The Key to Reducing Inflammation
By L. Markham McHenry, D.O.
In my previous post, “The Surprising Reason YOU Have Inflammation,” I revealed how the unhealthy foods you eat – even occasionally – can lead to chronic inflammation and are at the root cause of so many health conditions and diseases including obesity, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke, and more.
But there’s good news.
With some simple changes to your lifestyle you can reduce or even eliminate chronic inflammation and lead a happy, healthy, productive life. And it all has to do with one thing you love the most: food. Your diet is the most important and easiest way to prevent chronic inflammation.
I’m sure you’ll agree it’s much better to take a preventative approach than a reactive one by masking your health problems with medication and approaches that don’t work.
And it gets even better. The food choices you make can also “turn on” or “turn off” your genes that could lead to serious diseases. So instead of falling victim to what your genes may dictate, you can take control and empower yourself with a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
Are you ready to get started?
Here are some basic guidelines.
- Fruits and vegetables. Load up on fruits and vegetables by filling half your plate with a colorful selection at every meal, including snacks. Eat veggies raw and roast, grill, or sauté for more variety, taste, and texture.
- Whole grains. Nix white bread, rice, and flour, and choose whole grains instead. The label should use “whole” as the first ingredient for it to truly be whole grain. Super-grains like quinoa, barley, millet, and farro are great choices.
- Nuts, beans, & legumes. Studies show that just 4 servings of beans a week can lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Try lentil chili, add chickpeas to a salad, or snack on edamame or an apple with a tablespoon of almond butter as a snack.
- Protein. Skinless chicken, plain yogurt, natural cheese, omega-3 enriched eggs, tofu, and tempeh are all good sources of protein. Lean red meat is okay, but limit it to just 2 times a month.
- Fish and seafood. Wild caught salmon, sardines, and herring are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and a good source of protein.
- Milk and dairy. It’s a myth that you need 3 glass of milk a day for calcium, and studies show consuming too much dairy is linked to cancer and heart disease. When you do drink milk, choose whole instead of low-fat because the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid found in whole milk, is important for insulin resistance. Or try almond, coconut, or rice milk instead.
- Herbs and spices. Healthy doesn’t mean boring so try new recipes and add herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, turmeric, basil, and dill to your dishes.
- Cut down on salt and sugar. Reduce your sodium intake and limit it to no more than 2,000 milligrams a day and limit sugar, especially sneaky ones found in yogurt, sugary drinks, soda, juice, and packaged foods.
- Healthy fats. You body needs healthy fats, and extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, avocado, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds are all great options.
- Drink up. Water is crucial for all your body’s functions and can help to detox your system. Men need 3 liters and women 2.2 liters every day; drink more when you exercise.
- Indulge a bit. It’s okay to have a glass of wine with dinner or enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate a few times a week, especially since both have anti-oxidants.
- Exercise. Include a moderate or vigorous cardio workout most days of the week or at least 2 and ½ hours each week and a strength workout at least 2 days a week. Between CrossFit, martial arts, and Zumba, there are so many great ways to find something you actually like to do.
With some simple changes, you can lower your risk for certain health conditions and diseases and have a better quality of life.