Since switching to a vegetarian diet high in raw foods I have become increasingly aware of the health benefits. The health benefits are what first lead to the change in my diet, but the more I read about it the more positive things I discover. One of which is the positive effects of an anti-inflammatory diet. Naturally somebody with a high intake of raw foods will likely be eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Why is an anti-inflammatory diet important you might ask? Well, I will tell you.
Inflammation in the body has been known to lead to chronic disease, cardiovascular disease, cancers and just poor health in general (including obesity) in addition to the commonly known links such as arthritis and appendicitis. What you eat has a direct effect on your overall health and well-being.
Eating a mostly plant based diet will give you plenty of anti-oxidants and help fight against inflammation, though you can combat inflammation in the body while still consuming meat I will focus on what plant based foods you can include into your diet that are anti-inflammatory.
First thing you can do is consumer more foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s fight against inflammation and omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation. But a good balance is key, too much omega-3’s could be bad.
Foods high in omega-3 (consume more of these)
- Ground flax seed
- Flax seed oil
- Almond butter
- Almonds, walnuts, cashews and hazelnuts
- Some forms as soy (cooked soybeans, raw tofu)
There are also lots of other foods that are anti-inflammatory
- Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale
Fruits. These are also high in antioxidants and help prevent premature aging.
- And other berries
- Buckwheat (not actually a wheat)
- Whole Grains
- Dark Chocolate (consumer in moderation though)
- Fish (not plant based, but I do include this into my diet on rare occasion)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Green tea
In contrast to anti-inflammatory foods are pro-inflammatory foods. These promote inflammation in the body and are contributors to poor health and chronic disease. Here is a list of foods to avoid.
Pro-inflammatory foods (avoid these)
- All sugars
- FAST FOOD
- Processed white flours
- Enriched wheat flour
- Trans Fats
- Hydrogenated oils
- White Rice
- Corn syrup
- Alcohol (limiting your intake wouldn’t be a bad idea)
Since sugars are one of those highly desirable ingredients, especially for those with a sweet tooth, try using one ore more of the following as a substitute, these are less refined and a more desirable alternative to processed sugars.
- Maple syrup
- Dated sugar (or date paste)
- Cane juice
There are other alternatives as well, but the above are the ones most commonly known.
As a rock climber (who is also slowly becoming a runner too) maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet is important. Not only does it keep me in good health, but also helps protect me from injuries and aids in prevention of things such as arthritis that would keep me from doing what I love. Additionally, it helps prevent stiff joints and promotes more fluid movement as well.
I have also noticed that taking anti-inflammatory herbs helps aid in recovery after my workouts. There are several anti-inflammatory herbs that can be used to reduce and prevent inflammation. The list below can all be found in a supplement I take.
- Ginger root
- Camu Camu (also a good source of Vitamin C)
Others, not found in the supplement I take
- Chili peppers
Including these spices in your foods wouldn’t be a bad idea. Just make sure they are going to taste good on whatever you are preparing.
While an anti-inflammatory diet is not necessarily going to cure you of all disease, it will certainly promote good health, aid in the prevention of injuries (a very positive benefit for athletes) help prevent disease and possibly even cure them. It will also help you maintain a healthy body weight as well. So, in order to promote better overall health, eat less processed foods, avoid eating out, and eat lots of fruits and veggies (anti-inflammatory foods). There is no doubt you will have better overall health if you do.