What Is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Why Is It Beneficial to Those in Recovery?
A healthy lifestyle begins with a healthy diet. Living an unhealthy lifestyle will eventually catch up with you and the more stress that is put on your body, from both external and internal sources, the more lifestyle changes will need to occur for optimal wellness. All these stressors cause inflammation in our body. The more inflammation in our body, the more likely we are to get sick, it’s that simple.
When it comes to our diet, there are some foods that are more inflammatory than others. Some of the most common culprits are:
- Sugar – more specifically processed sugar. The sugar that is naturally found in fruit is fine to consume, it’s the added sugar that has inflammatory properties.
- Refined carbohydrates – White processed breads, cereals, cookies, snack foods.
- Trans Fats – No one should be consuming these fats as they are the worst type of fat to consume. Trans fats not only cause inflammation, but they are also known to increase your “bad “cholesterol and “lower” your good cholesterol, putting you at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Trans fats are rarely found in nature and the majority of them are man-made.
- Saturated fats found in animal and full fat dairy products.
- MSG – A food additive used to enhance flavor in many processed foods.
- Aspartame – An artificial sweetener commonly found in diet sodas.
- Vegetable oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids such as safflower, soybean, corn, sunflower oils.
- Gluten – commonly found in such grains as barley, rye and wheat.
Eliminating food sources that are pro-inflammatory is one way to decrease the inflammation in your body but incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet are essential. So, what type of foods should you include in your diet to decrease the inflammation in your body? Here are a few to get you started:
- Food’s high in antioxidants, micronutrients and fiber such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Consume more healthy fats found in avocados, olives, coconuts, ghee and their oils.
- Eat more fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel.
- Consume more nuts and seeds such as walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, cashews, almonds and brazil nuts.
- Increase your intake of beans and legumes.
- Use spices such as turmeric and ginger when you cook.
- Green tea.
- Dark chocolate.
- This last one is not a food but just as important. Get some sleep! If you are not getting an adequate amount of sleep, it can worsen the inflammation in your body despite your new food choices.
~Andrea Morganstein MS, RDN ,LDN, CDCES
Andrea Morganstein MS, RD, LDN, CDCES, is our dietician at Destination Hope in Fort Lauderdale FL. Andrea works with our clients to tailor nutrition and diet plans that suits their needs within a few days of entering treatment. She works with our chef and clinical plan to support the treatment process and return our clients to health and nutritional balance.