Anti-inflammatory is becoming a huge buzz word these days as more and more data is becoming available that inflammation is one of the driving forces behind weight loss resistance, chronic illness, heart disease, obesity, cancer, and autoimmune diseases-just to name a few. This week we've dedicated our What's That?! Wednesday post to a topic that has been my personal focus of study for the last few years...the Anti-Inflammatory Diet...
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is our body's protective and healing response to injury or invasion. The type of inflammation that we all know and can relate to includes pain, swelling, redness, heat, and fever. But when inflammation persists and/or the immune system becomes 'overactive,' it can damage the body and cause illness not only acutely, but also slowly and silently over time. The main causes of inflammation in our bodies are: disease (pathogens, bacteria, virus, fungus, etc), excess adipose/fat tissue, genetics, smoking, stress, environmental toxins, and FOOD! The foods that have been shown to increase inflammatory responses include: refined carbohydrates, sugars, most processed and pre-packaged foods, trans fats, non-organic produce, grain fed animal protein, and often gluten, dairy, and soy.
What Are the Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
What Do You Eat on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
An anti-inflammatory eating plan places an emphasis on eating organic vegetables, healthy fat, and protein first and then incorporates some healthy carbohydrates in appropriate amounts occasionally. Specifically:
Is the Paleo Diet an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
Yes. The paleo diet is being hailed as an amazing anti-inflammatory diet, specifically suggested for weight loss and those suffering from autoimmune conditions and some chronic illnesses. While Jennifer and I both agree with many of the elements of this diet, we do not advocate going full paleo for a long period of time. Based on our research and experience with clients, we see that low-carb diets can be difficult for people to stick to and often increase cravings for sweets and carbs, especially at night. We like people to feel successful and not feel like they are being deprived. Additionally, one of the key hormones that drives energy and weight loss is cortisol and eating a low carb diet can actually increase cortisol production which keep your body in fight or flight mode. This basically instructs your body to store fat and not burn it. While the science behind the paleo diet says that your body prefers to use fat as fuel and that carbohydrates are not necessary, we've found that most people need a little bit of healthy carbohydrates to find the right balance of energy and satiety. In addition, the brain and nervous system rely entirely on carbohydrates to function, and if they have to convert them from protein or fat in the body since there is no available food source, this can lead to feelings of 'fogginess' and mental unclarity. A small amount of healthy, clean carbs helps you to stay mentally sharp.
Why Choose an Anti-Inflammatory Diet - A Personal Story:
As someone who has personally suffered from chronic, systemic inflammation due to Lyme disease for the last decade of my life, I cannot emphasize enough how much implementing an anti-inflammatory eating plan has improved my life. I was a yo-yo dieter for years living on "diet foods" and always thinking that the calorie counting and "eat less, exercise more" approach was the only way to look at things. As I got older and my disease progressed, I found that this strategy often left me hungry, with increased cravings for bad foods, decreased energy, increased mood swings, and increased pain and other adverse symptoms. I also found that it was tougher and tougher to maintain a healthy weight. Almost four years ago I went through a detox diet and then implemented an anti-inflammatory eating plan and within a couple of months my lifelong IBS issues went away, the extra pounds dropped off, my muscle tone and energy improved, my hormones and mood came into better balance, and I found some pain relief from my debilitating Lyme symptoms. I encourage anyone who is battling a chronic illness, especially an autoimmune condition, chronic infection, chronic allergies, or diabetes to work with a specialist to implement an anti-inflammatory eating plan.
As I mentioned, I've spent much of the last several years studying and learning anti-inflammatory diet protocols and we've taken the best parts of each of those protocols and made them available to you in our Anti-Inflammatory Diet Menu. This eating plan incorporates elements of the paleo diet, the zone diet, anti-candida and digestive repair protocols, the raw diet, and general anti-inflammatory protocols. It is great for anyone who is sick of yo-yo dieting, wants to lose weight and keep it off, or is living with or trying to recover from a chronic illness or autoimmune disease. Click here to see the details of this eating plan and to get started.
In Good Health!
~Billie & Jennifer
Do you know anyone that follows a raw food diet? The raw food movement is becoming quite popular these days...so we thought it important to review the basics of what this diet is about in this week's edition of What's That Wednesday?!
Raw Food Diet Basic Theories:
People that successfully convert to a raw food diet usually experience weight loss, reduction in inflammation, improvement and regularity in digestion, and increased energy. So is this the right diet for you? We strongly believe that each person's biochemistry is unique and that no one diet can work for everyone. We also strongly advocate following a diet that makes sense for your lifestyle and body and encourage our clients to make small changes one at a time. For most people, converting to a diet like a raw food diet all at once could be really overwhelming, may be unnecessary for your body, and will likely be very difficult to stick to in the long term because it could feel very restrictive. For these reasons, this is not a diet that we recommend for everyone.
We do however, feel like there are some great takeaways from the raw food theory that are easy to implement and that we would recommend for anyone wanting to feel better, lose weight, and improve digestion.
Our Top 3 Raw Food Diet Recommendations:
1. Increase consumption of raw foods, especially leafy greens. Try adding a green smoothie or juice to your morning routine. Or add a side salad to your cooked lunch or dinner. Have some raw food at every meal!
2. Choose raw nuts and seeds over roasted nuts and seeds.
3. Use cooking methods like steaming, boiling, and simmering more often. If you are sauteing or roasting, choose an oil that is stable at high temperatures like coconut oil. You can check out our blog, Best Oil Choices When Cooking, for further recommendations on this.
Check out one of our favorite raw food dishes -Kale Refresh Salad with Tahini Dressing and our newest raw food treat, Raw Coconut Snack Balls.
As always, if you have questions, please post or reach out to us directly!
~Billie & Jennifer
Billie Shellist, FDN-P
I practice functional nutrition, an approach that allows me to look at your entire health history and help you find the "root causes" of your chronic health complaints.
This cuts out the trial and error process and helps you get real symptom relief and resolution!
Food is medicine and knowledge is power -I hope you enjoy my anti-inflammatory recipes which are gluten, dairy, and soy free as well as very low grain and sugar.
If you'd like to heal from the root cause(s) of your chronic symptoms, try starting with a complimentary 15-minute consultation. Click here to request your free session.