The Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Cooling the “Fires” Within

Organic fruit and vegetables

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Inflammation is one of the big buzzwords in the holistic medical community, and evidence is mounting that chronic inflammation is at the root of many, if not most, disease states. Most people associate inflammation with conditions such as arthritis and IBS, but we are increasingly coming to understand that it is also connected to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Processed Foods and GMOs

Americans are living more and more disconnected from their natural food sources, and our diets are increasingly made up of processed foods, excess sugars and fats, and genetically modified foods. This is a recipe for chronic inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet can quiet symptoms, and turn back the tide on many health issues, with the added benefits of increased energy and, in many cases, weight loss.

Basic Guidelines

Ample Organic Vegetables and Fruits: Eat 9 servings a day of a rainbow of cooked and raw vegetables, choosing from each color family and extra from the leafy greens. Eat 2 to 4 servings of fresh fruit, including apples, pears, and plenty of berries for fiber and antioxidants.

Whole Grains: Eat at least 3 servings per day of brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, or buckwheat (as well as whole wheat berries, kamut, spelt, and oats if gluten is not an issue). Small amounts of rice noodles, soba or udon, as well as organic and gluten-free pasta, can be consumed 2 or 3 times a week. Baked flour is not part of an anti-inflammatory diet.

Beans, Legumes, and Plant-Based Proteins: One or two servings of beans and one serving of tofu, tempeh, edamame or seitan (the latter only if gluten is tolerated) per day.

Wild Seafood: Wild Pacific salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring, and some shellfish. Avoid farm-raised Atlantic salmon, and purchase wild-caught or sustainably farmed seafood whenever possible.

Other Proteins: If tolerated, 1 to 2 servings per week of organic, free-range eggs; sheep or goat milk products; or 1 serving of organic meat such as skinless chicken, turkey or lamb.

EFA’s and Healthy Fats: Essential fatty acids are an important key to quelling inflammation, and can be taken in the form of purified fish oil, krill oil, black currant seed, borage, or omega flax oils. A small handful of nuts and/or seeds each day, especially walnuts, flax, chia, hemp or almonds are beneficial. Brazil nuts contain high amounts of selenium (only eat 2 to 3). Grapeseed oil (which has been used in Italy for ages) is excellent for cooking. Use olive, avocado, walnut, hazelnut, and sesame oils for dressings and flavor. Keep avocado and nut oils refrigerated as they become rancid easily. Keep in mind that soy, corn, canola, and blended oils are usually genetically modified and contribute to inflammation.

Beverages: Drink plenty of filtered or high-quality well water, as well as green tea.

Healthy Desserts: Very small portions of dry fruit, fruit sorbet, fruit kanten, or a few squares of dark chocolate are all acceptable options. Dry fruit should be organic, unsulphured and unsweetened. If you eat chocolate, make sure it is organic and at least 70% cacao.