If there’s one thing we know to be a primary cause of illness and disease, it’s inflammation. Not the kind of swelling and redness that can occur when you injure yourself or when your body is fighting infection—we’re talking about chronic systemic inflammation. A number of things can cause systemic inflammation, including stress and environmental toxins.
Your diet can be another major contributor to inflammation, but the good news is that you can choose foods that reduce inflammation while you also eliminate foods that contribute to it. Systemic inflammation is being called “the silent killer”, and healing cannot begin until inflammatory foods are removed from your diet.
If you don’t think altering your diet is worth it or that it’s too much trouble, think about just a few of the serious diseases where inflammation is a primary contributor to their root cause:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Many other autoimmune diseases
Other conditions caused by inflammation that can negatively impact your lifestyle include chronic flare-ups of existing health issues, joint pain, ADHD, autism, migraines, vertigo, digestive problems, hormone imbalances, and more.
If you’re ready to reduce the inflammation in your body to achieve optimum health, follow these 5 anti-inflammatory principles for at least 30 days, and note the positive changes you feel.
1. Go grain free, dairy free, and soy free.
These types of foods are inflammatory and contribute to many of the chronic and recurring symptoms and conditions mentioned above.
2. Eliminate starchy foods, simple carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, high glycemic index fruits, sweetened foods, etc.
Sugars affect insulin, hormones (cortisol), and brain health; they also cause cravings and weight gain. Some sugars, like artificial sweeteners, can be neurotoxins as well. Health issues linked to sugars include diabetes, Alzheimer’s, yeast overgrowth, cancer, and dysbiosis (an imbalance in the gut microbiota).
3. Introduce healthy fats, quality plant and animal proteins, and complex carbohydrates.
These types of foods can be utilized by the body at the cellular level to restore health. It’s especially beneficial to eat raw, steamed, poached, and lightly prepared meals because the enzymes, nutrients, and minerals remain intact; this will also increase your fiber intake.
4. Eat more frequently—up to every 2 or 3 hours and within an hour of waking.
As you change your eating habits from a carb/sugar-based diet to a fat-burning diet, you will be managing your blood sugar throughout the day. This results in more energy, clearer thinking, and lack of hunger; on the other hand, when your blood sugar isn’t regulated, you can have cravings, feel jittery, get headaches or feel hungry more often, which can lead to poor food choices.
5. Drink more water. Work up to drinking half your body weight in ounces—and herbal teas count!
Dehydration is a common condition—as many as 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. This can cause cravings, poor nerve flow, acidity, electrolyte imbalances and chronic inflammation. More importantly, water (as well as healthy fats) is an essential lubricant for metabolic processes that convert food into cellular energy. Water is also important for flushing toxins from the body.
Many people who strictly adhere to these anti-inflammatory principles see results after only the first couple of months. As their inflammation quickly subsides, pain and other symptoms are eliminated or greatly lessened while their health issues begin to be corrected.
Following an anti-inflammatory diet on a permanent basis will help you avoid many health problems, but if you don’t want to remain as strict after you reach your initial goal, you can slowly introduce certain foods one at a time to see if you have any negative reactions. (Omitting processed foods permanently is vital, as is omitting or greatly minimizing foods with added sugars.) However, keeping as close as possible to the optimum health blueprint and incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, wild-caught fatty fish (avoid farm raised fish), organic blueberries and red grapes, etc. into your family’s meal plans will play a big role in achieving your best possible health for years to come.