As a functional medicine dietitian, I think of food not only as calories but as information for our bodies. Food truly has the power to influence our health — poor-quality food can create inflammation and disease and high-quality food can prevent or treat chronic disease. Inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases, can cause pain and tax our immune system. So, the question is, how do we give our bodies the best information possible to sustain optimal health and reduce inflammation?
To combat inflammation, start with the grocery store! Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into your daily diet to reduce inflammation within your body.
- Fatty fish: Wild-caught salmon, mackerel, cod, tuna and sardines contain a high amount of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.
- Grass-fed meats: Grass-fed meats such as lamb, buffalo or beef contain substantial amounts of omega-3 fats that grain-fed animals lack.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts and flax seeds are also great sources of fiber.
- Extra-virgin olive oil: The greener and darker the olive oil — the better! It is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Dark leafy greens: Kale, spinach and collards are high in fiber and help protect the body from pro-inflammatory molecules.
- Brightly colored fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients which help reduce inflammation and promote healing. These include bell peppers, red cabbage, onion, all berries, cherries, plums and red grapes.
- Moist heat cooking using low temperatures: Use your crock-pot, poach or steam foods. Inflammatory compounds form with high-temperature cooking such as grilling, broiling and frying.
- Spices: Cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger, rosemary and turmeric. Use them in combination with food to reduce inflammation — especially when using high-heat cooking methods.
Grilling tonight? Add some cayenne to your chicken breast and serve it with a side of spinach and garlic sautéed in olive oil. By adding different spices to your meat and serving it with anti-inflammatory foods (spinach and olive oil), you will help to reduce the inflammatory compounds created by the high temp of the grill.
Briana Traut, Registered Dietitian
CentraCare Weight Management