Why the Standard North American Diet is making us sick…
Multiple new studies are now proving with science what most of our grandparents knew already–processed food, white flour, fried food and lack of fresh fruit and vegetables are at least in large part responsible for the epidemic of type two diabetes, metabolic syndrome and possibly the rise in many types of cancers over the last 60 years. These are pro inflammatory foods–the opposite of an anti inflammatory diet!
What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet??
- wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables
- source of Omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, grass fed bison and beef, walnuts, or fish oil supplement
- eat plenty of whole grains such as brown rice and bulgur wheat
- eat lean protein sources such as chicken; cut back on red meat and full-fat dairy foods
- minimize saturated and trans fats
- avoid refined foods and processed foods especially fried foods and pastries–which are pro inflammatory foods
- consume alcohol in moderation (same effect as pro inflammatory foods)
- add a variety of spices, especially ginger, curry, turmeric. Marcason W. What is the anti-inflammatory diet? Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2010 Nov;110(11):1780.
A Few Specific Superfoods
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
a special naturally-occuring compound called Oleocanthal has been discovered in virgin olive oil and possesses similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen (Advil).Lucas L, Russell A, Keast R.Molecular mechanisms of inflammation. Anti-inflammatory benefits of virgin olive oil and the phenolic compound oleocanthal. Current Pharmaceutical Design. 2011;17(8):754-68.
People in Africa have been eating this type of algae for hundreds of years for it’s high nutritional value. Recent animal studies and some human studies have started to look into the effect of spirulina on lowering cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, cancer, viral infections, and inflammatory diseases. Animal studies and preliminary human studies have proven it to have effects on decreasing blood cholesterol, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects. It is a safe and increasingly commonly found neutraceutical. Deng R, Chow T-J. Hypolipidemic, antioxidant, and antiinflammatory activities of microalgae Spirulina.Cardiovascular therapeutics. 2010 Aug;28(4):e33-45.
3. Red Wine:
A compound in red wine called reversitrol is anti-inflammatory and a potent antioxidant. consumed in moderation (1 glass/day), it may decrease the risk of heart disease and other inflammatory diseases
Cooked, they release large amounts of Lycopene (a natural pigment called a carotenoid) has been reported to have various health benefits such as cardiovascular and cancer preventive properties and may even reverse early prostate cancer. One of the possible mechanisms for its protective activities is by down-regulation of the inflammatory response. Palozza P, Parrone N, Catalano A, Simone R.Tomato lycopene and inflammatory cascade: basic interactions and clinical implications.Current Medicinal Chemistry. 2010;17(23):2547-63.
Several spices have been shown to exhibit activity against obesity through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Among them, curcumin, a yellow pigment derived from the spice turmeric (an essential component of curry powder), has been researched extensively as a treatment for obesity and obesity-related metabolic diseases. Curcumin directly interacts with fat cells, muscle cells and other cells in the body and suppresses the pro inflammatory cascade and can reverse insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and other symptoms linked to obesity. Other similar compounds are found in red chili, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and ginger. The curcumin in turmeric is best absorbed in the body when combined with black pepper, for example in cooking with these two spices together. Aggarwal BB.Targeting inflammation-induced obesity and metabolic diseases by curcumin and other nutraceuticals. Annu Rev Nutr. 2010 Aug 21;30:173-99.
6. Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
Found to be beneficial in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease by reducing inflammation on multiple levels in the body. Rosenbaum CC, O’Mathuna DP, Chavez M, Shields K.Antioxidants and antiinflammatory dietary supplements for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine. 2010 Mar-Apr;16(2):32-40.
These are just a few of hundreds of super foods that are easy to add to your diet and available nearly everywhere at a grocery or health food store in your area. Avoiding pro inflammatory foods and drink as well as eating the anti inflammatory diet will greatly improve your health!
The traditional (but not necessarily modern) diets from mediterranian and Japanese cultures are rich in anti-inflammatory foods, (they have an anti inflammatory diet already!) as well as spices and polyphenols (super antioxidants that come from plants) and these cultures have a lower rate of heart disease and type two diabetes traditionally.
This diet can be further customized to a variety of specific medical conditions to gain the most benefit, for example people suffering from Irritable bowel disease (IBS), different types of arthritis and cancers.