Inflammation is now considered the disease of the new millennium. It is responsible for such conditions as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, etc. Inflammation is also largely influenced by our lifestyles. The standard American diet promotes inflammation at every turn. It is important that you assess your diet and not only cut out the pro inflammatory foods, but to stock up on the anti-inflammatory foods.
Inflammation is usually associated with some sort of trauma like a car accident or a sprained ankle. However, in this day and age, inflammation is a result of repeated stresses to the body through poor diet. These “mini traumas” perpetuate and accumulate into the final result of some disease diagnosis. It is the repeated offenses that slowly build into the top killers Americans now face.
It is no longer possible to deny the correlation between diet and lifestyle and disease. Much of what Americans suffer from is completely preventable. So let’s take a look at what foods cause inflammation.
The major culprits are refined carbohydrates. This includes flour, sugar, and artificial sweeteners. Other pro-inflammatory foods are refined oils and even whole grains and legumes. People that are already suffering from an inflammatory disease can benefit greatly from eliminating all forms of grains and sugars. Some may think that it sounds like the Atkins diet but it is indeed different. The Atkins diet, although on to some benefits, misses the boat in several areas. The Atkins diet is indiscriminate about the types of meat and fat that are eating. This Healing Diet that I am referring to not only eliminates grains and sugars, but it specifies that the red meat must be grass fed and the fats must be good fats. Good fats include olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and avocados. For more information on the benefits of grass fed beef, go online and do a search. There will not be a lack of information.
This is how the typical American diet is distributed:
20% refined sugar
20% refined grains
20% refined oils
20% conventional meats (fed grain instead of grass)
10% fruits, vegetables, etc.
As you can see the bulk of the American diet is not bringing a lot of health! It is safe to say that most of what we eat is causing inflammation (and lots of other problems for that matter). The list of foods to avoid would take up pages and pages. Instead, let’s look at the foods that help prevent and correct inflammation.
The distribution of foods needs to be dramatically different. 80% of our diet should come from fruit, vegetables, raw nuts/seeds, good fats, wild caught fish, grass-fed beef, and organic, free range chicken. There are also several spices that have anti-inflammatory properties. They include: Ginger, Turmeric, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Basil, Cardamom, Chives, Cilantro, Cloves, Garlic, and Parsley.
So what to do? First, start taking a serious, honest look at your diet. Start a food diary and be sure to write down each and everything you are eating, the quantities, and even you mood/feelings when you were eating. You may be surprised how much the “bad” foods add up over the course of a week. After you have a week or so worth of data, identify areas for improvement. For instance, just eliminate soda as your first step. Trying to eliminate everything at once is usually too much for most people. For some, eliminating may not be the first step…just adding some healthier foods may be the way to go. For instance, if you are going to have coffee and a doughnut for breakfast, add an apple. Eat the apple first and you may not even have room for the doughnut. Over time you will want to tip the scales towards the anti-inflammatory, healthy foods. If you are eating 80% of your calories in this category, the occasional order of French fries won’t break the bank.
These days, being American is synonymous with being overweight and sick. It is time to break this trend and become the healthy, happy, vibrant people that will match the amazing American spirit. Each meal, each bite of food is a decision. It is an investment in your future. Don’t blow it!