The American Cancer Society states that aside from tobacco use, the most important risk factors that can be changed for cancer prevention are: body weight, diet and physical activity. For disease prevention, an anti-inflammatory diet is second to none! A nourishing, anti-inflammatory diet focuses on whole foods that are colorful, rich in nutrients, and full of fiber and healthy fats.
Nature’s bounty gives us so many vegetables and fruits that are colorful - that’s our clue that a food is full of nutrients. The deeper and richer the color, the more vitamins and minerals are present. It doesn't matter which vitamins or minerals are in a particular food because they are all important for health. Whole foods are essential when creating an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
Processed foods don't provide an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. They can cause inflammation in the body. They are usually made with Omega 6 oils like corn, soybean or canola that have been heated at high temperatures and have therefore been damaged. These oils create free radicals in the body, which, along with the high sugar content of most processed foods, creates inflammation. Research has shown that chronic inflammation paves the way for most chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Sugar = Inflammation
Sugar is the most inflammatory substance out there. Once in the bloodstream, sugar causes the pancreas to release the hormone insulin to escort the sugar into the cells, where it can be used for energy. When we routinely eat foods that are high in sugar, we routinely have high insulin levels. High insulin levels promote belly fat which produces inflammation at the cellular level. One of the richest sources of sugar in the American diet besides processed foods are sweetened beverages. Soda, fruit drinks, juices, iced teas and coffee drinks with high sugar content can all contribute to inflammation and fat in the body.
Whole Foods Are Anti-inflammatory
Certain vegetables and fruits are known to be disease and cancer protective. All forms of cooked mushrooms, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale and arugula, dark leafy greens like collard greens, kale, spinach and bok choy, avocado, asparagus, beets, onion, garlic, nuts and seeds like walnut, almonds and pumpkin seeds, berries, apples, melon and stone fruits like plums and prunes - these are whole foods that work for us and not against us.
In other words, when we eat the foods that will help to maintain a stable weight, when we eat the foods that we know are anti-inflammatory and not pro-inflammatory, and when we get our body and blood moving to avoid a build up of toxins in the body, we are taking control of our health.
Mushrooms are packed with nutrients such as VItamin D, B vitamins and selenium, are a great source of fiber and can boost the immune system. Cook and eat all different types of mushrooms - sautee them with a little olive oil, chopped garlic and parsley for a great appetizer or side dish! Cooking with garlic, ginger, rosemary and thyme as well as cinnamon, basil and parsley makes sense as these herbs and spices are all cancer inhibitors.
Grass fed beef has much more Omega 3 fatty acid content than conventionally raised beef and so gives us a more anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Unfortunately, conventionally raised cows are fattened up with grains like soy and corn which as I mentioned are omega 6 fats that are pro-inflammatory. Look for pasture raised or 100% grass fed meats when planning an anti-inflammatory meal.
NIHA’s Healthy Essentials Coaching Program gives people a road map for disease prevention and healthy aging using nutrition and lifestyle changes to help create a sense of well being. It focuses on creating an anti-inflammatory lifestyle as the cornerstone of optimal health.