Well over 2000 years ago, Hippocrates proposed a novel concept . . . “Let food be thy medicine”. The idea has lingered and is commonly quoted in modern day.
More recently, Mark Hyman, MD stated: “The most powerful medicine is at the end of your fork, not at the bottom of your pill bottle. Food is more powerful than anything in your medicine cabinet.”
Modern science is showing that indeed, what we consume does have a tremendous impact on our health. With the continuing technological advances, food production has increased greatly. Unfortunately, so have health problems. A common American health trend currently is to eat more natural, less processed foods. People are learning the wisdom of Hippocrates – you can affect your health by altering your diet.
Two of the primary culprits in the American diet are weight gain and inflammation. Often the first directives given by doctors to patients dealing with chronic diseases such as heart problems, diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure are to make dietary changes and lose weight.
Good news! Some of the same foods that will help you lose weight will also fight inflammation in the body. So rather than continuing to take anti-inflammatory medications and dealing with possible side effects, try to increase these foods in your diet. You may be amazed at the changes that are possible without medication.
Foods to eat to fight inflammation:
Green leafy vegetables: One of the weight loss “go-to” foods is salad. The fiber helps the individual feel more “full” and therefore eat less. The fiber also helps the digestive system work efficiently. Additionally, with high amounts of vitamins A, C and K, green leafy vegetables “help protect your brain from oxidative stress.”
Bok Choy: Loaded with vitamins and minerals, bok choy has a whopping 70+ antioxidant phenolic substances! These are antioxidants that attack free radicals.
Celery: A common relish tray filler, celery actually has many health benefits in addition to being anti-inflammatory. It can help improve cholesterol and blood pressure as well as fight heart disease. Celery seeds (great to mix in salads, soups and to season vegetable dishes) also help fight bacterial infections and are a source of potassium and other vitamins.
Beets: The benefit of eating foods with varied colors is certainly true when it comes to beets. The antioxidant betalain that gives the vibrant red color is a great anti-inflammatory. Additionally, they provide important minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
Broccoli: The stereotype of healthy food, broccoli has earned that place. Not only does it provide potassium and magnesium, it also delivers antioxidants that “decrease oxidative stress in the body and battle chronic inflammation and cancer.”
Blueberries: In addition to being packed full of vitamins, blueberries contain the antioxidant quercetin which fights inflammation and cancer. (Quercetin can also be found in citrus and other dark-colored berries) Blueberries can slow cognitive decline and improve memory.
Bone broth: A trendy food currently, bone broth provides a multitude of minerals including: magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, silicon PLUS glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates which are known to reduce inflammation, arthritis and joint pain. While these are available in supplements, bone broth can be made at home in a slow cooker with chicken, beef or fish bones.
Turmeric: Another trendy food, turmeric is actually an excellent source of curcumin, a robust anti-inflammatory that has been shown to reduce inflammation in people with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Ginger: A multi-tasking spice, ginger not only reduces inflammation, it is also a valuable digestive aid, can relieve nausea, breaks down toxins in the organs and cleanses the lymphatic system.
Not only can the right food help inflammation and a variety of other conditions, the wrong food can make them worse. Once again, some of the same foods that are on most diet lists are also the foods that contribute to inflammation and disease.
Foods to Skip:
Carbohydrates and simple, refined sugars: These are the first and most obvious foods that dieters avoid. While eating whole grains can provide many health benefits, consuming refined carbs such as white flour should be limited or avoided.
Eating a diet that includes a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables can provide weight regulation, reduce inflammation, improve blood pressure and reduce the risk of many other maladies.
Together, incorporating a good anti-inflammatory diet with chiropractic care, you can keep your body working optimally. At your next visit, ask your doctor of chiropractic for tips on improving your eating habits.
Source: “Important Anti-inflammatory Foods to Include in Your Diet” by Jason Strotheide, published in The American Chiropractor February 2017.