Inflammation is a natural response needed to repair anything that damages the body: injury, infections chemical exposure, and allergies. However, when the inflammatory response is inappropriate or excessive it can be the trigger for many chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, dementia and arthritis. Chronic fatigue, headaches, pain, arthritis, allergies, bowel problems, and cancer can all have an inflammatory component.
Diet and the Inflammation Connection
What we eat influences to a great degree how much inflammation is generated. Inflammatory foods lead to increased fatty acids that are used by the body in the inflammatory response. These include the omega 6 fats found in many processed foods and oils such as corn, soy or safflower. Excess sugar in the diet can also increase inflammation, especially in the vascular system contributing to our epidemic of heart disease.
The Adaptation Diet emphasizes the use of inflammation-controlling foods. Avoiding pro-inflammatory foods and emphasizing those that control inflammation can prevent many of today’s major epidemic degenerative diseases. Diet is the single most important factor in reducing inflammation and normalizing cortisol levels.
Below are lists of foods to avoid and foods to include to accomplish the goal of reduced inflammation:
Pro-inflammatory foods to avoid
Cold cuts, bacon, hot dogs, canned meats, sausages
Pork, beef (organically fed and free range is better), eggs (except organic and free range; no more than four per week, preferably just egg whites)
All trans fats in baked goods, chips, cake mixes, crackers, fried foods, shortenings, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
All deep-fried foods
Whole dairy products except from organically fed cows (low or moderate amounts of cultured dairy such as yogurt and kefir are acceptable)
Polyunsaturated oils (peanut, safflower, sunflower, soy, corn) and lard
White flour and white sugar products, including cookies, baked goods, candy, ice creams, ketchup, and other condiments
Caffeinated coffee, soft drinks, sweetened fruit drinks, black teas
Anti-inflammatory foods to include
Vegetables – Asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, bean sprouts, kale, spinach, lettuces (not iceberg), red onions, garlic, avocados (actually a fruit), cooked tomatoes (also a fruit), red and yellow peppers, squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, yams
Legumes – Soybeans (best as edamame, tempeh, tofu, miso soup), green beans, navy beans, mung beans, lentils, split peas, white beans, black beans (never refried beans)
Fruits – Red grapes, blackberries, cranberries, red currants, blueberries, cherries, apples, pears, plums, pineapple, mangoes, tangerines, grapefruit, oranges
Herbs – Turmeric, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, ginger
Protein – Wild salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, tuna (low mercury), mackerel, tilapia, cod, red snapper, organically raised poultry
Nuts and seeds (best raw and unsalted; can be used as nut butters) – Almonds, flaxseeds (best if ground), shelled pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds (tahini)
Grains – Buckwheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, steel-cut oats, smaller amounts of corn, whole wheat, rye
Beverages – Green tea, red wine (limit to one glass per day), herbal teas
In addition to the effects of phytonutrients (such as flavonoids, other polyphenols, and carotenoids on reducing inflammation and controlling cortisol) in these foods, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, copper, selenium, and other minerals and vitamins play a major role in normalizing cortisol and enhancing adaptation. Consider the use of a multivitamin/multimineral that provides adequate amounts of these nutrients.
If you’d like to learn more about anti-inflammatory foods (or The Adaptation Diet, in general), please call us and set up an appointment. Whether you’re interested in living a healthier lifestyle or you’re trying to overcome a chronic condition, we can help you get to your goals.