Proper Nutrition for Inflammatory Diseases
—Jill Fandrich, PharmD, CRPh
Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in managing inflammatory diseases. Inflammation is the body's natural response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can lead to various diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and certain types of heart disease. Here are some dietary recommendations to help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms associated with inflammatory diseases:
1. Anti-inflammatory foods - Include foods that have natural anti-inflammatory properties in your diet. These include fatty fish (such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel), leafy green vegetables, berries, turmeric, ginger, garlic, olive oil, and nuts.
2. Omega-3 fatty acids - Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation. Good sources of omega-3s include fatty fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Consider adding fish oil supplements if recommended by your healthcare provider.
3. Colorful fruits and vegetables - Consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals. These include berries, cherries, oranges, tomatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, and bell peppers. These foods can help combat inflammation and provide essential nutrients.
4. Whole grains - Choose whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, oats, and whole wheat bread instead of refined grains. Whole grains contain more fiber and nutrients, which can help reduce inflammation and stabilize blood sugar levels.
5. Turmeric and ginger - Incorporate turmeric and ginger into your diet. Both spices contain potent anti-inflammatory compounds that can help alleviate inflammation. Add them to curries, smoothies, or use them in tea.
6. Avoid processed foods - Minimize or eliminate processed foods, as they often contain high levels of unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars. These can promote inflammation and exacerbate symptoms of inflammatory diseases.
7. Avoid trigger foods - Consider how certain foods affect your symptoms. Some individuals may have food sensitivities that can trigger inflammation. Common trigger foods include processed meats, gluten, dairy, and certain nightshade vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants. Consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian to identify and eliminate trigger foods from your diet.
8. Stay hydrated - Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and support overall health. Staying hydrated can help reduce inflammation and support normal organ function.
9. Mediterranean Diet - Consider following a Mediterranean-style diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, and nuts. This eating pattern has been associated with a lower risk of inflammatory diseases.
10. Moderate alcohol consumption - Limit excessive alcohol intake, as it can trigger inflammation and worsen symptoms. Moderation is key, and it's best to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.
11. Lean protein-rich foods - Opt for lean protein sources like poultry, tofu, beans, and legumes. These provide essential nutrients without contributing to inflammation.
12. Probiotics - Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods to support gut health. A healthy gut can contribute to a reduction in inflammation.
Remember, individual nutritional needs may vary, and consulting with a healthcare professional or a nutritionist is important.
Proper nutrition is not just about eating the right foods; it is a powerful ally in combating inflammatory diseases. Nourishing your body with anti-inflammatory foods is like providing the building blocks for your body's natural defense system, enabling it to heal and thrive.
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