December 10, 2008

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

When I talk about an anti-inflammatory diet, I am not talking about the typical help-me-lose-weight kind of dieting. I am just talking about the foods we may consume that might promote inflammation (and in the cases of people with autoimmune disorders, inflammation means pain).

Although a diet free of items like wheat, dairy, etc. may be helpful, sometimes such a drastic change may not be necessary as the inflammation may only be caused from allergies to specific ingredients and you may not necessarily be allergic. If you have autoimmune issues, you can get allergy tests done or try a diet that eliminates those foods from the start and slowly brings some back in to see if they are part of the problem.

Here is what I have found personally (I will discuss in another post later some tidbits I have found about supplements):

Lots of doctors try to just dope you up instead of trying to help you. Some major pain-causers are tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and bell peppers. For most people with an autoimmune diease, you will want to steer clear of those. Staying away from tomatoes can be hard because it is in so many things (pizza, spaghetti, ketchup, etc.), but it is worth it. Also citrus can cause lots of pain. Alfalfa sprouts should also be avoided, especially in people with lupus.

One food that is helpful is pineapple because of its anti-inflammatory properties (mainly from the bromelain found in it).

Here is one resource that may be helpful in information and recipes:

The Anti-Inflammation Diet & Recipe Book

There is a great review for the book that has a condensed version of the information included in it. Here are the basics of the anti-inflammatory diet:

An anti-inflammatory diet should emphasize pineapple, most fruits (though limiting citrus), vegetables, garlic, ginger, turmeric, flaxseed oil, nuts (not peanuts), seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower), flaxseed oil, olive oil, and filtered water. Additional good food choices include: flaxseeds, avocados, fish (wild salmon, cod, haddock, halibut, mackerel, sardines, tuna, trout), whole grains (amaranth, spelt, barley, buckwheat, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, basmati, brown rice, rye), legumes, beans (black, pinto, navy, mung), split peas, curry, and tofu (or better choice fermented tempeh or miso.)

Inflammation-promoters include wheat products, dairy products, corn, peanuts and peanut butter, sugar, fried foods, foods containing hydrogenated oils, processed foods, alcohol, juice, coffee, caffeinated teas and sodas, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, pork, nonorganic eggs, shellfish, and citrus fruits (except lemon). Avoid shellfish such as shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, and mussels.

Staying away from all those fun things is hard, but you can find some ways to kinda work around it. Here are some of the things I have done (I have not yet gone to the extremes of avoiding wheat and dairy, but may end up doing so eventually):

If you like soda a lot but want to cut out caffeine, there are sodas like Hansen's that are caffeine free and don't have high fructose corn syrup. Sure, they still have sugar, but it is better than the high fructose stuff.

Instead of using tomato sauces I make white sauces for pasta and is very easy. A basic white sauce has approximately equal parts milk or cream and butter or oil and then add in some parmesan cheese or flour to thicken it. You can also give it good flavor if you cook some garlic while the butter is melting. (Obviously I haven't cut out wheat or dairy yet...)

Instead of having potatoes with meals, I have started substituting rice. I buy the brown Jasmine rice from Trader Joe's and love it. They also have brown basmati rice, but I haven't tried that just yet.

Staying away from things like salsa is hard for me, but you can make peach or mango salsa without tomatoes if you are wanting some...just chop up peaches or mangoes, add some chopped cilantro, garlic powder, and cayenne to make it spicy.

If you have an autoimmune disease, you can Google things like "anti-inflammatory diet", "arthritis foods to avoid", "arthritis diet", etc. to find out about specific foods to eat or avoid. If you have been diagnosed with a certain autoimmune disease, you may want to check into certain dieting needs for that disease, as some things may be harmful for you that wouldn't be harmful to someone with another disease. Sadly, it is kind of a testing process and can make for some very awful days if you eat something wrong. You may also want to get exercise, but depending on your specific disease needs, too much exercise can also cause lots of pain.

Another website I encountered with Anti-Inflammatory Diet tips:


Laura (NourishandBloom) said...

Wonderful Post on anti-inflammatory eating and ways to nourish your body into wellness. I have multiple autoimmune diseases and feel the effects of "junk" and other inflammatory foods when I let them leak into my daily diet. thank you for sharing this info with us ... I look forward to reading more of your blog. : )

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