The anti-inflammatory diet got Hollywood hooked promising big benefits such as a clearer mind, fewer cravings, glowing skin and slimmer waist1.
According to its advocates, inflammation underlies many of the world’s most common diseases, including the process of aging. Inflammation is also associated with such obvious inflammatory conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, but there’s data evidencing that inflammation might be a risk factor for developing heart disease and cancer2.
So how does it works? The anti-inflammatory diet seeks to reduce inflammation by eating healthier foods (i.e., foods that help combat inflammation) and conversely reduce foods that cause inflammation.
Consuming too much fat (especially in the form of saturated fat, trans fat and Omega-6 fats), too much sugar (also in the form of refined carbs), too many calories, and carrying too much extra body weight, it’s likely to cause inflammation and oxidative stress on your body.
Inflammatory foods set off a series of reactions: The “bad fat” triggers the liver to release chemicals to fight the toxins, which causes inflammation. In the meantime, the glucose in food can’t be transported to your cells while the body is inflamed, which means that your body isn’t registering the intake3. With what result? That you’re feeling hungry (even if you’re not) and more prone to cravings4.
In other words inflammation means a less efficient metabolism, which in turn will make you eat more and ultimately gaining weight.
Another important feature of the anti-inflammatory eating regimen is the focus on body weight. Too much body weight is one of the clearest link between inflammation and disease. Fat is metabolically active tissue, that releases all kinds of inflammatory molecules into our bloodstream, which travels to target organs. All the cells of our body are affected as a consequence.
Eating healthy and be fit. Nothing new under the sun. What’s more interesting about the anti-inflammatory diet is what you should not eat and what you should eat.
What makes the cut? Fish and olive oil as sources of unsaturated fats, seaweeds, garlic, green tea, nuts and plenty of fresh produce (deeply colored veggies and fruits). Also spices and herbs such as ginger and turmeric should be included. These are all foods rich in phytonutrients that may help fighting inflammation. Foods that help calm the immune system5.
At the same time, you're meant to limit or cut out foods thought to cause inflammation, such as trans fats and saturated fats, processed foods and refined carbohydrates such as white bread and sugars6.
All these are thought to produce free radicals or cause blood sugar levels to spike, leading to inflammation7.
If you want to know more about the anti-inflammatory diet here’s a couple of books you might want to check out:
1 Sather, Jennifer. Anti Inflammatory Diet: The Best Anti Inflammatory Foods and Anti Inflammatory Diet to Keep You Healthy. Seattle. 2013
2 Rowe, Barbara; Davis, Lisa. Anti-Inflammatory Foods For Health. Minneapolis. 2008
3 Watts, Merritt. “The New Science of Dieting.” Details. May 2013: 72. Print.
4Sears Barry. The Anti-Inflammation Zone: Reversing the Silent Epidemic That's Destroying Our Health. New York. 2005
5 Weil, Andrew. “Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Pyramid”. drweil.com. Weil Lifestyle LLC. Web. 15 May 2013.
6 Perricone, Nicholas. The Perricone Weight-Loss Diet Personal Daily Journal: A Diet Journal to Keep You Focused on Your Weight-Loss Goals. New York: Ballantine. 2005.
7 Bee, Peta. “The simple diet that can fight arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.” Mail Online. 21 Sep. 2009: 1. Web. 15 May 2013.