An Anti Inflammatory Diet for Long Term Health
No, it’s not a weight loss diet. You won’t drop 10 pounds in 10 days. But an anti inflammatory diet can add years to your life because it’s an eating plan proven to fight disease. It can also keep you younger, longer, by reducing inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is part of your body’s defense response. Anything from a bug bite to a virus to a broken bone will provoke an inflammatory response. Cells and chemicals are sent to the damaged area to start making repairs. And in a few days, healing has begun and inflammation dies down.
Chronic inflammation is different. It’s the same inflammatory response, but it never quiets down. It gets the immune system off balance, constantly calling for repair and ends up damaging healthy tissue. This false state of constant alert can happen as a result of stress, lack of (or too much) exercise and most of all – poor diet.
That’s why an anti inflammatory diet can calm things down. And it’s the ideal thing to do because chronic inflammation is now linked to many illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Just What is an Anti Inflammatory Diet?
Basically, it’s a diet that minimizes processed and fast foods and includes as many fresh foods as possible. Not exactly breaking news. The Mediterranean-style diet is a good example.
Individual foods are not really the focus. The overall pattern is more important. But knowing the difference between inflammatory foods and anti inflammatory foods can help you shift the balance. Here’s a quick overview:
Inflammatory foods – foods high in sugar like cake, candy and cookies; corn syrup; processed snack foods like crackers and chips; processed meats like bologna and hot dogs; fast foods; fried foods; refined carbohydrates.
Anti inflammatory foods – fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fatty fish, nuts, fresh spices, green tea.
Just remember, you never have to say never. Eliminate inflammatory foods you can live without and moderate the rest. Splurge on anti inflammatory foods you love and work as many others as you can into your diet. It will boost your body’s defense system and fight off disease.
And even though I said earlier that this is not a weight loss diet, you may notice some pounds dropping off.
The Science Behind the Anti Inflammatory Diet
As always, the scientific evidence (not popular opinion) is what prompts me to share health news with you. And some interesting research backs up the importance of an anti inflammatory diet.
A recent study tested male endurance athletes to see if removing foods high in carotenoids (yellow and orange ones like carrots and apricots) from their diets would restrict antioxidant levels in their blood and have an effect of inflammation. Endurance exercise prompts an inflammatory response, so this was an obvious way to trigger and measure inflammation.
The athletes were put through two experimental trials two weeks apart. They followed their usual diet on the first trial. In the second trial they were tested after a diet of restricted beta carotene. This meant limiting carotenoid by not eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
On the restricted diet, athletes not only showed more markers of inflammation upon testing, they perceived the same amount of exercise to be harder and take more effort. (1)
Another study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society bears this out. Three groups of non-smoking men were fed a diet of either low, medium or high amounts of fruits and vegetables – anti inflammatory foods – for four weeks. They were then tested for blood levels of C-reactive protein, an indication of inflammation.
Blood levels of vitamin C, E and carotenoids were also measured.
At the end of four weeks, those who ate the high amounts of fruits and vegetables had no change in vitamin C and E levels. But carotenoid levels were much higher. This corresponded with a significant drop in C-reactive protein in the blood. Researchers concluded that the carotenoid in the anti inflammatory foods (the fruits and vegetables), reduced the inflammation response in the body. (2)
Of course your mother told you all along you need to eat your fruits and vegetables. Now you know why. An anti inflammatory diet is an easy, enjoyable way to protect your health.
Please, remember to consult your personal physician before making changes to your diet, exercise or supplement routine.
Plunkett GA, Callister R, Watson TA, Garg ML, “Dietary antioxidant restriction affects the inflammatory response in athletes,” Br J Nutr: 1-6
Watzl G, Kulling SE, Moseneder J, Bath SW, Bub A, “A 4-wk intervention with high intake of carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruit reduces plasma C-reactive protein in healthy, non-smoking men,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 82, No 5, 1052-1058, Nov 2005
Dr. Blankstein has been practicing for over 30 years as a leading Cardiologist. Trained in traditional medicine and Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease, he knows the importance of good medical care. This consideration has allowed him to discover safe and natural ways of healing. His dedication to bringing the latest and best in health solutions to his patients and the public has given him the experience to research and develop proven natural remedies for many illnesses.