Written by Nurse Susan
As you age and near retirement, you’re faced with a ton of health and lifestyle changes. Why would you want to change the way you eat, too?
Switching up your diet might not be particularly appealing. However, following an anti-inflammatory diet can seriously improve your quality of life, especially if you suffer from chronic illnesses like arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet, as well as some tips on how to implement it in your own life.
What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
An anti-inflammatory diet is all about incorporating foods that have been proven to reduce inflammation while eliminating those that are known to cause it.
This kind of diet prioritizes eating lots of fruits and vegetables and reducing the amount of sugar and processed foods you consume. It’s easier to implement than a lot of other diets because you don’t have to eliminate entire food groups. Extreme diets that require you to completely cut out carbohydrates or fat aren’t sustainable.
How Does it Work?
Inflammation occurs when your body is trying to purify itself after being exposed to toxins.
Inflammation is the root cause of conditions like arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and even mental health issues like depression. Most of these conditions affect seniors more than any other age group.
An anti-inflammatory diet may not cure your condition completely. However, it can help minimize your pain and give you more energy. It can also help you lose weight, something many people with chronic conditions struggle with.
Finally, anti-inflammatory diets also allow patients to bypass the negative side effects (memory loss, fatigue, etc.) that often come with traditional medications.
How to Stick to an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
If you’re just getting started, these tips will help you implement and stick to an anti-inflammatory diet so you can reap all the benefits it has to offer.
Foods to Avoid
To avoid inflammation, there are some foods that you’ll want to avoid or eliminate altogether, including:
- Refined grains (white bread, pastries, etc.)
- Fried food
- Soda, juice, and other sugar-sweetened drinks
- Processed meat (hot dogs, sausage, etc.)
- Margarine, lard, and shortening
Foods to Eat
It’s a bummer to cut out french fries and soda. But, luckily, there’s a lot more you can eat while sticking to an anti-inflammatory diet, including:
Fruits and Vegetables
Shoot for 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day to fight inflammation. One serving is equal to one cup of raw fruits or vegetables or one-half cup of cooked.
Aim for variety when you’re shopping for and preparing fruits and vegetables. Some particularly helpful for fighting inflammation include:
- Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale
A high-fiber diet also helps reduce inflammation in the body. It does this by feeding the good bacteria in the digestive system. These bacteria, in turn, release inflammation-fighting substances.
If you’re eating the recommended number of fruits and vegetables each day, you’re probably getting close to 25 grams (the ideal daily amount for adults).
You can also get fiber from whole and unrefined grains, brown rice, and chia and flax seeds.
Not only do spices like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and garlic make your food taste better, but they also contain antioxidants that help the body fight inflammation.
Ginger, in particular, is so effective that it’s often included in homemade creams meant to help reduce arthritis inflammation and pain.
For a long time, fat got a lot of hate in the health and wellness world. Now, though, researchers are starting to realize that certain kinds of fat are very beneficial to the body.
Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids are especially helpful in fighting inflammation. You can find them in flax seeds, walnuts, beans, and cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, and sardines.
Avocado and virgin and extra-virgin olive oil are also good sources of healthy fats.
Even if you feel fine now, it’s worth trying an anti-inflammatory diet. You’ll probably find you feel better and you’ll significantly reduce your risk of developing a chronic illness.
Nurse Susan has always been passionate about helping people heal. After she retired from a lifelong career as a nurse, that passion didn’t go away. She loves to use her expertise to write about the best ways to keep you and your family healthy, active, and happy.