic inflammation is associated with many serious conditions.
There are a lot of nutrition issues that can contribute to chronic diseases. There are several ways they can do this; inflammation is just one of them.
The good news is that there are are several nutritional factors you can improve. These include eating less sugars and starches, eating more fish, nuts and dietary fibre. Even when we look at individual components in a portion of food, we should keep in mind that it’s the whole diet that creates a positive change. The Anti-inflammatory Diet and the Mediterranean Diet are scientifically proven to help you with inflammation and contribute to a healthy diet.
If integrating the Anti-inflammatory Diet or The Mediterranean Diet is something you would like to know more about, let’s chat. For a quick anti-inflammatory mean plan, try out the free 3-day trial of my anti-inflammatory meal plans that are gluten-free, light on grains, light on dairy, light on beans with focus on high-quality fats.
For a custom menu and coaching, I encourage you to book a free 15-minute consultation. I work with individuals, couples and families who are looking for ways to integrate healthy and nutritional balanced meals into their life. During our discussion, you can ask questions and discuss whether nutritional coaching or a meal plan is right for you. Book a time that works for your schedule by clicking here.