How to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet?
By Lizette Scialom, well-being and nutrition coach
We hear more and more about “anti-inflammatory” food. But why is inflammation bad for us and what does it have to do with diet? We will explain everything to you.
Inflammation is a process in which the immune system mobilizes to protect you against foreign bodies (viruses, bacteria, injuries, chemicals, toxins). It is meant to be a short-lived response - the injury or invader is neutralized, and the body heals the damage.
When inflammation persists day after day, even if you are not threatened by a foreign invader, it can become what we call "low-grade inflammation", spread throughout the body and become chronic.
Chronic inflammation disrupts the physiological functioning of the body and sets the stage for many so-called civilization diseases such as certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity.
The signs and symptoms are often: persistent fatigue, headaches, brain fog, digestive disorders, muscle or joint pain even leading to anxiety or even depression.
One of the most powerful tools to fight inflammation does not come from the pharmacy but from our diet. Through our lifestyle and our food choices we can act on the inflammatory state and prevent it from setting in or accelerating the disease process.
Factors contributing to the inflammatory state
It is not surprising that the most pro-inflammatory foods are those generally considered bad for our health, including sodas and refined carbohydrates, fried foods, industrial red meat or deli meats and ultra-processed dishes.
Where to start ?
- Limit the consumption of processed foods as much as possible: breakfast cereals, sodas, fried foods, fast food, saturated and trans fats.
- Reduce the consumption of red meat. ANSES recommends less than 500g of red meat per week. Instead, opt for grass-fed beef, which is higher in omega-3 fatty acids, and slow-cooked instead of barbecue.
- Limit chronic stress: too much stress keeps us in a permanent state of alert. Alerting our immune system that we are in danger also triggers inflammatory reactions and taps into our stores of vitamins and minerals. Adaptogens are one of the solutions to lower your daily stress level.
- Take care of your sleep: our body needs rest to regenerate and maintain its vitality. A good night's sleep helps reduce the risk of inflammation.
A few simple rules for an anti-inflammatory diet :
- Always and again pamper your microbiota : a disturbance of the intestinal flora will affect inflammation, 80% of chronic inflammatory states arise there. We can never repeat it enough: eat more plants, the rainbow of fruits, vegetables, especially cabbage, broccoli, and legumes. These plants provide the energy substrate for our bacteria: fibers.
- Focus on antioxidants and polyphenols : they help prevent, delay or repair certain types of cell and tissue damage, thanks to their antioxidant action. They are found in colorful fruits and vegetables like berries, leafy green vegetables, ginger, turmeric, and green tea.
- Consume Omega-3s : Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in regulating your body's inflammatory process. You'll find these healthy fats in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, as well as in smaller amounts in walnuts, chia seeds, and ground flaxseeds.
The most studied food model, which scientifically confirms its effectiveness on health for the general population, is the Mediterranean model. Adopt a diet that is varied, rich in plants; fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, spices and herbs, oily fish, healthy fats and fermented milk products, provides the nutrients needed to regenerate a body in full vitality.
Lizette Scialom is a well-being and nutrition coach, certified "Mind Body Nutrition Coach". She practices at Center Vitruvius , a medical center specializing in comprehensive and integrative care of body and mind.
Stress, Food, and Inflammation: Psychoneuroimmunology and Nutrition at the Cutting Edge Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D.