Exploring Anti-Inflammatory Eating: Part 1
Posted on Sep 17, 2014
In most of modern medicine, each symptom is given a neat and tidy solution. If your head hurts, you take some painkillers. If you get strep throat, you start on a course of antibiotics. This is a good system for many ailments, but in my experience treating patients, most people suffer from many different symptoms simultaneously that don’t all fit into the same box. Perhaps you’ve got chronic lower back pain, and the pain killers your doctor suggested aren’t helping. Maybe you’re experiencing a lot of gas, bloating, stomach pain, constipation or other digestive issues. It could be that no matter how much sleep you get, you still end up feeling tired, sluggish and like you need a shot of espresso to get through the day. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, one root cause can often lead to a wide variety of symptoms. Because of this, instead of “chasing symptoms” by prescribing different medications for different complaints, I like to simply address the main issue at hand. In my practice, that usually means starting with a conversation about food.
Some of you are probably used to eating the way most of the world eats nowadays–a diet high in processed foods, dairy, wheat and sugar. Unfortunately, this “modern diet” is the major cause of a wide variety of health issues. Chinese Medicine has known for thousands of years that one of the problems with eating this way is the build-up of inflammation in your body’s tissues. Inflammation can cause long-term, severe issues such as back and neck pain, chronic coughing, sinus congestion, stomach pains, indigestion, fatigue, mental fogginess, and many other problems. In my own practice I have worked with patients who come in with so much pain they can barely move, yet even cortisone shots and anti-inflammatory drugs aren’t working, because their nutrition is being overlooked. Nowadays it’s not just Chinese Medicine that’s bringing attention to the importance of food as a basis for health. There is also a lot of important research being done in the scientific community to verify that an anti-inflammatory diet can be used to treat a wide variety of chronic health issues. If you’d like to read more about this research, I highly recommend the book Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Foods, Obesity and Diabetes, by Robert H. Lustig, MD. He’s compiled tons of the latest research on the impact of nutrition on health, and put it all together in a very approachable and enjoyable read.
Luckily, there is good news: it is easy to reduce inflammation through dietary changes! Making the choice to adjust what food you are using to fuel your body can greatly reduce a wide variety of symptoms and improve your overall health. Many people live life at a fraction of their full capacity and might be used to working at only 60% of their full health, without even knowing what 100% would feel like! That’s why I suggest committing to this anti-inflammatory way of eating for 2-3 weeks, to detoxify your body and rid it of the harmful inflammation that has built up. These might seem like major changes to you, but your body needs the freedom from excess inflammation in order to start healing and getting stronger. If you commit to exploring this way of eating for just a few weeks, I know you’ll quickly start to see what a positive impact it can have on your life.
FILL UP YOUR PLATE WITH:
- Lightly cooked vegetables in a variety of colors
- Protein (chicken, fish, beef, pork, tofu, eggs, etc.)
- Gluten-free grains (brown rice, oats, quinoa)
- Legumes (black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, etc.)
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy fats (olive, grapeseed, coconut, and flaxseed oils, avocado, grass-fed butter)
- And fill up your glass with 2-3 LITERS OF WATER PER DAY with lemon juice or a small pinch of mineral salt to aid absorption
LEAVE THESE ALONE:
- Dairy (milk, cheese, ice cream, etc.)
- Wheat (bread, cereal, pasta, cookies, etc.)
- Sugar (candy, chocolate, fruit juices, wine, simple carbohydrates, fruit [in excess of one fist-sized serving per day])
- Processed foods (avoid anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce or recognize or with more than 5 ingredients total…or even better, just stick to whole, unprocessed foods!)
After a few days, your mind and body will start adjusting to the lack of inflammatory foods, and your taste buds will begin to notice all of the complex and wonderful flavors in the foods that you’re eating. You will notice a decrease in food cravings, and an increase in energy and mental clarity. If you ask me, there’s nothing better than eating delicious food AND feeling great because of it.
I’m excited for you to try this way of eating and start reaping the benefits. Check back tomorrow for a sample anti-inflammatory menu and on Friday for additional tips on how to start making simple but important changes to your eating habits. If you have questions, I’m happy to hear from you in the comments, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed in Diet & Nutrition
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