Healthy Byte: Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Originally Posted HERE

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Why eat anti-inflammatory foods?

Inflammation is the body’s response to injury and disease — like when you have swelling and redness around a wound or twisted joint, or fever while your immune system battles an illness. In the short run, inflammation can be helpful. However, chronic inflammation has been linked to a range of conditions, and some evidence indicates lifestyle — including what we eat — may contribute to inflammation. “The role of chronic inflammation in various diseases — obesity, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, certain cancers — is fairly well-accepted in the scientific community,” says Whitney Linsenmeyer, an assistant professor of nutrition at Saint Louis University and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Naturally, people are looking towards dietary changes to reduce inflammation and promote overall health and immunity.”

Don’t exclude whole groups of foods — or limit yourself to just a few.

Some fad diets may claim to be anti-inflammatory. But experts say eating patterns with the most science behind them, like the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (the acronym stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension), are your top choices for an anti-inflammatory diet. They include a broad range of proven-healthy foods you probably have been told to eat since you were young, which research indicates are also anti-inflammatory foods. (Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet, based on the Mediterranean diet, with a few added elements like anti-inflammatory green tea, is also OK — but expert panelists convened by U.S. News didn’t rank the diet nearly as highly as the Mediterranean or DASH diets.) Here are some anti-inflammatory foods — as well as some foods that may contribute to inflammation:

Antioxidant-infused fruits and vegetables

Foods generally considered anti-inflammatory have been proven to be healthy — for any number of reasons. Case in point: fruits and veggies. We know from reams of research that they’re good for us, even if it’s still not clear to what extent anti-inflammatory properties may deserve credit. To hedge your bets, choose colorful fruits and veggies that are high in antioxidants:

— For flavonols, try broccoli, kale and berries.

— For beta carotene, consider red and orange peppers.

— Get your vitamin C from citrus fruits and winter squash.

The bottom line: It’s hard to go wrong with fruits or veggies, including tomatoes, which are sometimes cut from so-called anti-inflammatory diets despite being rich in antioxidants, and avocados, a great plant-based anti-inflammatory source of fat.

Whole grains

In addition to lots of fruits and vegetables, diets considered to be anti-inflammatory are usually rich in whole grains, such as wheat, oats and quinoa, Linsenmeyer notes. These and other whole grains like brown rice and barley are a great source of fiber, as are fruits and vegetables — especially raspberries, apples, peas and broccoli. The dietary inflammatory index, a review of research on foods that are anti-inflammatory and those that seem to promote inflammation, puts fiber squarely in the first camp.

Beans

Beans are another fiber-rich food firmly in the category of lean proteins. Dietary experts like Tamara Randall, a registered dietitian nutritionist and instructor of nutrition at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, say these should be considered as part of a healthy anti-inflammatory diet. Black, kidney, pinto and other beans are a great complement to any diet.

Omega-3-packed fatty fish like salmon

Omega-3 fatty acids not only battle inflammation, they’re also good for brain health. Foods high in omega-3 include fish, nuts (especially walnuts) and plant oils like flaxseed oil. However, the two most beneficial forms of omega-3 — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — come mainly from fish. The best sources for omega-3s are fatty seafoods, which include salmon, albacore tuna and shellfish. Experts generally recommend having fish twice per week, or around 200 to 500 milligrams of EPA or DHA total. Talk with a doctor about whether supplementation is recommended if you don’t eat fish.

Walnuts and other nuts

Another food that’s anti-inflammatory and high in a different form of omega-3 fatty acids (called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA) is walnuts. In fact, just a small handful, or one ounce, of English walnuts contains more than 2 1/2 grams of ALA. While nuts in general are a healthful feature of anti-inflammatory diets like the Mediterranean diet, walnuts lead the pack in omega-3 content. Researchers studying the effects of eating walnuts “have found they lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and arthritis,” notes the Arthritis Foundation, adding that studies suggest monounsaturated fats in an almond-rich diet also lower some markers of inflammation, including CRP.

Oils

Featured in the traditional Mediterranean diet, olive oil is a source of healthy fat that’s also anti-inflammatory, Randall notes. Alternatively, a person wishing to eat an anti-inflammatory diet may sparingly use safflower or sunflower oil as well, she suggests. Use oils in moderation, like a tablespoon for cooking or as dressing for a salad. Flaxseed oil, which contains 7 grams of ALA per tablespoon, is another great anti-inflammatory option.

Herbs and spices

In addition to keeping dishes flavorful, herbs and spices are also considered part of a dynamic anti-inflammatory diet. Linsenmeyer especially recommends turmeric and ginger, which many studies find to be anti-inflammatory. Other herbs and spices recommended for their anti-inflammatory properties include cinnamon, cumin, chili peppers, garlic, clove, rosemary, sage and oregano, she says.

Limit sugar.

A diet that’s high in sugar is more inflammatory, says Joan Salge Blake, a professor of nutrition at Boston University and a U.S. News contributor. Still, Salge Blake, like many dietary experts, cautions against trying to cut things entirely out of the diet. Besides being difficult to sustain and usually unnecessary, extreme dietary changes or restrictions can lead to disordered eating. That said, limiting cakes, cookies and soda — what have become everyday indulgences for many — is key to strike a balance. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting calories from added sugars to about 12 teaspoons (for a 2,000 calorie diet) per day. By comparison, the average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of sugar daily, and many have much more than that.

Limit refined carbohydrates.

Go easy on refined carbs such as white bread and crackers, which may also contribute to inflammation. In addition, sweets like doughnuts and pastries — with refined carbs and lots of refined sugar — are a double whammy if you’re trying to avoid inflammatory foods. If you’re a pasta fan, consider a whole-grain pasta over white, refined pasta. Generally speaking, whole foods are best — and highly processed, carb-heavy foods should be limited.

Avoid processed meat and red meat high in saturated fat.

An added benefit of consuming healthy fats is that you’re crowding out — or limiting — unhealthy ones in your diet that may be inflammatory, such as fatty red meats and processed meat like hot dogs and bacon. “So you’re eating a fish — a source that is very low in saturated fat and may be displacing in your diet a protein source that’s very high in saturated fat,” Salge Blake says. If you’re craving meat, look for lean proteins like poultry or leaner cuts of grass-fed beef, which may also be a good source of omega-3s.

Avoid trans fats.

Due to public health concerns, factory-made trans fats — aka partially hydrogenated oil — are mostly gone from foods today. Still, because of the risk they pose — like raising “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and the role they play in inflammation — it’s still worth double-checking food labels to make sure they don’t sneak into your diet. Trans fats are sometimes still included in processed baked goods and fried foods — essentially fare you’ll want to avoid or limit.

Alcohol in moderation and everything in context

Having a glass of wine with dinner isn’t discouraged with diets like the Mediterranean. But drinking in excess can increase inflammation, Salge Blake says. (The U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines suggest having no more than one drink per day for women and two daily for men.) Ultimately, if you’re trying to reduce inflammation and improve your health through diet and lifestyle, the point is to consider everything you eat and drink. Look at the big picture of your lifestyle. “You can’t say, ‘OK, I’m going to have salmon two meals a week, and then I’m going to smoke and take in excess alcohol, be overweight and (not) eat any fruits and vegetables,” Salge Blake stresses. “That’s not going to work.”

What to eat on an anti-inflammatory diet

— Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.

— Whole grains.

— Beans.

— Salmon and other fatty fish.

— Walnuts.

— Olive oil and flaxseed oil.

— Herbs and spices, including turmeric and ginger.

Healthy Byte: Day 1010

2015 10-10 M

Recently the office threw a surprise wedding party for a coworker and there was a beautiful chocolate cake with whipped icing fashioned in the wedding color scheme. The icing had a stunning diamond ring motif made of more icing and the pale lavender and purple whipped icing was a gorgeous contrast to the dark chocolate once the cake.

The hostess who coordinated the party was cutting and dispensing out slices of cake. Everyone had taken their appropriated slice and there were 2 left. She started to hand me a plate and I said “no thank you” with a smile. Her eyes got wide and asked “Whhyy?”and I respond with another smile.

A coworker sitting next to me gave me a sheepish look and said, “you’re being so good.”

I looked back at her nonchalantly and said, “it’s not about being good or bad.”

“It’s about the decisions that you make,” she interjected proudly before continuing.

“And I am making a very different decision from you” she finished just before she shoves a particular large bite of cake in her mouth.

What I really wanted to explain to her was that the truth of the matter is that I simply didn’t want to eat a piece a cake at that particular moment. ‘Didn’t want’ not as in I craved it and was purposely overcoming my urges and denying myself. No. ‘Didn’t want’ as in I genuinely had no desire, zero, zilch, nada. A notion which I am increasingly discovering is something so incredibly foreign that I may as well trying to explain the time continuum string theory. Many are simply unable to comprehend the concept of not ‘wanting’ to eat cake and actually mean it, much less accept.

And I was fully aware that when I turned down the piece of cake that my decision made many of the ladies very uncomfortable. I can see them rolling their eyes at me, some internally, some out right and that is okay. I refuse to be pressured to eat something when I have no desire for it. Random, frequent, forced social eating is one of the many habits which can easily lead me back to being obese. And their visual uncomfortableness is not really a reflection on me, personally. No. Their uncomfortableness resonates from their displeasure with their own choices but cleverly deflected on to me. I am okay with that too.  

I am constantly frustrated with people’s misguided definition of what healthy living. healthy eating, healthy choices are. There seem to be a disconnect between the widely ill conceived truth from the actual reality. I think it is fairly common for people to think healthy = 100% compliance 100% of the time 0% indulgence. But the reality is if anyone only commits to healthy choices at 75% of the time, it would still make an impact on their overall health. A concept which alludes many, while most refuse to acknowledge operating under the ‘all or nothing’ mentality. Which is a real shame.

Day 1000

I also wanted to thank everyone who shared in my momentous 1000-day MFP milestone. I have been oddly quiet because to be quite frank I was internally having mini panic attacks of failure and reverting back to 3 years ago.

As I have mentioned, my recent food experiment was an epic fail and it took me about 3 weeks to fully resolve the issues from it  and feel better. It was one of my worse experiment failures to date. So here’s what happened and forgive me of violating TMI rule but I hope it will help others.

Since I have lost the weight and started to concentrate more on strength training, I have habitually been heavy on my proteins as all hours of research suggests (macros: F 30 C 30 P 40). However, the additional portions protein was causing some severe constipation where I have had to resort to using a laxative once or sometimes twice a week. I knew laxatives were very harsh on the system so I did more research for other alternatives. Many suggest the first step is try to introduce more fiber through real foods. But since I have FODMAP sensitivity I am limited to what I can implement into my eating repertoire that is high in fiber. I literally consume as much vegetables at lunch and dinner in hopes for a natural remedy but It did nothing. So fiber supplements was the next recommended approach to try this is where the downward spiral started.

Day 980 2

I knew exactly how this frog feels! LOL

Without considering my own height & weight or additional research I simply dived in head first and took 2 gummy supplements at one time (according to the directions on the bottle). The very next day I was so ungodly uncomfortably bloated that I was literally busting out of my jeans! I decided to split the dose to one in the morning and one at night – still felt like I was a gazillion pounds. Then I cut the gummies into quarters and took one quarter in the morning and one at night. I didn’t feel worse but I certainly didn’t feel better. I did this for about a week or trying to ‘tough it out’ because it did provide the relief I was seeking otherwise. But after the scale tipped passed my ‘caution’ weight I decided that it was not working for me.

SO I stopped the fiber supplements and adopted a somewhat vegetarian eating regimen. Instead of my standard 8 oz or chicken or pork for dinner, I opted for salmon or tuna. I reduced my onion (FODMAP) consumption to about ¼ of what it was and concentrated on eating very clean for 2 weeks – no snacks, no extra carbs, clean.

I finally dropped back down to my usual weight range and I felt SO much better. All my clothes fit comfortably around the waist again and I have only recently started to snack again but very very cautiously.

It was a terrifying experience because when I see that number on the scale I had to consciously fight my panic instinct to cut calories. It is very different to understand intellectually that the weight was not fat weight but water weight and be aware that emotionally the oompa loompa sometimes can still try to hijack logic.

Moral of the story is, if you need extra fiber try natural ingredients first. If you have to go to a supplement, start slow – do NOT boom – take the full dose all at once to begin with. And only as a last resort go to a laxative.