Dr. Kristen Mitteness
4 Step Approach to an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Updated: Dec 23, 2018
I recently introduced you to what it means to be chronically inflamed and how it very negatively affects your body. In addition to getting enough sleep and managing your stress, your diet has a huge impact on your overall inflammation. Although we all react just a a little bit differently to various foods, here's a simple 4 step approach to an anti-inflammatory diet. It will ensure the foods you eat create health and not sickness.
Step 1: Remove the junk. Sugar, grains, additives, sugary drinks and often dairy are inflammatory foods. We simply are not designed to eat them, especially in the quantities we are today. The average American eats 130 lbs of sugar a year. WHAT?!?! And that was published in 2012. I promise you we are eating more today. You do not need any sugar in your diet. Zip, zero, none. And processed grains? They are recognized in your body the same as sugar.
Just because you do not have a full fledged allergic reaction to a food when you immediately ingest in, does not mean it does not affect you. When these foods are causing inflammation, it may take a few days before you react to it. And they have a compounding affect. So, just because you don't notice any changes doesn't mean that after days, months and years of consuming the offenders you won't eventually have a problem. So, seriously, stop eating cereal, pancakes, french toast, donuts, bagels and Pop-Tarts for breakfast. You are setting your hormones and body up for disaster!
Step 2: Make sure you are eating enough of the good stuff. This includes lots of vegetables. Eat as many as you can stuff in your face. Eat them however you like. They can be raw, roasted, steamed or sauteed. Add some fat to them not only so they taste delicious, but also so you can absorb the fat soluble vitamins they contain (A, D, E, K). My favorite vegetables include onions, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower and 90% of the time I saute them in coconut oil. Experiment and try new things until you find the combination that you like best.
Eat ample amounts of animal proteins. I know not everyone is going to want to hear this, but as humans, we really do utilize animal proteins much better than plant proteins. And often, when we are craving sugar or grains we are usually just low on protein. Wild caught, pasture raised and grass fed are always your best options and can be found easier today than ever before. We're in the peak of farmer's market season and year round you can order from Harvest Moon Society or the St. Norbert Farmers' Market. Many local farms even deliver to the city once a month to bring you quality animal products. Ground meat is easy and versatile. Roasts can be put into a slow cooker with veggies, spices or tomato sauce. I've recently been making chicken nuggets with local chicken thighs to mix it up a bit. Each meal should consist of one palm size of protein. If you are trying to gain weight or mass opt for 2 palms worth of meat.
You should also be adding quality fats to your diet to keep your brain sharp and your cells communicating. All of your cells are surrounded by a layer of fat. You need fat to function well. It also tells your brain when you are full. Eat up.
Fruit, nuts, seeds, coffee, tea, vinegar, wild rice and coconut are other things you can eat, if you choose. At the end of the day, the more real, whole foods you consume, the less room there is for junk. By no means do I expect you to be perfect, but for most of us there is plenty of room for improvement. Eating this way ensures that you are reducing the inflammation in your body and enhancing your overall health.
Step 3: Repair your gut. When we eat crappy foods, are stressed out or are not sleeping well, our intestines and stomach become damaged. That "gut feeling" isn't just a hoax, it's a real thing. It is our second brain and needs to be taken care of. Our gut lining is only one cell thick. Ideally, it is supposed to keep any offending foods out of the rest of our body. However, if it is constantly damaged by poor food choices or stressful situations, the bad things that the gut lining should keep out, will actually leak into our system and wreak havoc.
This is what ultimately results in food sensitivities and other diet related symptoms. Steps 1 and 2 will give a good start in repairing the gut, but now we need to do a little more. Adding fermented foods and bone broth to your day are essential. Supplementing probiotics is a good choice, too. As always, you get what you pay for. If you are not going to purchase high quality supplements, save your money. We sell a variety of high quality supplements at Lifemark Nature Park Way.
Step 4: Give it time and be patient. This will not be a quick fix. Some days will be better than others. Be patient with yourself. You are making huge changes. Think of all of the years you have put in to get to where you are now. If you are diligent, you should see some improvement in 6 to 8 weeks. Your journey is not over, nor will it ever be. Keep testing out different foods. Notice how you feel after you eat.
Your health is a journey and it will last your entire life.