The latest issue of Twin Cities Mix has a really great article about chronic inflammation. Inflammation is associated with all sorts of degenerative diseases such as heart disease and cancer, so eating foods that fight inflammation in general will help your body ward off its associated diseases. Here’s a helpful checklist from the article:
- Eliminate processed foods, including fast food, and consume only fresh, whole foods in their natural state.
- Try to consume quality protein, complex carbohydrates and healthful fats at each meal.
- Animal protein should be organic, sustainably raised and from as clean a source as possible.
- Greatly reduce or eliminate sugar and refined flour intake.
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables rated low to moderate on the glycemic index.
- Strictly avoid high fructose corn syrup.
- Eat full-fat dairy in moderation; fat-free and lowfat dairy products have been overprocessed and are not natural foods.
- Eat avocados and nuts, especially almonds, walnuts, and cashews.
- Use extra virgin olive oil as your primary cooking oil.
- Strictly avoid margarine, vegetable shortening and products made with partially hydrogenated oils.
- Consume omega-3 fatty acids daily. Eat salmon, sardines packed in water or olive oil, black cod, or herring twice weekly and take a fish oil supplement on the days you don’t eat fish. Make sure that your fish oil is free of heavy metals.
- Make ginger and turmeric a regular part of your diet.
- Drink wine sparingly.
- Drink tea instead of coffee.
- Drink six–eight glasses of water per day.
So, looking at this list, it seems that the anti-inflammatory diet has a lot in common with other nutritional advice I’ve read from sources as widely varied as Michael Pollan, Cookus Interruptus, and Weston Price Foundation. We follow quite a few of these guidelines, but not religiously. For example, we don’t eat oily fish very often — high-quality sustainably-sourced fish is EXPENSIVE, yo. But we do take our cod liver oil daily during the winter, and 2-3 times/week in the summer.
Even just loosely following these guidelines for around two years, I have seen some changes in my health. For example: I suffered seasonal allergies for many years. I tried many different medications, and none worked great for me, but without them the sneezing was out of control. I have now gone through two whole summers with few to no allergy symptoms. Nice.
I will spare you details, but my gastrointestinal tract is also working great now, even though I had problems for a few years in my early 20s. Those problems inspired me to start exercising and lose 30 pounds, which I’ve kept off for about 5 years now (not counting about one year for pregnancy).
Finally, we don’t get sick very often. I’m not saying we NEVER get sick, but my kids have never had ear infections or stomach bugs of any kind. I’m not going to get too cocky about it though, because we only recently starting sending them to a school environment. It’s likely only a matter of time, at this point…
I would not call myself a thin person, but I definitely have seen other benefits from my attempts at eating healthy. Now, if I can just find the willpower to lose the final 10 lbs, I’ll be good to go… Resolutions, resolutions.
Here’s the entire article, with more details.
Update, 1/1/2011: So, is this irony? Poetic justice? The universe trying to tell me something? At any rate, less than 5 minutes after I pushed the Publish button on this post, Anneke came down with her first ever true stomach bug. It lasted about 12 hours, so she’s feeling better now. The rest of us feel fine so far, but who knows what today will bring. Funny, huh?