We all know that a “healthy” diet is your golden ticket to a healthy life and yada yada yada. Every couple of months there’s new buzzwords surrounding health and wellness and fitness that sometimes you just have to sit back and roll your eyes at how much health has just become a big business. However, if you can weed through it all, you can be lucky enough to find some truths hidden in there.
Let me preface with this – I LOVE food. I used to run a food blog, and most of the recipes were desserts or foods that wouldn’t exactly fit on a Weight Watchers plan, haha! I enjoy eating out, and I enjoy cooking, and these things can be intensified as my prednisone dose goes higher and higher – and I’m sure a lot of y’all can relate to that! I don’t believe in “good” foods and “bad foods” because I do not believe that shame or worth should ever be determined by what is on your plate. I do believe that there are a lot of foods out there though that can either help or hinder those of us with severe inflammatory issues, which is what I want to talk about.
Now, there’s been a lot of talk lately around anti-inflammatory foods and anti-inflammatory diets, which might make it seem like it could potentially fall into that buzzword/money-making-for-large-corporations-while-feeding-off-of-people’s-body-image-issues category. Which is partially true, but the actual SCIENCE behind it has been around for a really long time, and is backed by a lot of refutable medical schools, hospitals and journals (Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Institute of Health, to name a few). Now I do get pissy over magazines and websites trying to sell the junk cleanses and shit like that while marketing off of “Reducing inflammation to lose weight”, but using anti-inflammatory foods to FEEL BETTER when you have an inflammatory illness is science backed and has helped me a lot!
So, inflammation. It sucks. Like, a lot. While it’s a necessary thing that our body does to protect our muscles, joints, organs, etc. it isn’t too fun when your body doesn’t know how to control it, or how much is too much. But food truly can help ease the symptoms of severe inflammation – or worsen it. Foods high in sugar and saturated fat can spur inflammation. “They cause over-activity in the immune system, which can lead to joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels,” says Scott Zashin, MD, clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Boo….I mean…I would be nice if those chili-cheese fries made my pain go away, but we aren’t that lucky! But don’t fret yet, because there are some super great foods that help fight inflammation, and can make you feel better overall! Because there are SO MANY foods and food groups that can help us feel better, I’m going to split this up into a few posts, so as not to have an info-overload, but I’m going to start with a big one.
Keep in mind, I’m not a doctor, and all auto-immune diseases are different. What works for some, might not work for others, and although some people manage symptoms completely through diet, I manage my illnesses with diet as well as medication (big pharma and holistic). We all function differently, but what works for me might work for someone out there, so I want to share.
Fiber. Fiber gets a bad rap, thanks to nasty stuff like Grape-Nuts and that kind of stuff. And you usually only hear about it as the butt of a joke (yes, that was a pun) for it's wonderful pooping side-effects!
But fiber really helps with inflammation and has been scientifically backed to lower your C-Reactive Protein levels. So go indulge at Chipotle…get yourself a tasty treat loaded with Brown Rice and Black beans…and don’t skip the guac, as avocado is pretty high in fiber AND healthy, anti-inflammatory fats! Okay, so that might be a little high in other not-so-good stuff if you have it every day, but just making a point that fiber doesn’t always mean gross, cardboard-like food! You also don't have to be a chef to get your fiber in and there are plenty of restaurant and take-out options available for those days you just don't have the spoons to be in the kitchen.
While it may not make you feel the greatest if eaten every day, Chipotle is a great quick-win for your fiber intake! Take this veggie bowl, only 2 grams away from your daily fiber goal - and delicious! Image from https://www.chipotle.com/nutrition-calculator
Adding high-fiber foods to your diet is a huge start to keeping your inflammation in check, and the less inflammation you have, the more spoons you can invest elsewhere.