“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” --Hippocrates
Hippocrates believed proper nutrition was one essential part of a lifestyle method to achieving good health. His approach intuited what wouldn’t be revealed by science for centuries: That nutrition can protect against disease-causing inflammation for greater health, longevity, and well being.
You might have noticed that lists of anti-inflammatory foods abound on the internet. However, critics stress that the overall dietary pattern is more important than adding certain ingredients. For example, the Mediterranean diet has been shown in well-designed studies to reduce markers of inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease.
Of course, there is no single Mediterranean diet: The Greek eat differently from the Italians and Spanish. But the principal aspects are the same, emphasizing inflammation-banishing whole foods, with processed and refined foods being almost non-existent. What follows are ten principles based on Mediterranean diet research you can use to reduce inflammation and protect yourself from obesity and disease.
#1: Eat The Rainbow
Every meal should include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables that contain phytonutrients to help neutralize free radicals: Leafy greens, berries, peppers, cruciferous veggies, kiwis, cherries, beets, radishes, citrus, etc.
#2: Avoid Refined Foods
Inflammation is triggered in response to high calorie meals and by high blood sugar levels, both of which are more common when you eat refined or processed foods.
#3: Eat Fish
Fish are a consistent part of the Mediterranean diet and they provide high-quality protein and healthy fats that have been shown to be a potent remedy for inflammatory diseases by lowering C-reactive protein.
#4: Shun Trans Fats
Identifiable as “partially hydrogenated oil” on food labels, trans fats are dangerous for humans because they damage cells, cause inflammation, and are implicated in the development of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
#5: Use Olive Oil & Other Healthy Fats
Olive oil, nuts, and other monounsaturated fats consistently do well in diet studies because they provide phytonutrients that lower inflammation throughout the body.
#6: Replace Added Sugar With Healthy Carbs
Sugar consumption leads to the release of free radicals as a byproduct of energy metabolism in the body, which can easily build up and lead to chronic inflammation. Replacing sugar with healthy carbs, such as sweet potatoes, heirloom grains, legumes, and dairy, can lower your oxidative stress load, while satisfying your need for carb-based foods.
#7: Cook With Spices
Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and chilies can help you re-train your taste buds if you need help shifting away from processed foods, and they contain antioxidants that help the body eradicate inflammation.
#8: Avoid Excessive Alcohol
Although there may be a time and place for red wine in moderation, excessive alcohol should be avoided. The process of metabolizing excess alcohol causes significant damage to the liver, which often leads to an increase in abdominal fat—the dangerous kind of fat that releases inflammatory compounds.
#9: Reduce Oils High In Omega-6 Fat
In large quantities, oils high in omega-6 fat (i.e. corn and soybean oil) lead to an increase in compounds called eicosanoids that mediate inflammatory responses.
#10: Supplement With Depleted Nutrients
Lack of certain nutrients leads to an increased free radical load in the body: Vitamin D, magnesium, and alpha lipoic acid are three that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in research.