Last Saturday, I spoke at a conference at Emory for the Vasculitis Foundation on anti-inflammatory foods. Like me, you may be asking, “What is vasculitis?”
Vasculitis is a group of diseases involving inflammation of the vascular system (or blood vessels). Although there is very little research on nutrition and vasculitis, because it’s an inflammatory condition, it would make sense that eating anti-inflammatory foods may help.
While we don’t have a lot of evidence when it comes to food and its relationship to disease, my philosophy is, “there are no guarantees that it will help, but it definitely can’t hurt!”
Cancer survivors may also benefit from anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting foods. And if you don’t have cancer, eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods may reduce your risk of many chronic illnesses, including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Where to start?
Eat the rainbow every day. Unfortunately, this won’t lead you to a pot of gold, but you may be rich in health at the end of your life if you eat colorful produce every day. Eat the rainbow by eating a fruit or vegetable of every color every day. My favorite way to do this? Start by adding banana and mango to a smoothie for breakfast. Eat a salad with leafy greens and tomatoes at lunch, and then serve up a bowl of mixed blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries for a healthy dessert at dinner.
Choose the right fats. Use extra virgin olive oil or canola oil more often rather than pro-inflammatory corn or vegetable oil. Replace red meat (beef and pork) with fatty fish like salmon or sardines. Snack on small amounts of walnuts, avocado, olives, and natural peanut butter.
Ditch processed sugar. Read labels to identify foods high in sugar (look for sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and words ending in –ose.) Drink unsweetened tea, coffee, water or club soda with fresh lemon or lime instead of soda or fruit juices. Save desserts for special occasions. If you can’t do without sugar, try fresh fruit or dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Eat whole grains. Choosing whole grains isn’t as simple as choosing packaged foods with whole wheat flour. Instead, look for an actual grain! Does it have texture? Does it have 3-5 grams of fiber per serving? Can I see the grain? Barley, quinoa, bulgur, amaranth, steel cut oats, popcorn (natural vs. the movie theatre butter coated), and brown rice are all great options.
Try new foods. I can’t tell you the number of people I have met who tell me they don’t like fruits and vegetables. When I dig deeper, I usually find out they haven’t tried many and/or don’t know how to prepare them. With the web now, you can find a recipe and video of “how to” for almost every food. Not sure where to begin? See the list as a guide to eating more anti-inflammatory plant foods!
Weekly Wellness Digest, Byte-sized Servings, Georgia Cancer Specialists
Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
A Plan for Eating More Plants: Fruits, Vegetables, Spices, Whole Grains, and Nuts & Seeds
By Bethany Smith, RD, LD, CSO, 2012
BOLD = Buy organic if/when possible
Carambola (Star Fruit)
Hearts of palm
Peanut butter (natura)
Pumpkin seed (pepitos)
Sugar snap peas
By Bethany Smith, Registered Dietician