If you follow me on Instagram you might know that I am working through the Well + Good's list of 2017 Wellness Trends that I can afford. The first trend (and one that is certainly in my price range) is eating inflammation-fighting foods. One thing that many of us do already is substitute inflammation fighting ingredients for ones that we know to cause inflammation. For example, nut-based cheeses, zoodles, paleo pancakes all replace dairy, sugar or wheat which are known to cause inflammation. In additional to staying away from foods that cause inflammation, we can increase our consumption of foods that help decrease inflammation in our bodies. While we are bound to see "new" anti inflammatory research and products on the market, there are plenty of foods we already know about that can help to fight inflammation especially if they are enjoyed after a challenging work out.
I have learned that there are foods that cause inflammation and foods that fight against it. Food either makes you healthier or unhealthier but there is no such thing as a neutral food as everything we put in to our bodies or on our plats add to or take away from our overall health. That is not to say that we should always only eat food that makes us healthier because indulging is important too but as a whole, our goal should be to eat a diet that overall contributes to our health.
Inflammation is one of many aspects of our health that can be greatly affected by food. I have seen such a change in my overall feeling of health since I started paying attention to the ingredients in the food that I choose to eat. Consequentially, I have added more inflammation fighting foods to my diet and I limit the foods I know to cause inflammation in my body.
About two years ago I was experiencing chronic pain with no real identifiable origin; my hips always hurt and my legs often ached. I was going to Physical Therapy and nothing was helping. I thought it was a combination of my boot camp style work outs with a lot of running, jumping and pavement pounding and bad genetics and I thought I would be in pain forever.
Changing my work outs from boot camps to lower impact workouts including spinning, barre and Pilates definitely helped my pain but that wasn't the whole picture. At the same time, I also started eating clean, unprocessed and nutrient rich foods more often. My chronic aches and pain almost disappeared after a few months. Now I know when I eat too much sugar or drink too much alcohol that my body will ache due to inflammation from these foods. I certainly still take an anti-inflammatory medication here and there for pain especially if I am trying to sleep or work but this change caused me to truly see the benefit of natural healing with food.
Inflammation is a natural and necessary component of healing and protection for the body but too much inflammation can be painful and harmful to your overall health. Below is a list of ingredients you can include in your post work out snack or meal to fight inflammation. Of course, the foods you choose is dependent on each individual and the way you respond to certain foods. I recommend slowly adding some of these ingredients in to your diet especially post work out and see how your body feels.
Foods to Fight Inflammation
- almonds or almond butter
- bell pepper
- brussels sprouts
- cayenne pepper
- dark leafy greens like kale, mustard greens, spinach
- sweet potato
- olive oil
Some recipe ideas:
- Greek Salad
- Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Sweet Potato Coconut Cashew Rice Bowl from Babble
- Turmeric Juices from Whole Foods or Pressed Juicery
- Any salad or bowl that includes a few of the above ingredients
- Roasted veggies with fish
- Fish tacos with guacamole
Take a look through your favorite recipes- I am sure you already have many of these ingredients in your meals or you might be able to easily add some to up the benefits of your already healthy meals.
I am not about categorizing "good" and "bad" foods but just as important as the foods that reduce inflammation is to know what foods can increase inflammation.
Again, everyone is different but for most of us, these foods in high quantities can cause inflammation and lead to a higher likelihood of aches, pains and slower recovery times.
These inflammatory causing foods include wheat, dairy sugar, alcohol and fried foods. Of course, all of these foods can contribute to inflammation but some people are more sensitive to certain food groups. It would be difficult to cut out all of these food groups (although not impossible) so I recommend finding out which cause inflammation for you specifically and then reducing that food group as best as you can. There is no need for a complete diet overhaul here- just a few additions and a few subtractions to make a big difference in how you feel.
If you want to follow along as I move through the Wellness trends of 2017 (and maybe find some of my own) follow me on Instagram.