An anti-inflammatory diet seeks to reduce chronic inflammation, which is what is behind diseases such as cancer, heart attack, arthritis or obesity. This diet improves our health and quality of life and although its objective is not to lose weight, it also helps to lose weight.
The anti-inflammatory diet is a diet designed to take care of our health. To find out what this diet combats, think about when you cut yourself, for example, and the injured area swells. Your immune system reacts by sending its “soldiers” to fight the problem –possible germs that want to penetrate your body– and to heal and heal the area. It is a punctual and necessary inflammation.
The problem comes when the body finds toxic or other harmful elements in the blood and triggers the same inflammatory reaction. As these elements against which the body fights are usually related to a poor diet, chronic stress, smoking, etc., it is not something specific, it is something chronic and this inflammation also becomes chronic and affects the organs and other structures internal.
WHAT CAUSES CHRONIC INFLAMMATION
- Heart attack. High levels of inflammatory markers in the blood, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) or interleukin 6 (IL-6), have been shown to be associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction. It is also believed that it may be behind the development of cholesterol plaques in the arteries and type 2 diabetes.
- Cancer. It is estimated that around 15-20% of tumors are produced due to a chronic inflammatory process.
- Arthritis. Joint inflammation causes pain and stiffness in the fingers , wrists, or knees.
- Obesity. Chronic inflammation is also related to obesity, due to the increase in certain markers (CRP and IL-6).
HOW IS THE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET
There is no single diet against inflammation; the Mediterranean diet, for example, is an anti-inflammatory diet, as confirmed by a study by the University of Kent (United Kingdom) on knee osteoarthritis. According to this research, the group that changed their diet to a Mediterranean diet, in addition to losing weight, reduced the levels of a pro-inflammatory cartilage molecule called IL-1alpha.
But the Mediterranean diet is not the only one that can help you fight chronic inflammation; a well-designed vegetarian diet , for example, can also have this effect. The important thing is that the diet includes certain foods (rich in omega 3, etc.) and avoids others that cause inflammation (sugar, ultra-processed… ).
WHAT FOODS SHOULD INCLUDE AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET
- Foods rich in omega 3. Take nuts (a handful) and olive oil (3 tablespoons both for cooking and dressing) daily and oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel…) twice a week provides omega 3, a fatty acid with anti-inflammatory power. Cook them over low heat for a short time so as not to lose the omega 3.
- Foods rich in vitamin E. A study found that in patients with metabolic syndrome (problems controlling blood sugar levels due to lack of sensitivity to insulin) this vitamin helped reduce the levels of inflammatory substances. You find it in avocado, sunflower seeds, nuts, virgin olive oil, etc.
- Foods rich in vitamin C. It is a fundamental antioxidant in oxidative and inflammatory processes. You find it in peppers, broccoli, kiwi, fresh parsley, citrus, watercress, etc. Here is the complete list of foods with a lot of vitamin C.
- Foods rich in probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that are found in our intestinal flora and that exert a protective and anti-inflammatory action on the intestinal microbiota. In addition, it is proven that a healthy microbiota helps to lose weight. You can find them in foods like yogurt, sauerkraut (or other fermented vegetables), tempeh, kefir…
- Spices like turmeric. Turmeric is an ideal spice to smooth the belly thanks to one of its components, curcumin, which has a great anti-inflammatory action . If you add it to your dishes along with a little black pepper and extra virgin olive oil, you will assimilate it better and enhance its effect.
FOODS TO AVOID BECAUSE of INFLAMMATION
Just as important as what you eat is what you should NOT eat, neither for the calories they provide nor for their inflammatory substances.
- Sugar. Consuming a large amount of sugar increases the levels of cytokines (substances that activate inflammation) and these can be up to 3 times higher than if you take a very very moderate amount of it.
- Vegetable oils. The oils used to produce mayonnaise and other industrial sauces, cookies, pizzas and, in general, ultra -processed foods contain many omega 6 fatty acids and an excess of these fats causes the formation of inflammatory substances.
- Saturated fats. An excess of saturated fats present in red meats, whole dairy products, etc.; and trans fats from ultra-processed foods such as pastries and precooked food, increase body fat deposits and activate inflammatory processes.
WHAT YOU DRINK IS ALSO IMPORTANT
- Water. Water is always the reference drink, but even so, you must bear in mind that if you drink it from the tap, it is important that you either use a filter or that you let it rest for at least 2-3 hours so that the chlorine evaporates, which can affect the intestinal microbiota and, if it becomes unbalanced, it can lead to inflammatory processes.
- Coffee. You must not overdo it. It is recommended not to exceed 2-3 cups a day, but this also depends on your sensitivity to caffeine. If you suffer a lot of stress, the ideal is to reduce the amount of coffee you drink.
- Alcohol. Taking it on time is not a problem, but regularly and depending on the amount it can also have a pro-inflammatory action.
- Milk. If you drink too much milk, you can exceed the recommended amount of saturated fat and also lead to inflammation. Also, people who are lactose intolerant because they have little or no production of an enzyme that breaks down milk sugar (lactose) may also have a bloating problem. Keep in mind that, in addition, over the years, the amount of this enzyme decreases and that although it has always been good for you, over the years you may have less tolerance. Yogurt or kefir, being fermented, do not usually cause the same problem as milk.
- Two recommended drinks: green tea and ginger. Green tea is a powerful antioxidant, as is ginger tea, and both have anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger also stimulates metabolism, making it ideal if you need to lose weight.