Ultimate Prevention with the Anti-Inflammatory Diet
One of the consistent findings with health problems is inflammation. You see it with diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and especially with COVID. Any disease entity that has “--itis” at the end of the word, such as sinusitis, esophagitis, bronchitis, carditis, gastritis, colitis, actually have the concept of inflammation embedded in its very name.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP OF INFLAMMATION TO ONE’S DIET?
You can simply divide foods into two categories: God’s naturally available foods- all living and growing in nature and man’s processed foods- that are manufactured from either natural sources or a laboratory. While God’s natural foods as a whole are inflammation neutral, man’s processed foods are highly inflammatory. Inflammation in man’s foods is caused from a combination of an exaggerated amount of sugar, bad inflammatory fats, and lack of fiber along with all the coloring agents and preservatives to effectively extend shelf life. Unfortunately, the artificial nature of these foods along with the high heat processing done de-natures or greatly reduces any nutritional benefits from the ingredients used.
“One rule of thumb” is that if the bugs won’t eat it, neither should you! Essentially for the benefit of taste and convenience with man’s processed foods, we pay the high price of more frequent illnesses, a lower life expectancy, and eventually more expensive medical bills.
SO, IS THE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET A HIGHLY RESTRICTED DIET?
Actually, the Anti-Inflammatory diet is minimally restricted for most individuals reducing primarily the amount of sugar intake. Any other restrictions have to do with genetic food intolerances, such as with dairy or gluten, which relate with such medical conditions as eczema, and psoriasis, irritable bowel disease. All vegetables are acceptable due to a combination of the high amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber present.
Grains typically cooked at home, such as brown rice, quinoa, or oatmeal, have fiber which both cleanses the colon and acts as a pre-biotic for one’s gut flora. On the contrary, bread, pasta, tortillas, and pastry goods are high in carbohydrates, much lower in fiber, thus making them much more inflammatory to the body. Many people though must avoid gluten grains probably because of the higher gluten content in American products. Good gluten alternatives are corn, brown rice, gluten-free oats, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, teff and sorghum. Unfortunately, gluten-free products are inflammatory due to being highly processed and high in carbohydrates. Interestingly, many individuals report good tolerance of gluten products when traveling abroad.
Whole fruit and berries, though higher in carbohydrate than vegetables, have the redeeming properties of being high in the amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber present. Dried fruit and fruit juice is discouraged due to the combination of having a high sugar index and low fiber content. Regarding eggs and animal protein, the primary concern is to have the animals raised free-range and organic so as to be more nutritionally rich and avoid toxins such as hormones and pesticides. Likewise, dairy products such as butter, yogurt, cheese and milk should be organic avoiding processed forms with fruit or other additives. For those that are dairy sensitive organic forms such as butter and yogurt are often tolerated.
The main liquid advised for optimal health is bottle or filtered water which has less chlorine and fluorine than tap water. For some people, adding natural flavoring to one’s water can be done with a slice of lemon, lime, or adding cucumber or strawberries to a pitcher of water. Most other beverages are acidic in nature further adding to inflammation of the body.
IS THE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET GOOD FOR EVERYONE?
Sometimes further modifications need to be made temporarily for individuals who have conditions such as irritable bowel disease or what is called a “leaky gut.” These individuals typically have genetic challenges related to the inability to fully digest one or more foods. For such ongoing digestive problems, I recommend being tested for IgG delayed food sensitivities along with a consultation to formulate a specific dietary plan.
Additionally, some individuals, due to having a leaky gut, need a highly restrictive diet relating to carbohydrate restriction known as a FODAMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) Diet. These individuals benefit from strictly avoiding carbohydrates for several months to normalize their abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and/or constipation is more normalized.
Finally, some individuals, especially during chemotherapy have what I call a “tender tummy,” need to avoid raw vegetables and primarily have cooked vegetables as in soups or stews till their digestion improves.
WHAT ABOUT INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Intermittent fasting has become a popular way of dieting and for good reason since fasting is the most efficient way of lowering insulin levels because there is no food at that time to metabolize. I have found that generally people fall into two metabolic camps: in the sense that one either is challenged more with needing to lose weight (fuel efficient), or needing more to gain weight (fuel inefficient). For those that are looking at losing weight (fuel efficient) eating 2 meals, or less daily is both an efficient and effective way to control metabolism and accomplish weight loss. On the other hand, those individuals who have challenges gaining weight (fuel inefficient) do best with 3 meals and possibly a healthy snack.
One thing individuals who are needing to lose weight (fuel efficient) or needing to gain weight (fuel inefficient) have in common is that consuming inflammatory man-made processed foods will make their conditions worse.
WHAT OTHER FACTORS CAUSE INFLAMMATION IN OUR GUT?
Some individuals due to various factors develop a breakdown in their digestive lining know as a “leaky gut.” The two major factors that cause chronic inflammation are food intolerances and an imbalance of one’s gut microorganisms. Food factors can be evaluated by a combination of patient’s history of food intolerances, testing for food allergies (IgE), food sensitivities (IgG), and digestive inflammatory markers. Similarly, imbalances of micro-organisms can be tested by various means such as presence of gas in the small intestine as well as evaluation of microorganisms present through PCR testing.
Effective treatment can come from eliminating any problematic inflammatory foods, the addition of probiotics to balance gut flora, and the addition of supplements to reduce gut inflammation to heal the leaky gut lining. In the case of the presence of parasites, or excess yeast, either herbal therapy or prescriptive medicine will need to be used depending on the overall condition of the patient.
WHAT OTHER HEALTH CONDITIONS ARE AFFECTED BY AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET?
As initially mentioned, all health conditions that end with “--it is” relate to an increase of inflammation present and can be significantly improved, if not cured, by reducing the overall load of inflammation in the body. The more chronic the condition, the more health problems involved are directly related to the total amount of inflammation in one’s body. The first and best place to start with any condition is with the reduction of man’s processed inflammatory foods. Every doctor has been taught that the first line of therapy for all health conditions whether it is digestive, diabetes, heart disease, or even cancer is with an improved diet. Realistically, who would ever spend the time or energy to remodel their house with poor materials?
THE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY EFFECTS OF USING ACUPUNCTURE AND OSTEOPATHIC THERAPY.
Acupuncture has a long history of being helpful in treating pain and inflammation in the body. Certain meridians such as the Stomach, Spleen/Pancreas, Liver, Gallbladder, Small Intestine, and Large Intestine are specifically useful to select points from. Additionally, worth considering are the “Master of the Heart” and “Triple Heater” meridians of the body which have been seen to relate to the autonomic nervous system.
Acupuncture helps with circulation through the nervous system while Osteopathic therapy works more through the Musculo-skeletal system. With Osteopathic therapy restrictions of muscles and connective tissue compromise the blood, nerves, and lymphatic system causing bones and joints to be out of alignment.
The least appreciated area of medicine is physical medicine. While diet, supplements and occasional medications provide vital nutrients and facilitate health, they can be greatly compromised through poor circulation. In Osteopathic, such as with myofascial therapy, the whole goal is to allow vital nutrients to get to the “job site.” Essentially, optimal health can be effectively compromised by poor delivery of nutrients along with the lack of removal of metabolic waste products. This restriction of nutrient delivery and lack of waste product removal leads to an acidic inflammatory state in that area of the body.
AFTER DIET, HOW CAN I START TO GET CONTROL OF THE INFLAMMATION IN MY BODY?
The first thing to do is to find a doctor who works with your diet and seeks to cure the problem, not just treat the symptoms. Then depending on your history, consider further testing to rule out and evaluate the degree of inflammation you are presently dealing with. A basic blood chemistry can look at your levels of sugars, fats, and if any evidence of organ disease. Hormonal testing can evaluate thyroid, sex hormones, adrenals, and Vitamin D. Your digestive system can be evaluated through stool testing and checking for food sensitives. Additionally, toxicity can be evaluated from specialized test for chemical or heavy metal exposure. The bottom line: evaluation and testing needs to be tailored to you and your symptoms.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE MODIFIED MEDITERRANAEAN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET:
1) BOTTLED OR FILTERED WATER 6 TO 8 GLASSES DAILY (48-64 OZ'S). ADVISE DRINKING 1 TO 2 GLASSES OF WATER BEFORE MEALS OR SNACK. MAY ADD LEMON OR LIME TO WATER FOR TASTE.
2) VEGETABLE CENTERED DIET- RAW OR LIGHTLY COOKED.
3) HORMONE-RANGE FREE MEAT, FISH, OR EGGS (the size of the palm of your hand) 1 TO 3 TIMES A DAY.
4) FATS AND OILS 3 TO 4 TBSP DAILY (ie: Avocado, Coconut, Ghee, Butter, Olive, Sunflower, Safflower, etc.) ALONG WITH NUTS AND NUT BUTTERS.
5) WHOLE COOKED GRAINS 1/3 TO 1/2 CUP PER MEALS. LIMITED AND IDEALLY AVOID, BREAD, PASTA, OR TORTILLAS. IF GLUTEN SENSITIVE CONSIDER CORN, BROWN RICE, QUINOA, BUCKWHEAT, AMARANTH, TEFF, SORGUM, and GLUTEN-FREE OATS.
6) WHOLE FRUIT and BERRIES BEST BETWEEN MEALS AS A SNACK. AVOID FRUIT JUICE, DRIED FRUIT (prunes allowed if constipated), SUGAR, and SWEETS.
7) DAIRY (Butter, Yogurt, Kefir, Cheese and Milk) PRODUCTS BEST TO BE ORGANIC AND RAW FOR EASE OF DIGESTION. AVOID ALL PROCESSED FORMS WITH FRUIT OR OTHER ADDITIVES.
8) SEA SALT, HERBS, AND SPICES TO TASTE ARE ENCOURAGED. TABLE SALT IS DISCOURAGED DUE TO LACK OF TRACE MINERALS AND TENDENCY TO RAISE BLOOD PRESSURE.
FOR OPTIMAL WEIGHT LOSS INTERMITTENT FASTING CAN EASILY BE DONE BY NOT EATING DURING THE DAY UNTIL YOU ARE FIRST HUNGRY AND THEN HAVING YOUR LAST MEAL 3 HOURS BEFORE BEDTIME. THIS WILL ALLOW 12 TO 14 HOURS FOR THE BODY TO CLEANSE and REJUVENATE.
FOR OPTIMAL WEIGHT GAIN BE SURE TO HAVE 3 MEALS DAILY ALONG WITH A HEALTHY SNACK, IF DESIRED. ADDITIONALLY, GET TESTED FOR ANY FOOD SENSITIVITIES AND AVOID THOSE FOODS THAT CAN INHIBIT ABSORPTION AND WEIGHT GAIN.