Focusing On These Foods Get You The Best Results

 
 
 
After taking a hiatus from the mental game of trying to “control my eating” for the last 2 months, I have finally found a very HEALTHY transition to caring about what I’m eating with the BEST intentions.  
 
My husband and I are undergoing fertility treatments (namely, IVF) with the hopes of getting pregnant in the next coming months!  But, prior to my egg retrieval surgery, I made the conscious decision to give myself permission to STOP stressing about food and my weight, for what seemed like the first time ever.  It was a wise move as I had no idea how stressful the decisions associated with IVF would be, not to mention  administering the hormone injections,  and I rightly decided that FOOD should be just one less thing to STRESS about.  
 
Post-surgery, however, I have realized there is a way to focus back on healthy eating for a GOOD CAUSE, not just for the vanity of wanting to lose weight.  The motivation to decrease INFLAMMATION is a much more powerful mindset and actually is the number one way to truly be HEALTHY, not just “skinnier.”
 
INFLAMMATION: “Part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants, and is a protective response involving immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators.”( —National Arthritis Foundation)
 
For me, I need to focus on anti-inflammatory eating and exercising because not only did I gain about 10lbs of inflammation and hormone weight from the IVF processes, but also, reducing inflammation for conception and pregnancy are SO VERY IMPORTANT for success!    So, that’s really my motivation right now….I want the IVF process to work sooner rather than later AND I want a pregnancy that will be the healthiest form I can manage (stay tuned on that one folks!). 
 
For YOU however, you might be dealing with inflammation in different but equally important ways and it would be wise for you to follow a anti-inflammatory protocol as well!  If you suffer from anything like:
  • arthritis/fibromyalgia/joint pain
  • autoimmune diseases- celiac disease/leaky gut/Hashimotos
  • IBS or gut health issues
  • asthma or lunge inflammation
  • diabetes
  • polycystic ovarian syndrom (PCOS)/ infertility issues
  • obesity
 
Any and all of the above are caused or exacerbated by inflammatory responses and sometimes chronic systemic inflammation.  And believe it or not, our FOOD and lifestyle choices play a HUGE role in avoiding these conditions to begin with OR healing them once they are in effect.  
 
HOW DO CERTAIN FOODS CAUSE INFLAMMATION?     
It depends on the body system, but essentially some foods trigger what’s called a “cytokine” inflammatory messenger to be released from your immune cells that signals to the body that there is a “foreign invader” or something to fix or repair.   
 
So, especially if your body is already in an inflamed state (such as right after a surgery, like in my case, or if you suffer from arthritis or PCOS, etc.) there are certain foods that can exacerbate that inflammatory response from you digestive tract and gut (which houses the majority of your immune response and therefore will spread to the entire body).  
 
What is slightly unnerving is that sometimes the culprits are foods that you have eaten your whole life but all of a sudden you can become sensitive to it or because of another condition you now find that it gives you issues.    Below is a non-exhaustive list of such foods that can cause more inflammation that would want to be eliminated or significantly reduced in your diet. 
 

FOODS THAT CAN INFLAME:

(source: arthritis.com)

  1. SUGAR: Especially refined forms, but sugars will trigger the release of cytokines that cause inflammation.
  2. SATURATED FATS: these fats will trigger adipose tissue to inflame.  Includes butter, cheese, coconut oil, red meat, full fat dairy, heavy creams etc.
  3. TRANS FATS: the same as saturated fats, but these fats are found in processed foods, fast food (oils/dressings), fried products, processed snacks, frozen meals etc.  Look for “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredients list.  Avoid processed food overall for best bets. 
  4. EXCESS OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS: This one might surprise you because we hear they are good for you, but the truth is, it is the proper BALANCE of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that keep inflammation down. So, because many of us get many Omega-6 from corn, corn oils, soy, sunflower, grapeseed, peanuts, vegetable oil etc, then we get out of balance easily.  If you supplement with Omega’s, ensure you don’t supplement with the -6 or the -9, just the Omega-3’s!
  5. REFINED CARBOHYDRATES:  white flour, white rice, white potatoes or any other high glycemic foods that can “fuel the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) products that stimulate inflammation. 
  6. MSG (monosodium glutamate): this flavor enhancer is found in soy sauces and prepared asian dishes often but causes havoc by triggering TWO pathways that lead to more inflammation.  Avoid it, and all glutamates, for that reason!
  7. GLUTEN AND CASEIN: Both proteins found in wheat and dairy, respectively.  Joint pain can be a symptom of gluten or casein sensitivity.  Celiac disease is the autoimmune disease that is caused by an allergy to gluten.  Some people may not be official “allergic” to but can still be intolerant or sensitive to these two proteins.  
  8. ASPARTAME: This artificial sweetener is currently found in over 4,000 products but the most notable the majority of the “diet sodas” that are out there.  Unfortunately, what you might not get in calories from the sugar, you will still get in some inflammation (and sugar cravings) from the aspartame.  It’s time to let this habit go…
  9. ALCOHOL: Sorry to all my fellow wine-o’s, but the reality is that alcohol can cause inflammation by disrupting the liver and hindering organ interactions.  Alcohol will need to be significantly reduced if you want to reduce inflammation or beat a disease.  
 
Overall, this list might make you cringe a bit.  If you have ever enjoyed eating the MAD (modern American diet) you have come face-to-face with all of these foods on the regular, and they are more than likely some of your favorites!  So, just focusing on what you’re going to have to “give up” in order to reduce inflammation is another code for “diet” and I personally don’t believe that diets ever work.  
 
I think they can work short term and you CAN see results from going on a restrictive “do not eat” list, but overall, for a healthy MINDSET and healthy BODY, I think overly focusing on the RESTRICTING side of things is setting you up for failure eventually.  
 
While I do concede that some short term programs like the Whole30 and the Precision Nutrition Elimination Diet (both of which I have personally done) DO have some value in that they teach you outright which foods you are sensitive or intolerant to (which can only be done by eliminating them completely for 21-30 days and then reintroducing them back into your diet and monitoring results).  I ALSO know that these programs ARE NOT lifestyle programs, nor do they tout themselves to be.  
 
Eventually, you are going to come back to a LIFESTYLE approach where you have to ENJOY EATING the foods that promote a low-inflammation body.   When I transitioned to just focusing on getting MORE of the foods listed below (and many that are not listed too, of course), I realized how great I feel!  Not only physically, but also MENTALLY, because for ONCE, I wasn't making my food choices from the only desire to "lose weight" or "firm up"...it was much more HEALTH focused than that!

Foods Rich In Omega-3

THE LOW-INFLAMMATION FOODS:

(source: Dr. Axe)
 
This is the list of foods that you want to focus on to keep your mindset on what you ARE going to do and how you ARE going to tackle this lifestyle approach to health.  That mindset shift can make all the difference!   In short, the lifestyle approach is WHOLE & REAL FOODS, RICH IN COLOR, AND HEALTHY FAT!!
 
But, if you want the best bang for your buck, focus on these Top 15. 
  1. GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES: (spinach, kale, chard, mixed greens, etc) rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties called flavonoids.  Eat them up!
  2. BOK CHOY: “Chinese Cabbage” is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including over 70 phenolic substrates. 
  3. CELERY: antioxidant and anti-inflammatory rich, includes properties knows to regular blood pressure and cholesterol too.  Has a good balance of electrolytes sodium and potassium.
  4. BEETS: deep red color signals they are rich in antioxidant betalin and can fight and repair cell damage. Great source of electrolytes including potassium and magnesium (which magnesium deficiency is commonly associated with inflammatory diseases or issues). 
  5. BROCCOLI: high in potassium and magnesium and particularly potent in anti-inflammatory and antioxidants substances flavonoids and carotenoids. 
  6. BLUEBERRIES:  deep purple color signals quercetin that is a flavonoid that fights inflammation and cancer. 
  7. PINEAPPLE: rich in bromeliad and digestive enzymes.  Also helps regulate immune response in body, which will fight inflammation. 
  8. SALMON:  Omega-3 power source! Omega-3 balance is incredibly important as some of the most potent anti-inflammatory responses.  (I now eat Salmon 2x per week!)
  9. BONE BROTH: Such an awesome way to get so many minerals that our body can easily digest including: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur etc. 
  10. WALNUTS: protein rich and omega-3 rich. Also contains phytonutrients. 
  11. COCONUT OIL:  works especially well with herbs and spices, namely, turmeric.  Will fight oxidative stress. 
  12. CHIA SEEDS: Contains fatty acids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory substances.
  13. TUMERIC: The main substance cur cumin is among the most potent anti-inflammatory substance out there.  Tested against the properties in Ibuprofen and Aspirin and beat them!
  14. FLAX SEEDS: Another source of Omega-3, polyphenols and phytonutrients.  Helps to regulate hormone balance. 
  15. GINGER: Appears to bolster up the immune system pretty significantly and break down toxins in the body.  
 
The other component of living a low-inflammation life is to get EXERCISE!  A routine of physical activity is incredibly important to aid and embed the immune response and work of these yummy foods!

Sample Day With Low Inflammation Smoothie Recipe!

SAMPLE DAY & ANTI-INFLAMMATORY SMOOTHIE:
 
Breakfast: Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie
   1 Scoop Bone Broth Protein with Turmeric by Ancient Nutrition (click link to buy) 
    ~1.5 Cup Milk (or nondairy milk of choice)
    1 Tbs of Flax Seeds & Chia Seeds
    1/2 Cup Frozen Blueberries
    1/3 Cup (or 4 chunks) of Frozen Pineapple
    Heaping Handful of Power Greens (combo of spinach, kale, and chard)
    1 Tbs Coconut Oil (or MCT Oil, click link to buy)
 
Blend until smooth
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lunch: Beet & Walnut Spinach Salad with Chicken 
 
Snack: Veggie Crudite with Olive Tapenade or Apple with Walnut Butter
 
Dinner: Salmon and Broccoli with whole grain of choice (quinoa, barley etc)
 
After Dinner Snack: 2 pieces of 85% Dark Chocolate and hot Ginger Tea
 

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