It’s no real secret that I struggle with my diet (who doesn’t though – amiright?!). I know that the way I eat can dramatically affect the way I feel and that I usually feel as good as possible (with lupus) when I am on a healthy diet. But then there’s cake and chocolate. I daydream about mini eggs the same way Posh Spice daydreams about David Beckham in his tighty whities. Sugar is my number one frenemy.
But I’m trying to turn over a new leaf (and I’ve said that so many times now that I have a huge pile of leaves I can jump in) and focus on foods that help cut down inflammation because I really don’t like taking medications for pain symptoms as they just make me feel like a complete zombie. By saying that, I am not standing on a soap box and telling everyone with chronic pain or autoimmune diseases that they are lesser people for taking pain meds, because those kinds of people should really just be quiet and stop being so judgey. Not everyone has the same disease, symptoms or pain levels. So for me, the lucky gal I am, I can survive fairly normally on my disease modifying drugs without having to take a lot of pain pills (just don’t ever take my migraine pills away from me). Some people would never be able to rely solely on food to help alleviate symptoms. Some people can rely on it a little bit with the help of meds. And some people completely give up meds for healthy foods and then go and preach about it all over the internet and tell you that some sort of chia seed can cure your Multiple Sclerosis or some similar nonsense, which can be a really dangerous thing to tell people who are desperate for a cure.
I think when having the food in lieu of drugs conversation it is important to point out that I am someone who believes certain foods can help ALLEVIATE symptoms. I am not someone who believes that changing your diet can rid you of your disease, because then there would actually be a cure and it wouldn’t be called a chronic incurable disease.
So I wanted to write about foods that help reduce inflammation, which is a big part of lupus and many other autoimmune diseases. But given my earlier confession about mini eggs I know I’m not the right person to do it. So in comes my internet pal Shelly Stinson. Shelly is a food, health and lifestyle writer who took on the task of researching inflammation-reducing food for me. That makes me sound like I’m a very established blogger. I wish that were true. I find it very hard to keep quiet so if you see any text in brackets and italics throughout Shelley’s post please know that is just me being annoying and inserting myself everywhere 🙂
How to Help Reduce Inflammation By Eating Delicious, Healthy Food
by Shelly Stinson
Contrary to what most of us believe, inflammation is actually a good thing as it helps our body heal when injured, recover when facing an infection, or otherwise get better when compromised physically. So why does it get such a bad rap?
The Problem with Inflammation
The problem occurs when inflammation stays long term as opposed to coming briefly and then leaving once the affected area recovers. This can lead to a whole host of health issues, from feeling more aches and pains to the development of life-threatening diseases. This typically stems from the original source of inflammation going untreated or from an autoimmune disease setting in.
While some people must treat this type of chronic, long-lasting inflammation with medication or various medical procedures, modifying your diet can sometimes help. The reason that food matters when it comes to inflammation is because there are specific foods that actually increase or decrease your body’s inflammatory effect, making you feel better or worse as a result.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Add to Your Diet
This is good news as it enables you to fight your body’s inflammation in a completely natural way. This means not having to deal with the negative side effects typically caused by some of the other, less natural options.
If this sounds good to you, here are some of the best anti-inflammatory foods to consider adding to your menu regularly:
- Green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach (I mix spinach into my smoothies so I can pretend I’m Hilary Duff)
- Other vegetables such as Bok choy, celery, beets, and broccoli
- Blueberries and pineapple
- Bone broth
- Coconut oil
- Chia seeds and flax seeds
- Turmeric and ginger (everyone I know raves about turmeric for arthritis pain)
As you can see, these foods, ingredients, and spices are all natural, which means that they haven’t been processed. This keeps their nutritional qualities in tact so you receive all of the anti-inflammatory properties they have to offer.
How to Add These Foods to Your Diet
There are a number of ways to add these types of foods and ingredients to your diet. For example, you can make a leafy green salad and add blueberries, flaxseeds, and walnuts to it. Or you could fry up some salmon in a bit of coconut oil, dusting some ground chia or flax seeds on top for a little bit of crunch.
You can also incorporate these types of foods into your regular eating plan by making juices or smoothies with these types of ingredients. One woman took this approach and not only noticed that she had better health, but she was also able to get rid of her patchy brown skin condition. And she did it by overhauling her eating habits, such as juicing while no longer eating meat or dairy.
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
Just as it is important to know which foods can help your body heal the inflammation within it, it is equally imperative to know which ones can make it worse. Remember that we mentioned that heavily processed foods are the worst for you?
Based on this information, here are some of the food ingredients you should avoid:
- Sugar (you’re breaking my heart Shelly)
- Saturated and trans fats
- Excessive omega-6 fatty acids
- Refined carbohydrates (think white flour products), gluten, and casein
- Aspartame (common in diet soda and low-calorie foods)
- Alcohol (ugh…life is rough)
Shelly Stinson is a freelance writer based out of Denver, Colorado. Her interests include healthy living, being active outdoors and trying new restaurants.
Please check out my friend Donna’s post on her blog February Stars about trying to give up food attachments. It helped spark my desire to put down the mini eggs and pick up the spinach. We all know I’m still going to eat the occasional mini egg though, let’s be serious. And will I stop eating gluten? Probably not. But I will do my best to incorporate as many of these foods into my diet as humanly possible.
Have you changed your diet because of your illness? Do you have any tips for those of us who are giving it a try? Let me know in the comments!