If you suffer from arthritis or any other condition that causes inflammation, adopting a healthier diet may help reduce your pain. Substituting inflammatory foods for those with anti-inflammatory nutrients can lessen the number of flare-ups that you have. Here is a list of what foods to avoid and some great substitutes to add into your diet.
Eat Avocados! July 31st is National Avocado Day, so it’s fitting that we start with avocados and their anti-inflammatory benefits! Avocados are rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, phytoserols, alpha-linolec acid and cartenoids. These nutrients help to reduce inflammation, blood sugar and regulate cholesterol levels. Avocados are a great replacement for unhealthy fats, so use mashed avocado whenever you’d typically spread margarine or mayonnaise.
Avoid Coffee Creamers, Margarine & Artificial Trans Fat. Most margarines and coffee creamers contain artificial trans-fat (look on the label for “partially hydrogenated oils”). Artificial trans-fats are one of the unhealthiest foods you can eat. They are created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats in order to give them the stability of a more solid fat. This process helps to extend shelf life. Studies show that artificial trans-fats cause inflammation and increase disease risk. Other foods that have artificial trans fats include: fried fast foods, frozen pizza, desserts (especially those with frosting), biscuits, and cream filled candies. There is no “safe amount” of artificial trans-fat to eat, so do your best to steer clear.
Cook with Olive Oil: Olive oil is a great oil to cook with! It is rich in an omega-9 fatty acid called oleic acid, which helps to minimize inflammation. Try olive oil when you are cooking, and even add it on top of salads as a dressing. Store bought salad dressings are full of inflammatory sugars and fats. So, swap them out with olive oil, since it’s also good for your heart and brain, too!
Avoid Vegetable oil. Vegetable oil has a high concentration of the inflammatory fat, omega-6, and is low in the anti-inflammatory fat, omega-3. Your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio should be 1:1, so the imbalance causes inflammation.
Eat Fish. Fish is a healthier alternative to red meat that not only gives you the protein you need, but also help to reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation and are in fish like salmon, snapper, tuna, cod, halibut and bass.
Avoid Red Meat. Not that you should cut red meat out of your diet completely, but the hormones and preservatives found in meat products can cause problems. Another problem with red meat is that it is higher in cholesterol and salt, which can trigger inflammation.
Eat Fruit & Veggies. Because they are packed with antioxidants, fresh fruits and vegetables are a must in any anti-inflammatory diet. The antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids and Vitamins A, C and E help to reduce inflammation. A healthy tip: eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies to get a variety of nutrients: different colors=different nutrients.
Avoid Snack Foods. Processed and packaged foods like chips, pretzels and candy contain tons of saturated fats. These fats trigger fat tissue which releases pro-inflammation agents.
Avoid White Sugar. We know it’s difficult to resist desserts, pastries, sodas and even fruit juices that are loaded with sugar, but studies show that sugars trigger the release of inflammatory cytokines. Sugar goes by many names on ingredient labels, so look out for any word ending in -ose (fructose, sucrose, etc.).
Try Cinnamon Instead. Cinnamon is a sweet spice that actually helps to reduce inflammation. Researchers say that you only need a quarter of a teaspoon a day to get the benefits. So, try swapping out your cream and sugar in your coffee with a bit of cinnamon. If you make this switch you could also be save 70+ calories per cup.
It should be said that you don’t have to completely eliminate all of these bad foods from your diet, but moderation is key. As you can see an anti-inflammatory diet contains tons of healthy foods, so even if it doesn’t help with your condition directly, it can help lower your chances of having other health problems. Check out our Pinterest page for some great anti-inflammatory recipes that will not only help your joints, but your heart and your gut too!