Got an Inflammed and Frustrated Gut? Here’s What To Do
By now we’ve all heard about the importance of eating a diet that is anti-inflammatory. If that sounds like just another diet trend, rest assured it’s not! It’s actually a very simple and classic way of eating that encourages you to consume foods that keep inflammation and stress to a minimum in your body.
Your inflammatory response is a defense mechanism used by the body to heal and is very beneficial when used for the intended purpose but when this happens at high levels on a daily basis, this is where body imbalances can come in.
The good news is that your food choices are a very effective tool to support your inflammatory responses. Here are four ways you can start building an anti-inflammatory diet today and improve your health in both the short and long-term!
1. Eat Seasonally and Locally
Eating food that is in season and grown locally is one of the best ways to support your body through this process. Changes to our hormones, microbiome and immune system are seasonal as well, and our bodies are designed to eat in harmony with what’s happening in nature.
Think about the flavor difference between a strawberry, tomato or peach picked at peak ripeness versus one grown in the offseason. We are meant to eat fruits and vegetables when they have the highest amount of vitamins and minerals, and most importantly, taste the best!
Many people don’t know that even meat and dairy have seasons. Today we are accustomed to having year-round access to every type of meat, but it hasn’t always been that way. Take pork for example. Historically pigs were slaughtered in the late fall, after they had eaten their fill of acorns and apples from the ground. The meat was hung out over the winter to cure and then a delicious ham was ready for Easter!
Dairy production is seasonal in the same way, as cows naturally have their baby calves in the spring when the grazing is best. With modern farming techniques, many of us are not eating our meat and dairy seasonally, but that’s okay! Focus on fruits and vegetables for the best bang for your health buck, and check out a seasonal produce guide to learn more. An for meats, shop from a trusted source - grocery or stand along meat market - and ask about their farming practices.
In a perfect world, we would all eat in line with the seasons. But sometimes you need green beans, or blueberries or something else specific for a recipe. That's when it's best to turn to organic frozen fruits and vegetables, which are picked at peak ripeness for flavor and nutrition. They often taste just as good and are even a little less expensive and more convenient.
Eating locally is the second part of keeping your food as fresh and nutrient dense as possible to create an anti-inflammatory diet. Essential vitamins and minerals can be lost during transport and while waiting on store shelves. Buying fruits and vegetables from local farmers is the best way to ensure that you are eating food that was picked recently.
2. Do Your Best to Avoid Chemicals
Unfortunately, most conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are sprayed with chemicals to help them grow bigger and faster. These chemicals can have a huge impact on our bodies’ natural detoxification abilities, which we need to help keep our inflammatory responses down.
Eat organic whenever possible. Ever heard of the “Dirty Dozen” of fruits and veggies? These are the ones known to have the most pesticide residue. The Dirty Dozen changes from time to time depending on pesticide residue levels, so look it up every month or so to determine which foods to try and buy organic.
It’s also helpful to know which fruits and vegetables you don’t have to worry about as much! The “Clean 15” is another helpful list to help you keep track of the produce grown using the least amount of chemicals. It can be difficult and expensive to buy all organic fruits and vegetables, so use these resources to help pick and choose what works for your family and your budget.
Don’t let fear of chemicals keep you from eating fruits and vegetables though! Buy organic when you can, rinse your produce well when you can't with a mixture of one cup of white vinegar and four cups of water, and consider frozen organic vegetables as an alternative.
3. Eat Foods You Can Easily Digest
Although there are some common culprits, body im balances can be caused by different foods for different people. The best way to figure out what is causing inflammation in your body is through an elimination diet paired with keeping a food log to track how different foods impact you.
If a certain food gives you symptoms like heartburn, headaches, rashes, or causes you to feel sluggish afterwards, then your body is having a difficult time digesting it. Other signs further down the digestion process can be constipation, loose stools, bloating and cramping.
There are a few foods out there that consistently cause an inflammatory response in just about everyone. Unfortunately, a few of them taste quite good! But fried, sugary, and processed foods can ultimately lead to major problems in your body. Save these foods for special occasions and then get back to eating what makes you feel your best!
And just as there are foods that are really hard on your body, there are also a few that should be staples in an anti-inflammatory diet. One of the most important is healthy fats from sources like olive oil, eggs and avocados. Many people don’t realize that healthy fats are vital for the body. They help to support the structure of cells, provide a dietary source of energy and fat soluble vitamins, and help regulate hormone levels.
Beyond fats, other beneficial foods include cruciferous vegetables, seasonal fruit, fermented dairy, sprouted nuts and seeds and herbs such as turmeric, oregano, rosemary and sea salt. Try to add some of these in each day, eating a variety of foods from plant and animal sources to get the optimal balance of nutrients.
4. Take Supplements
Beyond changing your diet, you can also take supplements for extra help. Quercetin Complex is a natural compound made with Vitamin C, magnesium, lemon bioflavonoid complex and bromelain. The main ingredient, quercetin, supports the antioxidant activity of Vitamin C in the body to support the body’s natural defenses. It’s a natural compound that can also be found in foods such as beans, onions, apples, leafy greens and green teas.
We’ve always known that the foods in an anti-inflammatory diet are good for us, but the medical community has learned that a huge health benefit of eating this way lives in your body’s ability to self-soothe when given the proper nutrients.
In all, anti-inflammatory foods can keep the immune system healthy, keep weight under control, and begin healing your gut. It’s not easy to overhaul your diet, but take it one day at a time. The better you feel the more you will be motivated to keep at it! Reach out to us at anytime with questions and take our quiz to learn what supplements are right for you and your body as you start this journey.