Anti-inflammatory nutrition and lifestyle
By: Cynthia Collins, PHD, RD, LDN
What is inflammation?
Your immune system becomes activated when your body recognizes anything that is foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. This often triggers a process called inflammation. Intermittent bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders can protect your health as part of your immune system, but if this inflammation does not stop when it should, chronic infl ammation occurs.
Why is inflammation bad for us?
Chronic inflammation, the inflammatory response that continues over time, can cause damage to and impair the increased production of healthy cells. Many diseases have an underlying presence of infl ammation.
What can we do about inflammation?
Since some foods can cause inflammation, anti-inflammatory foods can provide protection against chronic inflammation, promoting immune health.
A great start is to limit or avoid foods that can cause inflammation, such as:
- Refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pastries
- Deep-fried foods
- Red meat
- Processed meat like hot dogs, sausage
- Margarine, shortening, and lard
- Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
Pay attention to food labels
- Avoid foods that contain nitrites and nitrates
- Limit or avoid sugary beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup like colas and juice drinks
- Exercise: 30 minutes a day helps to reduce your risk of depression and anxiety. It also helps with sleep quality
- Get enough sleep: Healthy sleep habits include 7–9 hours of sleep for adults on a consistent basis. Chronic insuffi cient sleep can contribute to infl ammation and suppress the immune system.
- Hydrate: 64 oz of water per day is a good start
- Dark chocolate: At least 70% cacao
- Meat and poultry: Omega-3 enriched eggs, skinless poultry, lean meat and grass-fed beef
- Healthy fats: Extra virgin olive oil, avocado
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews
- Herbal teas: Oolong, white, rooibos, chamomile, green tea
- Seeds: Chia, hemp, flax, pumpkin, sunflower
- Probiotics: Yogurt, pickles, fermented sauerkraut and kombucha, kefir, miso
- Spices and herbs: Turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, basil, ginger
- Fiber: Aim for at least 25 grams per day
- Prebiotics: Onions, artichokes, leeks, garlic, asparagus
- Fish and seafood: Salmon, black cod, sardines, low mercury tuna
- Beans and legumes: Red beans, black beans, lentils, garbanzo beans
- Mushrooms: Shitake, enoki, maitake, reishi
- Fruit: Fresh and frozen (choose a variety of colors for nutrient balance)
- Vegetables: Raw and cooked, a variety of colors, Asian cruciferous vegetables, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, galion (Chinese broccoli)
- Whole grains and pasta: Quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal
This list is not individualized, some foods may not be endorsed by a diet prescribed by your physician. Please discuss with a licensed dietitian.
About Cynthia S. Collins, PhD, RD, LD/N
At GenesisCare, Dr. Collins engages in both individual and group clinical intervention with cancer patients in the fields of Health Psychology and Clinical Nutrition. Support groups under her facilitation include: Breast Cancer Support Group; Prostate Cancer Support Group; Advanced Cancer Support Group; Anti-Cancer Lifestyle Workshop; Healthy Brain Workshop; and Keep It Healthy - Fit & Flourish.