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I am very excited to share this guest post from Kira of A Nourished Life! In this post Kira shares easy to understand information about the benefits of eating a diet with anti-inflammatory foods for chronic pain relief/support as well as a list of the top 10 anti-inflammatory foods! I for one plan to add some of these foods into my diet to help reduce inflammation which will hopefully help to make my chronic pain a bit more manageable!
Without further ado, let’s turn it over to Kira!
The Most Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Chronic Pain
It seems as if there has been a buzz lately in regard to the “anti-inflammatory” diet. Have weight to lose? Reduce inflammation. Getting over a virus? Reduce inflammation. And so on. However, I want to be clear that an anti-inflammatory diet is not a fad or a short-term diet. It is an approach to eating in order to heal the body and provide proper nourishment, keeping you at optimum health.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is described as the body’s response to an injury. Sometimes it’s as simple as your finger turning red after a paper cut. No big deal. That’s just temporary inflammation and is actually necessary for the body’s healing. Other times, inflammation becomes chronic (think of it happening over and over again) or is there unnecessarily, it then begins to wreak havoc on the body.
Unfortunately, you can’t see chronic inflammation. It rears its ugly head in the form of autoimmune diseases, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. Although the causes of each may vary, inflammation is often at the root of these. While there are “treatments” for these problems, these often come in the form of medications, which only act as a Band-Aid. By reducing inflammation, you can also reduce the problem and begin to heal the body naturally.
So what causes inflammation? This can be a variety of things. Genetics, stress, smoking, lack of exercise, and diet are all factors. Certainly you can’t change something like genetics, but you can absolutely change the others. For many, diet is often a great starting point, especially it is believed by many that all disease begins in the gut. It is the cheapest and easiest way to keep your body healthy.
It is a fact that when we are well nourished, we heal quicker. Unfortunately our Standard American Diet (SAD…ironic acronym, right?) is laden with inflammatory foods, not nourishing ones. Sugar, dairy, gluten, trans fats, and refined grains have become part of our every day meals, and all can cause inflammation.
It’s important to remember that inflammation is not caused by simply one or two foods, but an overall effect of a diet. So if you’re worried about that cookie you eat every night after dinner, don’t be. But if you find that you eat out regularly, consume a lot of sugar, or are eating gluten on a regular basis, it may be time to make some changes.
If cutting out some of your favorite foods seems impossible, consider some simple swaps:
- Ezekiel bread instead of white bread
- Olive oil instead of canola oil
- Stevia instead of sugar
- Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate
These simple changes will make a good difference in your diet and how you feel.
What Else Do I Eat?
Following an anti-inflammatory diet shouldn’t be too complicated. Yes, you may have to reduce or even eliminate some of your favorite foods depending on how much inflammation you have in your body, but overall it’s fairly simple to follow. I like to tell my clients to “eat from the earth.”
Aim for 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (with most being vegetables).
- Make several of them dark leafy greens since they contain powerful antioxidants. Also try to eat in season, eat local, and eat a variety.
Eat quality meats and eggs.
- Ideally, this would be grass-fed and pasture-raised for the highest nutrient levels.
Have a serving of fatty fish at least once a week, such as wild-caught salmon.
- It’s high in omega-3’s, which can help reduce inflammation.
Lots of healthy fats should be eaten throughout the day.
When consuming grains, make sure they are whole or sprouted grain, and keep these servings at a minimum.
Try to get in fermented foods or bone broth on a regular basis.
- They are wonderfully healing foods and easy to make at home.
Top 10 Foods for Reducing Inflammation
If you’re really looking to reduce inflammation, increase your intake of the following 10 foods:
- Leafy green vegetables such as kale, chard, and spinach
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate
- Olive oil
I hope this post has given you some tips for incorporating a diet full of anti-inflammatory foods for chronic pain & chronic illness management!
Do you include any of these foods in your diet on a regular basis?
Kira has a Master’s in Health and Nutrition Education from Hawthorn University. She is the founder of “a nourished life” where she works with clients both one-on-one and in group sessions. Kira takes a functional approach to nutrition, working to uncover the root of the problem and taking bio-individuality into account, understanding that every person has a different nutritional need. She is also a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP). You can find more information about Kira and working with her on her website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.