Tips for Eating the Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods
As the name suggests, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, means there is inflammation in the body, particularly the colon and/or digestive tract. And while there are plenty of medications that IBDers can take to suppress the inflammation we may also be able to help reduce inflammation in our body via the choices we make about the foods we eat.
Health experts such as Ed Bauman, M.Ed., Ph.D from Bauman College; Barry Sears, MD, of the Zone Diet; and, Andrew Weil, MD; see anti-inflammatory diets as ideal for overall good health, and especially helpful for those individuals who have illness or disease caused by inflammation such as IBD, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Russell Greenfield, MD, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the average American diet contains far too many processed and fast foods with too many omega-6 fatty acids and not nearly enough omega-3 fatty acids (known to be anti-inflammatory). When we continue to eat inflammatory foods, the body continues to be inflamed and that inflammation can build and cause illness and disease. By eating anti-inflammatory foods we can help the body to fight inflammation, regain its balance, and ward off illness.
So, the question becomes which foods are helpful and which foods should we avoid?
Anti-Inflammatory Foods include:
- Cold Water Fish – wild salmon, mackerel, cod, herring, and sardines are very high in anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids. Eat 2-6 servings/week.
- Pasture Raised Beef, Bison, Poultry, Eggs & Cheese – 2-4 servings/week.
- Nuts & Seeds – especially, walnuts, chia, flax, and hemp seeds are also high in Omega-3 fats . 1-2 servings/day.
- Vegetables – especially cruciferous – broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts; dark leafy greens, and yellow, orange, and red veggies – contain carotene and antioxidants that help decrease levels of free radicals in the blood which could trigger the inflammatory response. Eat 4-5 servings/day
- Fruits – especially those that are dark red, purple, and blue in color. 2-4 servings/day.
- Good Fats include olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds, avocadoes
- Whole Grains such as long grain rice, millet, amaranth, quinoa – 1-2 servings/day
- Spices and Herbs such as turmeric, rosemary, ginger, garlic, oregano, and cayenne contain anti-inflammatory compounds. 2-4 serving per day
- Green & Herb teas – 1-2 cups per day.
- Asian Mushrooms
- Whole Soy Foods such as tofu, tempeh, & edamame
Pro-Inflammatory foods that should be Eliminated from the diet include:
- Fast foods
- Junk foods
- Fatty, conventionally raised meats & eggs – these increase the production of arachidonic acid that leads to inflammation. These meats also come from animals who have been raised on antibiotics, toxins, pesticides, and synthetic hormones, which you then eat as well.
- Processed/Packaged cold cuts, meats, sausages, bacon, and cheeses – these are filled with preservatives, artificial flavors and colors and nitrates that are very hard for the body to process causing inflammation and free radical damage.
- White sugar
- White flour
- Hydrogenated Trans Fats, partially hydrogenated oils, and margarines are very high in Omega-6 fatty acids which compete with Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Artificial Sweeteners – including diet foods that contain these sweeteners
- Refined breads, pastry, and pasta
- Commercial Dairy products – milk, yogurt, cheese – again, depending on what the cows are being fed you may be drinking and eating foods laced with chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics.
A day of eating an Anti-Inflammatory diet might look something like this:
Breakfast: Sautéd Swiss chard, onions, mushrooms, & tomatoes topped with cumin/turmeric spiced black beans and poached egg;
Chai tea made with fresh cinnamon, ginger, cloves, & green tea + nut milk (optional).
Lunch: Millet sautéd with garlic, Spring Mix Greens, Edamame, Tarragon, and Roasted Red Peppers topped with chopped walnuts & 3 oz. roasted Chicken breast.
Dinner: Beef or Bison burger served on Grilled Portobello Mushroom w/ sliced tomato, radish sprouts & raw Russian dressing; Baked Sweet Potato fries; Broccoli & Carrots steamed with garlic & ginger with a splash of miso.
While changing how you eat can be difficult, it might be easier to slowly change out a few foods at a time for better anti-inflammatory choices. As you slowly make these changes your taste buds and body will adapt and actually begin to crave cleaner, more nutrient-dense foods that are found in an anti-inflammatory diet.